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Score big and satisfy hungry football fans with these wholesome, crowd-pleasing, game-day dishes.

One of the best parts about football season is sampling all the food that gets served up at pre-game and tailgating parties.

But what if you want to serve up something other than the typical calorie-laden foods? Well, you’re in luck. We’ve given some game-day favorites a healthy makeover, so the only thing you’ll possibly regret after the game is your team losing.

“With a little planning, there’s no reason a tailgate picnic has to sideline your nutrition goals,” says Tricia Azra, RD, LDN, a registered dietitian with Carolinas HealthCare System. “Whether you’re taking your game-day party on the road or hosting your own, these recipes are certain to have you cheering.”


Grilled Steak and Vegetable Skewers

What you need:

For the skewers

  • 1 pound top sirloin steak, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 large bell pepper
  • 24 whole cherry tomatoes
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 8 skewers

For the marinade

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons honey mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

How to make it:

In a large bowl or zip lock bag, mix marinade ingredients and steak together; cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Chop vegetables into bite-size pieces. Stack meat and vegetables onto each skewer, leaving about three inches at the bottom of the skewers. Place skewers onto a heated grill and cook for about two minutes per side, rotating a quarter-turn each time until steak is cooked through. Allow to cool for five minutes before serving.


BBQ Chicken        

What you need:

  • 12 chicken legs, skin removed
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 ½ cups beer

How to make it:

Into a large zip lock bag; place chicken legs, olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, garlic, onions, parsley and beer. Seal bag and coat ingredients evenly. Remove as much air as possible from the bag and seal. Place the bag flat on a small, rimmed kitchen sheet pan and put it into the refrigerator. Allow to sit up to one hour, or overnight for best results. Turn often to keep the chicken coated.

To grill: Brush the grill grate with olive oil and turn to medium-high heat. Place chicken onto the grill and turn chicken as needed to cook both sides (up to 30 minutes). Cook until meat is no longer pink in the center and juices run clear.


Chipotle Avocado Turkey Burgers

What you need:

  • 1 pound ground lean turkey
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 slices mozzarella cheese
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, sliced
  • 4 hamburger buns, split and toasted
  • Lettuce and tomato to garnish

How to make it:

Preheat an outdoor grill to medium heat. Mix ground turkey, onion, cilantro, chipotle chile pepper, minced garlic, onion powder, seasoned salt and black pepper in a mixing bowl. Form into four patties. Cook on the preheated grill until the turkey is no longer pink in the center, about four minutes on each side. Place the mozzarella slices on the patties two minutes before they are ready. Top with sliced avocado, garnish with lettuce and tomato, serve on toasted buns.


Zesty Guacamole Dip

What you need

  • 3 avocados – mashed
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 pinch ground cayenne pepper, optional

How to make it:

In a medium bowl, mash together the avocados, lime juice and salt. Mix in onion, cilantro, tomatoes and garlic. Stir in cayenne pepper and cumin powder. Refrigerate 1 hour for best flavor.


Black Bean Hummus

What you need:

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans; drain and reserve liquid
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 ½ tablespoons tahini
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

How to make it:

Use a food processor to mix 2 tablespoons reserved liquid, minced garlic, black beans, lemon juice, tahini, cumin, salt and cayenne pepper. Add additional seasoning and liquid to taste. Garnish with cilantro and paprika.


Mango, Corn and Black Bean Salsa

What you need:

  • ⅓ cup fresh lime juice
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed, drained
  • 1 ½ cups frozen corn kernels
  • 1 avocado, mashed
  • 1 small mango, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro, optional

How to make it:

Mix lime juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, combine beans, corn, avocado, bell pepper, tomatoes, green onions and cilantro. Whisk lime dressing, pour it over the salad and toss.


Grilled Zucchini Vegetable Medley

What you need:

  • 3 zucchini, thickly sliced
  • 3 yellow squash, thickly sliced
  • ½ cup sliced red bell pepper
  • ½ cup sliced red onion
  • 16 large fresh button mushrooms
  • 16 cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ⅓ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • ½ clove garlic, crushed

How to make it:

Place the zucchini, red bell pepper, squash, red onion, mushrooms and tomatoes in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, soy sauce, lemon juice and garlic. Pour over the vegetables. Cover bowl and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Preheat grill to medium heat. Remove vegetables from marinade and place on preheated grill. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until tender.


Greek Pumpkin Brownies

What you need:

  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cups canned pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt, thick style
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

How to make it

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, cayenne, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Mix sugar, eggs, yogurt, pumpkin puree and vanilla in another bowl; beat with electric mixer until fluffy. Combine flour mixture and add chocolate chips. Place in a prepared 9-inch by 13-inch baking pan. Bake for about 25 minutes. Cool in pan.


Meet MyCarolinas

We hope you use this article as your one-stop-shop, online guide to making game-day as deliciously healthy as it is fun. Your friends and family will thank you! Another one-stop-shop online tool to help you manage your family’s health is MyCarolinas. It’s free to sign up and you can use MyCarolinas 24/7 to fill a prescription, send a secure message to your doctor, review lab results and keep track of your family’s health information. It’s part of the care you demand, and it’s at your fingertips . . .

Sign up for MyCarolinas today.

Do you wish you had a community to inspire you and support the choices you make to improve your family’s nutrition habits? Now you do. Join the conversation, or start your own, using #TasteOfHealth