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7 tasty alternatives for healthy tailgating

October 26, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Before a big football game, there's plenty of tailgating. For some, that means a big gain in calories. We have some tasty, yet healthy, tailgate treats to keep you on the winning team.

"I have to admit that going to a game just means enjoying whatever greasy, bad food is right in front of you," said Vicki Curry of Venice Beach.

A parking lot full of cars and calories - that's the tailgate scene. Well how about ways to enjoy the tailgate treats without all the guilt?

"Normally, tailgating food is filled with beer, burgers, chips and dips. [With] just a few simple swaps, you can save thousands of calories during the game," said Patricia Bannan, a dietitian and the author of "Eat Right When Time Is Tight."

Bannan said lay it out right, and nobody will complain. First up is marinara veggie meat balls in lieu of burgers.

"You can do a meatless meatball. They have about two-thirds less fat than a regular ground beef meatball, and they have all the flavor," said Bannan. "Put a little marinara sauce on there, and they're great for the game."

Use baked versions of chips. And while dips can have fat, make it heart healthy.

"Go for the guacamole over the nacho cheese. The nacho cheese is going to have a lot of preservatives [and] a lot of extra fat," said Bannan.

And go for hummus rather than high-saturated fat French onion dip.

"It's high in protein. It's low in fat, and it's really healthy for you," Bannan said.

For chips, put a serving on your plate and stick to it.

"You do want to limit the chips. You also can have vegetables there, and you can dip those into your hummus or your guacamole," Bannan suggested.

Pistachio in shells take time to eat, which makes it a great idea.

Mango also is a surprising tailgate treat.

"Mango is great, because it's really sweet. People love it," said Bannan. "You can use it as a substitute for dessert, and that sweet goes really good with the savory foods of your football fare."

Washing it all down with a mix drink is going to set you back 400 or 500 calories if you're using a big tumbler.

So if you are imbibing, Bannan suggests one of the new light beers on the market and plenty of H2O.

"What you want to do is alternate it with water to keep hydrated and headache-free," she said.

Remember, for many this could be a six- to eight-hour experience. So don't stand at the table and graze. Sit and savor.

Read more about these alternative tailgate treats.

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