Top 10 healthy game day snacks
Hear the words "game day snacks" and healthy isn't what usually comes to mind. But oh contraire! That doesn't have to be the case.
You can look out for your heart health and your taste buds on game day. Here are the top 10 healthy game day snacks that'll score you some points with your guests, as well as your waistline.
- Spinach & Artichoke Dip – Dips, though popular on game day, are also high in sodium and unhealthy fats. But making them from scratch allows you to control that. Swap out the base of your dip with low fat sour cream, lowfat cream cheese, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese or light mayo whenever possible. Add herbs and spices to give flavor as opposed to salt. Garlic, shallots and onions can also do the trick!
- Bean Dip – Black, white, brown, blended, crushed or whole: Beans are an ideal heart healthy food, because legumes are high in potassium, which positively impacts blood pressure. If you're making a seven-layer dip, go heavy on the veggies, but light on cheese – and make sure to use lowfat cheese made from 2 percent milk.
- Homemade Hummus – Chickpeas may be small, but they pack a big punch. High in fiber, protein, iron, vitamin B-6 and magnesium, chickpeas are a must for game day snacking. Either toss them into a blender for quick and easy hummus, or brush them with olive oil and spices and bake in the oven for a nut-like substitute that's big on crunch!
- Mini Pizzas – Swap out the store-bought frozen kind in favor of a whole grain flour tortilla, a high in fiber pita pocket or a multi-grain English muffin. You can even slice and toast eggplant or portabella mushroom caps as a carrier for tomatoes and toppings. Sprinkle lightly with low fat cheese to finish.
- Lettuce Wraps – Nothing's cooler than crisp, refreshing lettuce wraps. Especially when you fill them with lower-fat options like seasoned sliced chicken or turkey, sautéed ground chicken or turkey or even pork tenderloin (so long as it's lean!) Or change it up and fill with mixed bean salad, mushrooms or onions and peppers. The options are endless.
- Homemade Chips & Salsa – Whether you opt for flour or whole grain tortillas, or go the popular kale chip route, brushing these store bought chip substitutes with olive oil – and spices, if desired – and toasting them in the oven is sure to please. As for normally salt-packed salsas, making your own, days in advance, allows you to control the sodium and make sure it's big on flavor. Add corn, avocado, black beans, even mango to your salsa – anything goes!
- Lower-Fat Buffalo Wings – Though wings aren't the ideal heart-healthy food, there are ways to give them more health benefits. Use a tomato-based wet batter that has egg whites and whole wheat bread crumbs and always bake, don't fry. Buttermilk is a great dipper for wings, because it's non-fat and adds a tangy flavor. Now toss in some honey, cumin or chili pepper for seasoning since they reduce heart inflammation and you're ready for kick off.
- Sliders & Sweet Potato Fries – Swap out beef with lightly seasoned ground turkey or chicken, or even black bean patties. Bind with egg whites or egg beaters, add finely diced vegetables and serve on a whole wheat bun. Sweet potato fries – that are baked, not fried – add an extra kick of potassium, too.
- Lower-Fat Brownies and Cookies – You may think desserts can't be made healthier, but it's true! Use whole wheat flour instead of refined, substitute pureed apples or applesauce in for oil and add oatmeal, diced nuts or dried fruit for extra nutrients (and flavor!) Cutting sweets into smaller bite sized shapes and offering a variety of options will make your guests feel better about joining in on the sampling fun, too!
- Cobbler – Perfect for packing a vitamin punch and fitting into your busy schedule, cobblers are best prepared a day or two in advance to add flavor. Use frozen peaches, berries and very little sugar if needed, and add oats before baking. Finish with a dollop of sorbet, and you have a nutrient dessert that's big on sweet but low on sugar.
But don't stop at the finger foods. When it comes to beverages, serve drinks in smaller sized glasses, add sliced lemons, cucumber and mint to chilled water and highlight alternative beverages like brewed iced tea at the bar instead of beer and sugary sodas.
Remember, presentation matters. Offering your guests delicious alternatives to those unhealthy traditional game day foods and drinks could make all the difference, and score you some new fans.