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Tips for a healthier tailgate

Football food done healthier.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Are you ready for some football? Fall is a great time to gather with friends and watch your favorite sports team while munching on fan-favorite foods.

Mercy Health Registered Dietitian Katie Francisco shares some nutrition tips and recipes to keep your tailgate calories in check.

Tips for Healthier Tailgate

  • Eat a balanced meal before you go. Eating a meal that includes healthy fats and protein before your tailgate will decrease the chance of you overeating.
  • Hydrate. Make sure you pre-hydrate with plenty of water. 
  • Add more vegetables! Whenever possible, substitute vegetables. They are low in calories yet high in fiber and packed with nutrients. Be creative – use lettuce instead of tortillas for a wrap, choose zoodles instead of ordinary noodles and scoop your favorite dips with veggies like pepper strips instead of tortilla chips.


Greek Salad Cucumber Bites


  • 1 large English cucumber, cut into slices
  • 12 cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced
  • 6 basil leaves
  • ⅓ cup olive oil pesto
  • 4 oz Feta cheese


  • Cover work surface with paper towel. Line up cucumber slices on the paper towel. Place additional paper towel on top of cucumbers and blot to dry. 
  • Spread pesto over cucumber. Sprinkle with feta and tomato. Top each slice with basil. Serve cold.

Crispy Garlic Edamame


  • 1 package shelled edamame
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper
  • garlic powder


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Pat edamame dry with paper towel.
  • Add to mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with pepper, salt and garlic.
  • Spread evenly onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake for 15 minutes until crispy.

Lemony Zucchini Noodle Salad


  • 2 medium to large zucchini, spiralized to a spaghetti-like size
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 can (15oz) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, more or less to taste


  • Place zucchini noodles in a large bowl. Add tomatoes, beans, feta, parsley, lemon juice, mint, olive oil, salt and red pepper flakes.
  • Toss to combine.
  • Taste and add more red pepper flakes as desired.
  • Serve immediately or store covered in fridge. 

Recipes were found at the following sites: www.healthyseasonalrecipes.com, www.rachelcooks.com and  www.spinach4breakfast.com.

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