There’s no doubt that Southerners love their college football teams. And just as much as they love supporting their team, the ritual of tailgating is equally important. For some, tailgating may actually be the main event. I would be included in this group because food always wins in my book!
As football fans across the country begin preparing for the season, here are a few tips and recipes to get you through the upcoming tailgating festivities without packing on the extra pounds.
The Warm-Up: Dips & Finger Foods
What’s a tailgating event, or really any gathering, without some good guacamole? Amber at Homemade Nutrition has a simple guac recipe for you. You’ll probably score extra points if you serve it in the avocado skin!
And when there’s guacamole at the party, you have to invite pico de gallo! Betsy at Super Market Nutrition has a tasty recipe with a secret ingredient for extra flavor. Pimento cheese is a classic Southern game day staple and Holley Grainger has a delicious, lightened up recipe on her blog. I love her idea of stuffing mini bell peppers with the cheesy goodness or topping cucumber slices with it.
Speaking of cucumbers, how about this creamy and cool Cucumber Onion Salad from Jessa at In Wealth & Health to kick things off?
And of course, don’t forget the bean dip! Whether it’s black beans in this Zesty Loaded Black Bean Salsa from Jamie at Dishing Out Health or this Cheesy Black-Eyed Pea Dip from yours truly, a bean dip is essential. Take advantage of the opportunity to add in lots of veggies for more color and nutritional benefits.
The Big Event: Main Dishes
These Meatloaf Poppers with Cheesy Potato Topping from Emily at Zen & Spice are absolutely perfect for game day. Plus the recipe includes a brown sugar ketchup dipping sauce. Comfort food served tailgate-style! I could eat a dozen of these REAL quick.
Pulled chicken is another great main dish option for a crowd. You can serve this Pulled Chicken from Katie at Healthy Bites on a bun, in tacos, or simply by itself.
Once the weather cools off, it will be time to bring out the chili for game day. This is my favorite crock-pot chili recipe which uses lean ground beef for a heart-healthy version.
The Final Touchdown: Sweets
Make the most of summer fruits while they’re still around by serving this Tangy Fruit Salad via Dixya at Food, Pleasure & Health. I love the creative use of the chaat masala spice blend for a unique twist.
Seeing as football is an iconic American sport and apple pie is an iconic food for our nation, it only seems appropriate to serve some version of apple pie prior to the big game. These mini apple pies from Yummy Addiction should do the trick!
HOLY FUDGE. THESE BROWNIES –> Healthy Pumpkin Walnut Brownies from The Healthy Adaptation will have everyone fooled, but VERY happy. Serve these and you may be voted MVP of the tailgate scene.
If you’re a hardcore tailgater or know someone who is, “The Southern Tailgating Cookbook” by Taylor Mathis is the ultimate guide to food and football in the South. Taylor spent time tailgating at each of the schools mentioned in the book which allowed him the opportunity to experience foods and game-day traditions unique to each university.
Finally, here are a few tips for a fun and safe tailgate experience!
What team will you be cheering for this season? Any tailgating tips you’d like to share?