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Healthy Tailgating Food

Tailgate parties have combined food, friends and football in stadium parking lots for many years. The upside of this is all the fun and camaraderie. The downside? The artery-clogging, waist-expanding foods that are typically served in large quantities at tailgate parties.
Providing healthy food for these parties is not impossible.

Many people throw tail-gate parties several times during the football season. It is important to find healthy alternatives to all the fried foods, greasy burgers, and calorie-laden desserts that tend to be the norm at these popular events.

A great start to the tailgate party menu is an easy to prepare layered bean dip.This recipe serves twelve and takes only twenty minutes to make.

1 16-ounce can nonfat refried beans,

1 15-ounce can black beans,

4 scallions,sliced

1/2 cup prepared salsa

1/2 teaspoon each ground cumin and chili powder

1/4 cup pickled jalapeo slices

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream

1 1/2 cups chopped lettuce

1 medium tomato, chopped

1 medium avocado, chopped

Combine refried beans, black beans, scallions, salsa, cumin, chili powder and jalapeos in a medium bowl. Transfer to a shallow 2-quart microwave-safe dish; sprinkle with cheese.

Microwave on high until the cheese is melted and the beans are hot, 3 to 5 minutes. Spread sour cream evenly over the hot bean mixture, then scatter with lettuce, tomato and avocado. Serve with baked tortilla chips for a fiber-rich and healthy appetizer.

Keep the crowd healthy and happy by preparing a vegetable platter with a low-fat dip. The layered bean dip, baked tortilla chips and vegetable platter all promote healthy eating but they have party appeal!

Burgers and greasy sausages are staples for the main meal at tailgate parties. Instead, marinate mushrooms, zucchini, sliced onions and peppers in low-fat Italian dressing and put them right on the grill. Serve this mixture in whole wheat pita pockets. Sprinkle with shredded low-fat cheese.

For a more substantial meal choice, nothing is better than a hot bowl of chili on a cool fall day while enjoying the big game. Trade in fatty ground beef for lean chicken in this spicy chicken chili. Team this up with cornbread and a large green salad for a winning combination.

Spicy Chicken Chili

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces

1 onion, chopped

4 large cloves garlic, minced

1 4 oz can green chili peppers, chopped

1 teaspoon each ground cumin and dried oregano

1/8 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

1 cup nonfat chicken broth

2 15 oz cans navy beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 -1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro

2 ounces part-skim Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded

Warm the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the chicken and saute for 5 minutes. Add the onions and garlic to the pot and saute for several minutes.Add the chili peppers, cumin, oregano, red-pepper and broth. Cover and simmer on a medium-low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle cheese over each serving.

There are so many options when it comes to making healthy food choices for a tailgate party. A big fruit salad or apple crisp are both great dessert choices. If a cake or brownies is part of your tailgating tradition, cut these into smaller portions.

Make sure to have plenty of bottled water and other low-calorie beverages such as fruit flavored water. Healthy tailgating is possible with a little extra effort. Your guests will appreciate the hearty food and you will be applauded for keeping it healthy.