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5 Healthy Alternatives for Tailgate Snacks

5 Healthy Alternatives for Tailgate Snacks

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Football season has officially kicked off, and that means it’s time for one of our favorite pastimes: tailgating.

Football and food go hand in hand, but let’s face it — most tailgate goodies don’t qualify as healthy. To help you keep your game face on, we’ve put together a list of tasty — and nutritious — foods you can enjoy this football season while you cheer your favorite team to victory.

Parmesan-Crusted Zucchini Fries 


1/3 cup (about 1 1/2 oz.) finely shredded fresh Parmesan cheese

1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

1 large egg, beaten

3 small zucchini (1 1/4 lbs.)

Cooking spray

1/2 cup tomato-basil pasta sauce


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine first five ingredients in a small shallow bowl. Place egg in a separate shallow bowl. Trim ends from zucchini; cut each zucchini in half crosswise. Quarter each zucchini half lengthwise to make 24 zucchini sticks. Dip zucchini in egg; dredge in panko mixture, pressing to coat. Place zucchini on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Coat tops of zucchini in cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately with pasta sauce for dipping. 

Microwave Sweet Potato Chips


1 (14-oz.) sweet potato, very thinly sliced, divided

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary, divided

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

Cooking spray


Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit a microwave-safe plate; coat parchment lightly with cooking spray. Arrange one-fourth of the potato slices in a single layer on parchment. Sprinkle evenly with 1/4 teaspoon rosemary, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and a dash of pepper. Microwave at power level 9 for four minutes. Check for crispness. Continue to cook at 30-second intervals until done. Repeat with remaining potato, rosemary, salt and pepper.

White Bean and Bacon Dip with Rosemary Pita Chips

Chips ingredients:

1/2 teaspoon dried crushed rosemary

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 (6-inch) pitas, each cut into 8 wedges

Cooking spray

Dip ingredients:

2 applewood-smoked bacon slices, chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/3 cup fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth

1 (19-oz.) can cannellini beans, drained

1/4 cup chopped green onions

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon paprika


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To prepare chips, combine first four ingredients. Arrange pita wedges in a single layer on a baking sheet. Lightly coat pita wedges with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with rosemary mixture. Lightly recoat pita wedges with cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

To prepare dip, cook bacon in a small saucepan over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon; set aside. Add garlic to drippings in pan; cook one minute, stirring frequently. Add broth and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.

Combine bean mixture, onions, and remaining ingredients in a food processor, and process until smooth. Spoon mixture into a bowl; stir in one tablespoon reserved bacon. Sprinkle dip with remaining bacon just before serving. Serve with pita chips

Pico de Gallo


2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 medium-size ripe avocado, diced

1/4 cup diced white onion

1 serrano or jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Salt to taste


Toss together first six ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and chill one hour. Season with salt to taste. 

Salmon Burgers


1 pound skinless center-cut salmon fillets, cut into 1-inch pieces, divided

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, divided

2 teaspoons grated lemon rind

2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon

1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots (about 1 small)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon honey

1 cup arugula leaves

1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

Cooking spray

4 (1 1/2-oz.) hamburger buns, toasted


Place 1/4 pound salmon, one tablespoon mustard and lemon rind in a food processor; process until smooth; spoon into a large bowl. Place remaining 3/4 pound salmon in food processor; pulse six times or until coarsely chopped. Fold chopped salmon, tarragon, shallots, salt and pepper into puree. Divide mixture into four equal portions, gently shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Cover and chill until ready to grill. Preheat grill to medium heat. Combine the remaining one tablespoon mustard and honey in a small bowl and set aside. Combine arugula, onion, juice and oil in a medium bowl. Set aside. Lightly coat both sides of burgers with cooking spray. Place patties on a grill rack; grill two minutes. Carefully turn patties, and grill for an additional one minute or until desired degree of doneness. Place one patty on bottom half of each bun; top each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons honey mixture, 1/4 cup arugula mixture and top half of bun.