Abigail Joy Dougherty: Registered Dietitian, Nutrition Expert & Lover of Life
Blog, Healthy Eating, Recipes

Tailgating – The Healthy Way

Football Season is upon us. Wooohooo – My FAVORITE time of year!!

One of the best parts of watching the big game is enjoying the company of friends and delicious food. But many traditional game-day favorites are loaded with calories—the average fan can take in an estimated 1,200 calories in one sitting.  Whether you’re in the stadium parking lot or having a party at your house – this event does not have to derail your healthy eating habits.  Score points with your fellow fans by putting a healthy twist on standards like Buffalo Chicken Wraps instead of Buffalo wings, healthy spinach dip, and sweet pumpkin hummus.

Photo courtesy of The Picky Eater

Whether you’re packing a cooler for a tailgating party or just having a few friends over to watch the game; tackle game-day overindulgence with this collection of healthy tailgating tips and recipes.  And remember that the first priority for the party is the event and the fellowship – not the food.

Enjoy your company and HAVE FUN!!

Hosting the party?

  1. Provide a satiating and healthy main dish.  It can be hard to go to parties and snack all day and never feel like you fill up on anything substantial.  Provide your guests with a fun and delicious main they can serve themselves and pick their own toppings.  Try to find the leanest ground beef, ground turkey breast or chicken main dishes. Try the Turkey and Black Bean Chili recipe below 🙂
  2. Prepare at least 3 appetizers for guests to graze on during the game. Make apps that are easy for guests to grab and go without having to peel their eyes away from the game.
  3. Make sure they get their fruits and vegetables – and if they don’t care, you get yours!  Try to have at least one appetizer or dish that makes these healthy items the star, even if it’s a simple veggie tray. Also try experimenting with new ingredients like Greek Yogurt instead of sour cream or blended cottage cheese, they’ll never know.

Guest of honor?

  1. Don’t go starving – that’s when your stomach takes over for your brain, almost always derailing your healthy plans. Have a nutritious snack before going to the game. Fuel up on fruit, veggies, half a sandwich, and  a big glass of water.
  2. Prepare your favorite go-to healthy appetizer or finger food to bring to the party.  This way you know there will be at least one healthy snack for you to enjoy.
  3. Check yourself before digging in: How hungry are you? Are you really hungry or do you just want to eat because it’s the thing to do? Evaluate and then go for it, whatever YOU decide! 🙂

Soul of Health Tip:

Whether you are throwing a party or attending a party, be happy with your choices and enjoy!  Balance is the key. No food is good or bad. All foods fit into your nutrition plan if you make sensible choices.

MVP Bloody Mary Bar!!  See it on Pinterest HERE - One of my top Pins :-)

MVP Bloody Mary Bar!! See it on Pinterest HERE – One of my top Pins 🙂


Turkey and Black Bean Chili


  • ½ lb ground turkey breast
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup of vegetable/s of choice – I used yellow squash and zucchini
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 14 .5 oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1 14 .5 oz can diced tomatoes with onions and garlic
  • 1 can chili beans
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed well and drained
  • 1 minced chipotle chile in adobo sauce (optional)
  • 1.5 cups corn, frozen or fresh, thawed


In large skillet over medium heat, combine ground turkey, ½ of the chopped onion, chopped vegetables.  Add 3 tbsp chili powder, cumin and garlic to the mix.  Continue cooking until turkey is done and vegetables are becoming tender ~7-9 minutes.  Add to the turkey mixtur tomatoes, chili beans, black beans and chipotle chile (optional) over medium heat until bubbling.  Turn burner to low and simmer for ~10-15 minutes.  Add in corn and mix until warmed throughout.

Serve with nonfat greek yogurt, cheese, baked chips, green onions, olives and/or avocado for toppings


Are you a football fan or just a tailgating fan?

What are you planning this Saturday??

What is your favorite finger food?

Enjoy! <3 Abigail


1 Comment to “Tailgating – The Healthy Way”

  1. Great post. Love the recipes. Perfect for a fall football game!

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