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The Healthy Tailgate!

For a long time I refused to watch football and enjoy it. That’s what happens when your brothers make you watch it against your will, year after year. And just when I thought I’d gotten away from football and sports in general, I ventured to school in Boston. Uh oh; every guy I came in contact with watched sports. Then I got a boyfriend who of course LOVED sports and football. What’s a girl to do? Enter healthy tailgating!

I started enjoying football games by making a bunch of delish food! Woo! I was familiar with the concept of tailgating and of course new all about party foods, but it took years for me to embrace the bond between football and food. Now I’m always making something to enjoy while watching the football game. In college things weren’t so healthy; a big plate of delish nachos or something else sinful was my go to on game day. Yum. Nachos. They are definitely a splurge item now; along with everything else I ate in college. Thankfully I found amazing healthy and vegetarian alternatives that even my man loves.

My menu kicks off with a dish I’ve perfected over the last few years, a wonderfully filling vegetarian chili! Normally it’s a very a simple recipe; an onion and green pepper sautéed with garlic and chili powder in light olive oil. I then add Trader Joe’s fire roasted tomatoes, a can of rinsed black beans, and a can of rinsed white beans. I’ll also add lots of hot sauce and jalapenos and let all those flavors simmer together. If I’m feeling it I’ll add veggie meat or soyrizo, but sometimes it’s just the veggies! This is the perfect meal to make while you’re enjoying the game. The longer you let it simmer, the better it is! I always top my veggie chili with a little cheese and avocado and it’s always a hit. Plus, if I’m feeling dangerous I’ll make some corn bread to go with it. Best combo ever.

Yummy-Vegetarian-Chili

Another go to football snack is buffalo cauliflower! I made this last year for the Super Bowl and it was ridiculously popular. The best part about this dish is that it’s SO easy to make. All you do is chop up the cauliflower into florets, put them in a plastic bag and add a cup to a cup and a half of Franks Red Hot buffalo sauce. Then shake that baby up! I also like to add some garlic and pepper to the bag. Seal it up and shake the cauliflower around so it gets well coated. I used to add breadcrumbs to it, but I don’t do that anymore. I don’t think they added anything. Then put the cauliflower mix in the fridge until you’re ready to bake it. I normally start at 400 degrees F and bake it for about thirty minutes or until it looks good and crispy! The buffalo cauliflower goes great with a yogurt dipping sauce, which is also easy to make. Mix fat free Greek yogurt with a Laughing Cow blue cheese wedge and lime juice. Or if you’re feeling the extra calories, a nice blue cheese dressing always goes well with this too. Hot damn! I’m getting hungry just thinking about this!

My final dish is a classic roasted chicken, since sometimes I’m craving a good old fall meal around football time. I hardly ever make chicken at home, but normally it’s when my cravings kick in! It’s a delicious dish and a nice throwback to a classic Sunday dinner my mom used to make. I buy an all natural, small, roasting chicken and roast that bad boy up! I normally season it with a bit of olive oil, lemon juice or whole lemons, garlic cloves, pepper, and a spice. Last time I used Trader Joe’s South African spice mix! There’s something so comforting about roasted chicken; it reminds me of Sunday night football at home. I’ll normally roast some potatoes to go with it, or if I’m feeling wild, I’ll make some good old mashed potatoes. You can even roast a whole garlic clove with the chicken and mix your roasted garlic with the chicken once you’ve sliced that bad boy up. Yum!

We all long for hearty football food, but they don’t have to be heavy and fattening. Embrace the healthy tailgate! Making your own healthy spread is a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Don’t break out your chips, break out your healthy imagination and indulge in a nice home-cooked tailgate spread. If you entertain, your friends will love it! If you’re making it for your man or family, they will too! You won’t feel guilty come Monday morning. You’ll feel great!

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