6 Game-ready Recipes for a Healthy Tailgate

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Ready, Set, Tailgate!

Tailgate Food

Marcus Nilsson

The gridiron may feature a clash between two teams, but, on game day, the real battle takes place in the parking lot.

If you’re not careful this fall, you’re going to be tackled by brats, bags of greasy chips, mayo-soaked potato salad, and free-flowing kegs that are all too ready to fill you out like an offensive lineman. And if you’re following a particular diet plan, it can be even harder not to get blitzed by the options available.

So does that mean you have to skip out on the gastronomic fun if you want to keep your six-pack in good shape? Not at all! The key to avoiding nutrition fumbles and keeping your waistline in check is to whip up some better-body tailgate fare on your own. Whether you’re planted on your couch with your buddies or on a truck hatch at the stadium, here is a roster of tailgate recipes for any diet that are guaranteed to score.

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1. Vegetarian: Tex-Mex Nacho Salad

Vegetarian: Tex-Mex Nacho Salad

Marcus Nilsson

Skip the soupy potato salad. Instead, opt for this fiber-rich, nutrient-dense salad that is a punt away from the calorie bomb that is cheese-soaked nachos.

Check out the recipe for Tex-Mex Nacho Salad here.

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2. Gluten-Free: Pork Banh Mi Stacks

Gluten-Free: Pork Bahn MI Stacks

Marcus Nilsson

This MVP recipe is a delicious play on a Vietnamese street-food classic, featuring crispy bread and protein- packed pork tenderloin. If you’re cooking your game day fare indoors, the bread can be toasted using an oven broiler, and the pork can be cooked using a grill pan on the stovetop or roasted in the oven.

Check out the recipe for Pork Banh Mi Stacks here.

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3. Ketogenic: Philly Cheesesteak Lettuce Bundles

Philly Cheesesteak Lettuce Bundles

Marcus Nilsson

This riff on cheesesteak sacks most of the carbs by swapping out the doughy bun for fresh, crisp lettuce leaves. If you’re cooking away from home, pack the sliced steak and sliced vegetables in separate containers in a cooler.

Check out the recipe for Philly Cheesesteak Lettuce Bundles here.

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4. Paleo: Apricot-Glazed Chicken Drumsticks

Glazed Chicken

Marcus Nilsson

Step up your tailgate game by ditching wings slathered in goopy sauce for more meaty drumsticks bathed in a naturally sweet apricot glaze. If you’re looking to kick some calories from your game day feast, consider peeling off the skin from the drumsticks before sending them to the flames.

Check out the recipe for Apricot-Glazed Chicken Drumsticks here.

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5. Smoked Fish Dip

Smoked Fish Dip

Marcus Nilsson

Bringing store-bought dip to the show is not only lame, but it’ll blow up your waistline in no time. This tasty dip features fish (the meat of choice for the red-meat-weary crowd) for a boost in healthy fats and ricotta cheese for creamy protein.

Check out the recipe for Smoked Fish Dip here.

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6. Almond Blondie Brownies

Almond Blondie Brownie

Marcus Nilsson

Most game day desserts are nutritional landmines ready to blitz your six-pack. Fight back with these bars that stealthily employ chickpeas for the ultimate waistline-friendly dessert hack.

Check out the recipe for Almond Blondie Brownies here.

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