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Game-day grub can be healty

POSTED: September 8, 2013 7:30 p.m.

I can always tell exactly when football season arrives. My husband will be firmly planted on the couch Saturday and Sunday, shouting expletives at the television.  I know from now until the first week of February, we won’t be going anywhere or doing anything over the weekends.
For many fans, football season means game-time grazing on finger foods and easy-to-prepare snacks. Take note, though — tailgating, hosting a game-day party or just settling in the den with some grub for a long day of arm-chair quarterbacking does not mean it’s OK to throw that diet out the window. It’s an opportunity to seek out healthier alternatives to high-fat and sodium-laced appetizers, or try new preparation methods, such as baking instead of frying.
You can “makeover” many classic recipes by switching out certain ingredients.  For example, prepare dips using fat-free or reduced-fat sour cream and opt for all-natural, low-sodium salsas that are free of preservatives. Better yet, make your own salsa or guacamole from scratch using fresh veggies and spices.  
Look for healthier potato and tortilla chip varieties, such as those that are baked or derived from vegetable ingredients instead of just potatoes or corn. Check the grocery store’s organic section for dried veggie chips, rice chips, whole-wheat pretzels or blue corn tortilla chips.
If you plan to put out a party buffet, don’t forget the fresh produce.  Platters of cut-up raw veggies, grilled vegetables, garden salads or fruit medleys are excellent game-day additions and will provide guests with a variety of healthy options.
And let’s not forget the beer — that popular game-day accompaniment that often packs a ton of calories and carbohydrates. On your next beer run, be sure to check nutritional labels on the packages.   Know what you’re putting into your body,  and keep in mind that alcohol contains lots of empty calories. Keep it “light” by choosing pale ales and lagers over stouts and dark beers. Sodas also can pack a high-calorie, sugary punch. If you’re in need of some carbonated refreshment, seek out zero-calorie or diet varieties.  
I have a few of my own go-to recipes that my husband always asks for come football season. Chicken wings are an easy-to-prepare and tasty finger food, but depending on the preparation method, they can be packed with fat and calories.  Commercially prepared wings from the store or a pizzeria can be especially bad for you. Nachos are a stadium favorite, but too many toppings can make this appetizers into a mountain of meat and full-fat cheese. Try these healthier versions at home this weekend and see how they compare.  Resist the urge to add salt and sauces full of preservatives. They won’t be necessary if your food is seasoned well.

 

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