Friday, September 25, 2015

Tailgate Snacks

Hello, hello! How are you guys doing? I hope you're finishing off a wonderful week. It's hard for my week to be anything but wonderful when you get a day off in the middle of it. I think I'm going to start a petition for that to be an actual thing. I can't even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed my fall holiday. Casually waking up, a slow morning, new recipes, lots of time spent in the sunshine, hours of baking, and a whole lot of downtime. If that didn't revive me for a full school day, I don't know what would. Plus, I got to be the fall treats fairy for the English department on Thursday, and you guys know how much I love baking for other people. I was told that I'm going to make a good wife one day. The operative phrase being one day.


It's fall, so that means lots and lots of pumpkin. Or does that make me a basic white girl?
But we're going to switch gears a little bit. I mentioned in yesterday's post that I welcome the start of fall because it means football season. I can spend hours just sitting on the couch watching football. If it's not Texas breaking my heart, it's the Texans. Or the Eagles. Or the Colts. So while it would be easy to drown my football sorrows in comfort food, I'll feel better if I make smart snacking choices. Because let's be honest - snacking is part of football season. My dad has been known to order Philadelphia Cheesesteaks FROM PHILADELPHIA to eat while watching an Eagles game. That may not be the healthiest choice, but hey, we're allowed an indulgence or two every now and again. But just because we find ourselves glued to the television screen on game day, doesn't mean we have to succumb to wearing our stretchy pants. The Texans may fumble the ball more than I would care to admit, but over at Nuts.com, they believe that game day food choices don't have to be a fumble.


And Texas football is a fumble no more! Hopefully, anyway.
But while everyone else is enjoying nachos, seven-layer dips, and other delicious appetizers, you don't want to be the one who is over there munching on the raw broccoli. And lucky for you, healthy eating doesn't have to be boring. There are ample crowd-pleasing game-time snacks that won't pack on the pounds. And you'll find some of my favorites below.

Fajitas
Mexican food and football go together like the words Hook'em and Horns. Especially down here in Texas. But Mexican food is not always the healthiest choice. Chips and cheese and sour cream all taste good, but I think we can all agree that they leave you feeling less than your best. I am not sure that I would have come up with the idea of fajitas on my own, but I came home one day to my parents cooking up a bunch of fajita meat before an Eagles game one Sunday. All you need is some lean chicken and/or beef, bell peppers, onions, guacamole, maybe a little bit of cheese, and corn tortillas. As well as any spices that you may desire. Throw the meat and veggies into a pan, stick it it into the oven, scoop them into the tortillas, and garnish them as you wish. Healthy and delicious.


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Quinoa Pizza Bites
Pizza is another game-day go-to. Sure, it may be easier to call up Domino's or Pizza Hut and have the pizza delivered right to your door, but I guarantee you won't regret making these quinoa pizza bites. Quinoa is all the rage these days anyway, so this is perfect if you happen to find yourself with some leftover quinoa. These pizza bites are easy, customizable, kid-friendly, and there's just no way you can feel guilty after popping one (or two or three or four) into your mouth.


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Buffalo Cauliflower Bites
Hot wings are another classic game-day snack. They're spicy, they're messy, they're tasty, and let's just be honest. We've all found ourselves licking our fingers with 10 clean bones on the plate below us. It can be hard to stop sometimes! But with these buffalo cauliflower bites, you don't have to feel guilty. And I'll be the first one to say that I am not a huge fan of cauliflower. I'll eat it, but it's not my first choice. But these cauliflower bites are delicious. If you're not dairy-intolerant, you can certainly use regular butter in place of vegan margarine, but I will recommend that you don't cut these pieces too small. You want a nice big "wing" to bite into. And hey, let yourself indulge a little bit and dip these into your favorite ranch dressing.


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Healthified Mozzarella Sticks
Who doesn't love a good mozzarella stick? I have never cared much for Sonic, but I used to salivate over their mozzarella sticks. And it doesn't take a genius to know that fried cheese is not the best choice. But the good news is that there are ways to make them healthier. This recipe bakes instead of fries, uses no butter, and calls for store-bought cheese sticks. Doesn't get much better than that!


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Black Bean Corn and Avocado Dip
Chips and dip is a serious part of game-day. It's something you eat so mindlessly that you don't even realize that your pants are suddenly fitting a little bit tighter. And you'd be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't enjoy a good seven-layer dip. Well, this dip might not be seven layers, but it is one that will have you fighting your neighbor for the last few scoops. This black bean corn and avocado dip is all the taste, without the guilt. And if you choose pita chips over Tostitos, you're really rocking and rolling.


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Chocolate Covered Strawberries
What is football without dessert? My favorite part of going to sports games as a kid was definitely the soft serve ice cream. And who doesn't love curling up with a bowl of Blue Bell while cheering your team onto victory? While that's all good and nostalgic, these chocolate covered strawberries will not only please the waistline and palette, but that will be sure to impress your guests. Dipped in chocolate and decorated with white icing, the only fumble you'll make is not giving one of these a try.


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I hope this post gets you guys ready for this weekend's games. I'm hoping I can cheer the Texans onto their first win, but I'm not holding onto too much hope. Before you call me a pessimist, you have to understand that I grew up in Houston. And I know that our teams are more than capable of imploding at the last minute. Cough, Astros, cough. Not pessimistic; just realistic. Anyway, I want to give a special shout out to Nuts.com for giving me the opportunity to talk about my favorite healthy game-day snacks. And if you're looking for even more healthy snacks, please check out their Healthy Snacks page. Because they're absolutely right - healthy snacking is one of the keys to diet success. And healthy eating doesn't have to be bland or boring. You just have to get creative. And I hope this helped get your creative juices flowing. Because with these recipes, you can have your cake and eat it, too.

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