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.

Recipes

Greek Salad Cucumber Bites

Ingredients:

  • 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

Instructions:

  • 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

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

  • 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

Ingredients:

  • 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

Instructions:

  • 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.

►Make it easy to keep up to date with more stories like this. Download the 13 ON YOUR SIDE app now.

Love My West Michigan? Check us out on Facebook and Instagram. Subscribe to our YouTube channel.