Football season is here, and that means it’s time for cheeseburgers, hot wings, dips and enough saturated fat and calories to last you until Christmas. And if there is one thing Tampa fans are known for outside our awesome cheers, it’s our awesome tailgates. If you’re looking for that game-day spirit without expanding your waistline, there are some easy swaps you can make to cut calories without sacrificing flavor.
Swap #1: Instead of traditional 7-layer dip, try Southwestern layered bean dip
Traditional 7-layer dip calls for ground beef, refried beans and very few vegetables. The magazine Eating Well suggests a few easy swaps to make eating dip a healthy treat instead of a dietary disaster. Simply swap out the refried beans for whole black beans, taco-seasoned ground turkey for ground beef and use low-fat or fat-free sour cream instead of a full-fat option. To add color, flavor and dietary fiber, be sure to include plenty of diced fresh vegetables such as jalapeños, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, onions, black olives and avocado. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even experiment with corn, zucchini and bell peppers.
Now that you’ve gone through the trouble of creating a healthy, flavorful dip, don’t let fried tortilla chips sabotage the snack. You can substitute baked tortilla chips or create your own chips by buying high-fiber, low-fat tortillas and baking them in the oven. For an extra special treat, offer your guests fresh vegetable “chips” such as thinly sliced cucumbers, tomatoes and celery sticks.
Swap #2: Instead of traditional bacon cheeseburgers, try turkey burger sliders
The average bacon cheeseburger delivers over 800 calories and over 50 grams of fat — and that’s before it’s dressed up with mayonnaise and other fattening condiments. And let’s face it — when you’re tailgating all afternoon, you’re not going to eat just one. Do yourself and your friends a favor and provide this healthier alternative.
Ground turkey is an excellent substitute for ground beef and also delivers more essential nutrients such as L-tryptophan. However, it does cost more. Ground chicken is every bit as delicious as ground turkey and the price is comparable to that of ground beef. Once you’ve chosen your meat, go ahead and use the same recipe you use to make your beef burgers. Feel free to add shredded cheese, black beans, Worcestershire sauce, chopped onions or whatever else strikes your fancy. To trick yourself (and your guests) into eating less, make them into slider-sized patties. For an extra burst of flare and flavor, wrap 1-2 slices of turkey bacon around each patty before dropping it on the grill.
Don’t let fattening toppings trip you up. For starters, substitute whole-wheat buns for white buns. Instead of mayo, barbecue sauce and other fattening condiments, try offering healthier alternatives such as grilled mushrooms and onions, low-sugar ketchup and homemade guacamole. You won’t even miss your old burger.
Swap #3: Instead of traditional boneless wings, try this healthier version
When you’re craving something spicy, nothing quite fits the bill like hot wings. Unfortunately, for that little bit of protein, you’re also getting far too much fried batter, saturated fat and calories. The website Healthy Girl offers an alternative that calls for a healthier breading baked in the oven before smothering in your favorite hot sauce.
To make the breading, all you need is two parts Fiber One cereal and one part low-fat baked potato chips. Combine these in a food processor with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and garlic powder. Coat chunks of chicken breast in the breading and bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Simply toss in your favorite hot sauce and serve.
Amanda Mole has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil and cooking since she was tall enough to reach the stove. She believes that food provides more than just vital nutrients: it is an irreplaceable part of countless cultural and social activities. As a Tampa Bay resident for the past 21 years, she is well acquainted with the incredibly diverse range of restaurants, bars, and food festivals that the area has to offer. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.