Fall and football go hand-in-hand. And holding football’s other hand…is food. Lots of food!
When we all get together to watch the game this weekend, many of us will be surrounded by snacks. We will sit and stare at athletes at the top of their game while sinking into the couch cushions getting fatter and fatter.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can have your football snack and eat it too!
For this week’s recipe round-up, we went hunting for healthy game-day snacks. These are great alternatives because they’re so much better for you than another bag of chips and a bowl of fattening dip. Now you can give your body some nourishment while you cheer on your team!
Here are seven ideas for scrumptious, creative snacks that can provide nutrition and not just empty calories…
1. Nutritious Nachos
Nachos are the perfect football snack. It’s a crunchy finger food that is full of flavor. It’s also an excellent opportunity to eat something that’s good for you.
Skip the processed cheese and consider adding ingredients to your nachos that have some real value.
Andi at The Weary Chef adds veggies you may not commonly see in normal nachos. Her healthy nachos have zucchini and bell peppers. Zucchini provides minerals like potassium and manganese as well as carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin. Bell peppers are a rich source of Vitamin C. She suggests adding some black beans too.
Andi bakes her nachos in the oven and makes enough for dinner-sized portions. Get this – her husband actually prefers nachos with zucchini now!
The folks at Minimalist Baker put together a recipe that’s super-healthy, and so delicious, you may not even notice that it’s vegan! They call them “The Best Damn Vegan Nachos.” To make the cheese-like sauce for this recipe, you’ll need to view the Cashew-less Queso recipe too.
- Check out the Healthy Nachos from The Weary Chef
- Check out The Best Damn Vegan Nachos from Minimalist Baker
2. Spicy Red Pepper Walnut Dip
A good dip is always a big hit at football parties. Here’s one that will add a little class (and nutrients) to your game-day.
Red Pepper Walnut Dip actually has another name. In Syria, Lebanon and some other middle eastern nations, this dish is called Muhummara. It consists of ground walnuts, dried peppers, olive oil garlic and spices as well as a few other ingredients – depending on the recipe.
You will need a food processor to grind up the walnuts and make this dish, but it is pretty easy to throw together.
Directions for making Muhammara dip on The Spice Kit Recipes are simple. You blend all your ingredients and serve it at room temperature.
Whole Living has a more in-depth process in which you actually roast the peppers and toast walnuts as well as almonds. It’s up to you if you’d rather get pre-roasted & toasted ingredients or do it yourself.
The walnuts in this dip give you a great source of Omega-3 essential fatty acids, and the nuts also contain antioxidants.
You can dip just about anything in it, but the authors of these recipes recommend things like fresh veggies, pita chips and crackers. It also makes a great sandwich spread.
- Get the Spicy Red Pepper Walnut Dip from Whole Living
- Get the Muhammara Spread recipe from The Spice Kit Recipes
3. Roasted Chickpeas
Chickpeas (aka Garbanzo beans) sound like one of the last things you’d be snacking on during a football game. But just wait…
People who’ve tried roasting chickpeas say it tastes a lot like crunchy, salty Corn Nuts – although this is obviously a much healthier way to curb your snack cravings.
Just as Corn Nuts have multiple flavors, you can flavor your homemade roasted chickpeas with whatever you like. The author of Sally’s Baking Addiction turns her roasted chickpeas into a sweet treat with a cinnamon-sugar topping.
Sally says you’ll have a hard time not eating a batch of these all at once. But she does suggest showing some restraint – because they are beans after all. You know…the magical fruit?
Roasted garbanzo beans are extra-easy to make. The basic idea is to drain them from the can, dry them off, drizzle them with olive oil and then season them any way you want. TheKitchn.com has a list of 15 ways to flavor roasted chickpeas.
Garbanzo beans may curb your appetite and help you feel more satisfied thanks to their high fiber content. Plus, they could also support healthy digestion, cholesterol levels and with managing your blood sugar.
- Check out the Cinnamon-Sugar Chickpea Recipe at Sally’s Baking Addiction
4. Creamy Buffalo Chicken Dip with Fresh Veggies
Here’s a recipe that will make every football fan at your next party start to drool. A dip that combines spicy Buffalo sauce into a creamy, decadent dip.
How can this be healthy? I’m so glad you asked…
We found this recipe from The Foodie Physician. The author, Sonali, says you can cut calories by 1/3 when using Neufchatel cheese instead of cream cheese that’s used in most other Buffalo dip recipes. She also uses Greek Yogurt in place of Ranch or Bleu Cheese dressing. The yogurt has far less fat and less sodium too.
You may think that the Greek yogurt would be a bit bland in comparison to salad dressing. But this recipe calls for some additional dried spices, which Sonali says will “up the flavor.”
Sonali also says many recipes have you mix in shredded cheese. She skips that, because she thinks the Neufchatel cheese and yogurt make things creamy enough. She suggests adding some shredded cheese or bleu cheese crumbles as a topping if you must have more cheesiness.
Of course, your favorite Buffalo sauce is what really gives this dip it’s kick!
You bake this dish at 400-degrees for about 15 minutes – or until it starts getting bubbly. Then serve it with fresh carrot and celery sticks. There is shredded chicken meat involved, but you could also choose to eliminate it.
- Get the full recipe for Sonali’s Creamy Buffalo Chicken Dip
5. Crispy Green Bean Fries
So we’ve covered healthy dips – but what about stuff to dip with? Too many crackers, chips and pretzels can really load up your gut with carbs.
But here’s a green substitute for french fries that lets you dip to your heart’s content. Try making oven-baked fries with lightly breaded green beans!
Gina at the blog Running to the Kitchen has a recipe that looks amazing. Her breading includes panko bread crumbs and ground flax seed – the latter of which provides many nutritional benefits. She also uses a similar recipe to make fries from zucchini and asparagus.
Gina claims that greasy fries are not her downfall – but – she loves to dip stuff! In that case, she should check out the Green Bean Fries recipe on Simply Scratch. It comes with directions for making your own basil tomato ketchup! This recipe also uses shredded Asiago cheese for an extra burst of flavor.
If you can’t find fresh green beans, choose frozen. Canned green beans lose a lot of nutritional value – and they probably wouldn’t work well for this purpose either.
But beans that are frozen soon after being harvested can retain up to 90% of the Vitamin B content. They also provide carotenoids and silicon, which supports bone health.
- Check out the Green Bean Fries recipe on Running to the Kitchen
- Try the Asiago Green Bean Fries with Homemade Ketchup from Simply Scratch
6. Curried Cashews
For many, cashews are the most coveted members of the mixed nut family. They always get eaten first.
But imagine a whole bowl full of cashews with a unique spicy flavor! Curried cashews are something you’ve got to try.
Anetta from The Wanderlust Kitchen calls this one of her favorite snacks. You can have them ready to go in about 15 minutes.
First, Anetta melts coconut oil in a pan on the stove and adds the spices to it: curry powder, some salt and perhaps cayenne pepper if you like some extra heat. You roast raw cashews in the oven for about 10 minutes and then toss them in the spicy oil.
Cashews can provide hearth-healthy fats and are a good source of copper – a mineral that works as an antioxidant in your body. Plus, the coconut oil gives you beneficial medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs).
Anetta says this is an easy and impressive dish to break out for last minute guests or to bring to a party. Just make sure napkins are around around for this finger food – or you could have some yellowish fingertips for a while.
- Get Anetta’s Curry Roasted Cashew recipe at The Wanderlust Kitchen
7. Healthy Loaded Baked Potatoes
If you’re looking for a filling snack and feel like nachos are a bit over-done, try baking up some potatoes. This is another food that lets you add all the healthy toppings you want.
Potatoes themselves are pretty much a carbohydrates and rank high on the Glycemic Index. But they also offer some valuable nutritious. Potatoes provide plenty of dietary fiber, many minerals and are a good source of Vitamin B6.
Sweet potatoes are another option to consider as they will have less of an impact on your blood glucose than a baked white potato.
The possibilities for topping your tater with healthy stuff is practically endless. If all you can think of is bacon bits, cheddar cheese and sour cream – think again!
We found one recipe from Jessie Monds with apples, dried cranberries and roasted pecans on a sweet potato. There are also version with roasted grapes, goat cheese and honey. Try a baked potato topped with fresh tomatoes and feta cheese or black beans and salsa. If you can dream it…you can do it…to your potato.
- Check out 23 Ways to Eat a Baked Potato on Buzz Feed
Share Your Game-Day Snack Ideas!
Got your own special recipes for football season? Share them with us in the comments below!
Staying healthy should be a team sport. So don’t keep those ideas secret. We want to hear about them!
Here are some other stories with ideas for football food: