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Natural Awakenings Lehigh Valley

Tips for a Delicious & Healthy Tailgating Season

by Lauren Panoff

With autumn approaching, many of us are beginning to think about things that define the season, like warm apple cider, colorful leaves and football games. Tailgating favorites often include staples such as Buffalo wings, burgers and ribs; however, healthier options are often welcome additions. Read on to explore how to make favorite football foods a bit more nutritious this season.

Make Fruits and Veggies a Highlight

Alongside traditional finger foods like tortilla chips and pretzels, fruits and vegetables make a nice change of pace. Try adding celery and carrot sticks, strips of bell peppers and broccoli florets. Fruits such as small grape clusters, apple and orange slices or even pineapples on toothpicks offer a new element to classic snack trays. Make fresh produce more enticing by offering a  variety of colors, pairing them with flavorful dips or displaying them in innovative ways, like fruit kabobs on skewers.

Dip Lighter

Break dip tradition by offering lighter, more nutritious versions of the classics. A few ideas include edamame hummus, white bean or beet spread, succotash, guacamole, and spinach and artichoke dip that uses silken tofu instead of a heavy cream. These will still pair nicely with everyone’s favorite snack foods.

Create Plant-Based Versions of Your Favorite Recipes

It’s easy to swap in plant-based recipes for tailgating staples. For instance, cauliflower makes a great substitute for chicken in Buffalo wings, veggie burgers can still be piled high with the same toppings and condiments, meatless chili can still have bulk from beans or tempeh, and a vegan mac and cheese can still be smoky, creamy and hearty.

Bake, Grill or Air Fry

Instead of serving high-fat, fried and greasy foods this year, try new preparation methods that yield healthier results. For example, make air-fried vegetable sticks, empanadas, or beet and sweet potato chips. Rather than pan-frying your main dishes, try baking or grilling them to reduce fat content.

For more healthy tailgating ideas, visit or your local in-store ShopRite dietitian. Office locations are conveniently listed at

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