Healthy Snacks for Playoff Football

Was that last game against the Dolphins a nail-biter, or what?!  The Bills are just days away from their next playoff game, and I’m guessing most of you will be watching it.  Why not cheer our team on while enjoying some healthy, yet delicious, snacks? 

While we live in the pizza-and-wing capitol of the world, it doesn’t mean we have to give those up to make healthy choices.  We don’t even order them—why not make your own?  Making your own food is almost always cheaper and healthier than ordering takeout, and can be fun, too.  Plus, no one has to miss any of the game to go pick up food!

To make your own wings, start with 2.5 lbs raw chicken wings spread out on a half-sheet pan.  If you have a rack that sits on the sheet pan and allows the grease to drip below, even better.  Cooking the wings on the rack will allow them to crisp all over.  Sprinkle them with a seasoning mix, such as Frank’s Buffalo, and bake for about 30 minutes at 375 degrees, turning them once halfway through cooking.  Afterward, paint the wings with a Buffalo-type sauce, and allow them to crisp a bit in the oven for another 5 minutes.  Baking your wings cuts the calories in half and the fat by a FIFTH.  For example, two traditional fried wings contain approximately 300 calories and 21 grams fat, while baked wings contain about 150 calories and only 4-5 grams of fat.

In that same vein, consider making DIY pizzas!  My daughter, a toddler, thinks this is just the best.  She likes to make faces on her pizza with cut-up peppers, olives and pepperoni.  Whether you want to have that much fun with your pizza or not, making your own can save you a substantial amount of calories and fat.  For example, a large slice of pepperoni pizza from Pizza Hut can have 300-400 calories, while the homemade version will likely have only 150-200.  Additionally, you’ll save about half the amount of fat, too, by making your own.  To make your DIY pizzas even easier, use store-bought naan and jarred spaghetti sauce.  Be sure to include lots of vegetable toppings, like steamed broccoli and bell pepper slices.  

Of course, you can’t have a complete tailgate spread without a veggie tray!  It’s a no-brainer, and making your own saves tons of money and ensures your veggies are fresh.  Consider making your own ranch dip by mixing the ranch-seasoning packet with two cups of plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.   By using yogurt, you’ll cut your calories by almost 70% (!!!), decrease the fat and increase the protein.

Instead of buying a fruit tray, put out a bowl of clementines!  They’re in season right now, inexpensive and a crowd pleaser.  Plus, there’s no prep work!

As for packaged chips and snacks, popcorn is your best bet.  It’s low in calories and fat, and high in fiber.   Buy a plain or white-cheddar variety, as opposed to the microwave bags.  Popcorn is another fan favorite that is easy, light and goes well with the rest of our tailgate spread.

Lastly, we’ve gotta have a sweet treat!  Honestly, not everything has to be the ‘healthiest’ version of itself—food is meant to be enjoyed.  I really love brownies, and one easy way I cut some of the fat without sacrificing flavor is by replacing about half the oil with plain applesauce.  I promise you cannot tell the difference!  Decorate the top with red and blue M&Ms and you have a festive, easy and healthy dessert for a crowd!

Here’s hoping we go all the way!  Hey-ey-ey-ey!

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