College football season is in full swing, with four Hawkeye home games scheduled for September! (Wowza!) If you find yourself stuck in a menu rut, or craving an easy fix, here are five healthy options for your next tailgate that will leave you with minimal game day guilt.
1.) All the hummus
Craft a hummus tray. This is my go-to for Hawkeye football season for home tailgates and away games in our living room.
Create a rainbow tray of your favorite veggies, plus a little starchy snack on the side, like pita chips/bread, crackers or pretzels, really whatever your heart desires. Living in Iowa City, my heart belongs to Oasis Falafel, and I’ll spend a little extra on their locally made hummus (you can buy it at your favorite local grocery store), but really any brand will do.
- Baby carrots
- Bell pepper combo bag (1 red, 1 yellow, 2 green)
- Cherry tomatos
- Pita Chips
- Pretzel twists
- Oasis hummus
Slice your veggies, then set out your chips, and lop the lid off your hummus. Bam! Done.
2.) Crockpot hot-sandwiches
Forget the grill. Create your favorite pulled sandwich with chicken or pork. Cook the meat in the crockpot with your favorite sauce – whether it is BBQ or Buffalo.
- Two large chicken breasts
- Favorite BBQ sauce
Place the chicken in the bottom of the Crockpot, lather with a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or high for 2 to 4 hours. Remove chicken and shred with two forks. Serve with whole-wheat buns, or eat it plain. We like to top with spinach, pickles and thinly sliced onion.
3.) Egg casserole
For those 11 a.m. kickoffs with early morning tailgates, this is our go-to breakfast. The beauty of this dish is you can keep it as simple or complex as you like. You can go the classic egg and cheese route, overload with veggies, or for meat lovers add sausage, ham or bacon. Or just add all of it!
- 8 to 10 eggs
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- Sliced peppers (1 cup)
- Onion (half)
- Sliced deli ham or pre-cooked ham steak (cubed)
- 1 bag shredded cheddar cheese
Slice the peppers and onion, and then shred the ham. Set aside. Wisk together eggs and milk, and then mix in the veggies and meat. Cover with shredded cheese. Place in a baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
Bake until set, and no longer runny. Slice and enjoy.
4.) Rice Treats
It really doesn’t get easier than these sweet treats, and they are relatively low-cal compared to other tailgate cookies or bars. Plus, you only need three ingredients.
- 1 stick butter
- 1 bag marshmallows
- 6 cups rice cereal
Heat a large pot on the stove, low-to-medium heat. Add a stick of butter and then let it melt. Mix in marshmallows, and stir while melting. Add the cereal and stir. Once mixed, transfer and press to a greased baking dish. Cut and serve!
If you are feeling especially spirited you can use Jell-O or other fun molds to press your treats into footballs or your favorite team’s mascot. (Herky!) Just grease your fingers first.
5.) Leave the cooking to someone else.
This is probably my best tip. No one will judge you if you order pizza, carry out from your favorite local restaurant (see Chomp), or stop by the pre-made section of the grocery store.
Cooking for four home games in a row is a lot!
Also consider taking the stress off yourself and coordinate a potluck. Our family keeps a running live Google document that we share ahead of the game. We ask our guests to sign up to bring a dish and drink to share.
What is your favorite tailgating tip or treat? Share in the comments below!