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Score Extra Points with a Healthy Tailgate Party

When you think about typical tailgate fare, what comes to mind? Greasy wings, pizza with extra cheese, beer, soda, hot dogs? These are just some unhealthy items that may not help you stick to a healthy diet plan.

Why not avoid a nutrition penalty this year by tossing together a game-day menu that tastes great — and is also good for you?

Jenny Craig Chief Dietitian Lisa Talamini offers the following winning strategies:

  • Pack baby carrots, grape or cherry tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet peas, and jicama sticks to satisfy your cravings for crunchy finger foods. Serve with fat-free Ranch dressing or hummus, which is rich in fiber and protein and makes a great lowfat dip.
  • Try baked potato chips instead of their fuller-fat counterparts. Individual-sized bags are also a convenient way to prevent overeating.
  • When making sandwiches, choose hearty, whole grain breads, lean cuts of meat, and reduced-fat cheese. Then add lots of cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers, onions and sprouts for added crunch and flavor.
  • Be cautious with condiments. A tablespoon of mayonnaise contains about 100 calories and 11 grams of fat. Save half the calories and fat by choosing light mayonnaise ... or use mustard, which has almost no calories or fat at all!
  • Instead of the usual hamburgers and hot dogs, grill shrimp, chicken, heart-healthy salmon or meatless options like garden burgers or soy dogs. Make zesty kabobs by alternating marinated lean meats, chicken, vegetables and fruit on skewers.
  • Bring along plenty of calorie-free flavored waters, diet soda, sugar-free iced tea or lemonade, and low-sodium vegetable juice. If you're bringing wine, make a refreshing spritzer (half wine/half club soda) for half the calories.
  • Serve an exotic fruit plate featuring apples, pears, grape clusters, whole strawberries, raspberries, pineapple chunks, peach slices, melon balls and other seasonal favorites. Make a simple-yet-delicious fruit dip by combining 1 1/3 cups vanilla lowfat yogurt, 1/4 cup low-sugar orange marmalade, and 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Angel food cake topped with fresh fruit and fat-free whipped topping is another light dessert option.
  • Above all, keep your foods safe! No one wants food poisoning on game day! Cold foods should be kept below 40° F, and hot foods above 140° F when possible. Bacteria multiply quickly when food is in the"danger zone" of 40-140° F, so avoid eating any food that has been in that range for more than two hours.

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