Fall…it’s my favorite time of year. Despite living in mostly warm-weathered Texas, I love pulling out the sweaters and scarves, devouring all things pumpkin, sipping hot apple-cider, and cuddling up to our backyard fire pit when that first blast of crisp, cool air comes through. Oh…and of course, there’s football!  Although game-day often brings out the little junk-food fanatic in all of us, there are some great ways to indulge without the guilt-ridden, after-game bulge.
If you are planning game-day at your house, joining in on a potluck, or tailgating, here are some healthy tips I have found that will NOT get scoffed upon by game-day food fanatics (very important).

1) With anything fried, try oven-baking instead. Most of your favorite fried foods can turn out just as delicious when oven-baked. (Example-see my last post on oven fried chicken). You cut a tremendous amount of calories, fat, and stomach-upsetting grease when you do this. French fries, fried pickles, you name it. Here is a great article for more ideas on this: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/14/oven-fried-recipes-healthy_n_2457873.html

2) Veggie Trays. Hey, this is a classic that shows up on game-day tables across the country anyway. Might as well make it a focus! Grab as many different color vegetables as you can and get creative with eye-catching arrangements. The more color, the more nutritious! Since dips are what make veggies a hit, aim for low-fat recipes. There are a plethora of them out there on the good ol’ inter-webs.

3) Salsa. Oh how I love me some good salsa. Already non-fat and low-calorie, it makes a great dip for some baked tortilla or pita chips, veggies, or as dressing for taco salads. Also yummy on a baked potato with a little cheese. Homemade is always best, but if you purchase at the store read the nutrition facts. Some can be pretty high in sodium.

4) Guacamole. Oh how I REALLY love me some good guac. I would take a bath in it if it was socially acceptable. Avocados are incredibly nutritious, full of healthy fats, potassium, and fiber. They are higher in calories however, so keep this in mind if you are watching your numbers. As with salsa, choose your dipping “tool of choice” wisely.

4) Grill, grill, grill! No, not just the opposing team, but your food! Use your outdoor grill for chicken, lean cuts of beef, fish, shrimp, vegetables …the possibilities are endless.

5) Portion control. It’s game day, and yes you will probably be snacking more than you would other days, but keep portions in check. A great way to do this is put chips, nuts, etc. in small bowls on the table rather than leaving out the bags they come in. For items that need to be refrigerated anyway, portion out servings then store back in the fridge. You may be less likely to go through the trouble of pulling it all back out again during the game.

6) Make it a meal! Instead of having a multitude of snacks all over the place, make a pot of lean-meat chili or stew instead. By serving an actual meal you are likely to actually reduce the amount of calories you would consume otherwise, all while still being satisfied as you cheer your team on.

7) Take a walk. Make it a point to use that game-day energy to do something in this beautiful fall weather. Whether you are victoriously leaping for joy or need to vent a defeat, burn some calories walking or tossing the football while bonding with friends and family.

Until next time!