How to Throw a Game Day Party with Healthier Snacks

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Football season is mere weeks away. Whether you watch college football, pro teams or both, you’re sure to come across a barrage of unhealthy, fattening and calorie-laden snacks. While you can’t control what someone serves in their own home, you can throw your own football parties, complete with healthy and delicious alternatives to traditional favorites.

Build a Healthier 7-Layer Dip

7-Layer Dip is a popular appetizer at most parties, but as tasty as it is, all the dairy and refried beans adds up to tons of unneeded calories and fat. You don’t have to forego this favorite, though. Just make a couple of substitutions. Instead of guacamole and sour cream, used mashed avocado and Greek yogurt. Also, trade refried beans for black beans instead.

Don’t Fry the Chicken Wings

You can’t have a party without chicken wings, but you can have it without all the extra oil. Instead of frying your wings, make them even more delicious by seasoning them and grilling or baking them. Get rid of the breaded wings altogether.

Swap Your Chips for Spicy Garbanzo Beans

Garbanzo beans – sometimes called chickpeas – are as tasty as they are healthy. Use your desired blend of spices, such as curry or a Mexican spice blend, add in a bit of sea salt and just a tablespoon of olive oil, and toss the garbanzo beans in them. Bake in a single layer for about 30 minutes or until crispy. They’ll have the same taste and crunch as spicy potato chips but without the unhealthy layer of oil.

Make Your Own Pizzas

Sure, it’s easy to call up your local pizza joint and order a slew of giant pies, but not only is it greasier than homemade pies and not nearly as healthy as making your own, it’s also more expensive. Making your own saves money and calories and can even be fun. Use whole wheat dough that you either purchase or make yourself, low-sugar sauce and your choice of toppings. Chicken and vegetables are delicious and add protein and nutrients to your menu.

Bake Fries at Home

Before you even think about picking up bags of frozen fries at the grocery store, consider making your own. For the healthiest option, use sweet potatoes, but even regular potatoes made at home are healthier than the processed fries at the store. Season with salt and pepper or your own blend of seasonings and bake until done. For crispier fries, slice your potatoes into long, thin strips. If you like them a bit softer, cut them into wedges.

Stir Your Own Ranch Dip

You can create your own healthy version of ranch dip in less than five minutes. Grab a large container of plain Greek yogurt, a packet of ranch seasoning and stir. Yes, it’s really that simple, and it’s a lot healthier.

Offer Healthier Dessert Options

Skip the giant cakes and tons of cookies for healthier options like gelatin with real whipped cream, low-fat pudding or fruit kebabs with berries, pineapple and other tropical fruits. If you must have cake, serve healthier options such as angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream.

Consider Your Alcohol

Most alcoholic drinks are full of tons of calories by the time you factor in the alcohol and the mixers. Skip the high-calorie cocktails in favor of simpler, somewhat healthier drinks. Vodka has about 100 calories in 1 ½ ounces, and if you mix it with soda water, you won’t add extra calories. Whiskey and gin are also good options and have about the same amount of calories, depending on the brand. Avoid extra calories by taking it neat on the rocks. If beer is a must-have, serve Guinness. A 12-ounce glass has only 128 calories.

Store-Bought Options

If you don’t have time to create and prepare an elaborate menu, don’t fret. There are still things you can buy ready-made that are healthier than the average item. Hampton Creek creates plant-based products that taste just as good as traditional versions. Look for their mayonnaise and ranch dressing for sweet and savory condiments to use at your party. If you can’t skip the cookies, purchase their premixed cookie dough. It may be organic, but it doesn’t taste like it, and baking is as simple as dropping tablespoons onto the cookie sheet and sticking it in the oven.

By offering healthier options, you can have a fun football party (as long as your team wins, of course) without everyone leaving in a food coma. Are your friends picky? Who’s to say you have to tell them? Simply serve the healthy treats and watch them dig in.