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In the kitchen with Kelley: 6 ways to score with game day food

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It’s that time again! Football season is upon us and that means lots of spirited gatherings with friends that will, hopefully, include food that’s so good the party will be worth it even if your team loses.

The typical game day food fare tends to include salty chips fried in unhealthy trans fats… high-calorie mayonnaise, sour cream or cheese-based dips… and plenty of pizza, burgers or hot wings.

Even though indulging in junk foods every once in while may not be the end of the world (especially if you counter the ill effects with flavanones), you can easily make your favorite party foods healthier by substituting a few key ingredients — without sacrificing any of the taste.

All you have to do is keep these great food swaps in mind when reworking your favorite recipes — or try some of mine suggested below:

  1. Instead of mayo, use hummus or avocado. Mayonnaise is nearly all fat, with zero nutrients. Meanwhile hummus and avocado are both nutrient-rich, high in fiber and healthy fats. Try this recipe for egg salad made with avocado or add guacamole to your burger (like in this recipe) to boost your health score. My favorite hummus recipe is a win every time too.
  1. Instead of sour cream, use Greek yogurt. Thick and creamy Greek yogurt is a tangy and healthy food swap for sour cream in your dip recipe or on baked potatoes. It’s also a great stand in for mayo and cream cheese. It can even fill your dessert needs — think Greek yogurt and honey
  1. Instead of meat, use veggies. Sturdy “meaty” veggies, such as carrots, eggplant and portabella mushrooms, make great meat stand-ins. For a twist on “pulled pork,” place 5 medium carrots (peeled with a vegetable peeler and then shredded) along with one cup of barbeque sauce in a crockpot for 6 hours on low. Jack fruit is also great for crockpot barbeque. Marinated portabella mushroom caps make great burger alternatives (or stuff and grill them).
  1. Instead of bread, use greens. Whether you’re dining on burgers or a simple turkey and avocado, ditch the bread and wrap your sandwich in lettuce leaves instead. Mustard greens, romaine and iceberg stand up well. Try this BLT lettuce wrap recipe. Drizzle with homemade honey mustard (no HFCS!).
  1. Instead of cheese dip, try bean dip. My go-to favorites are white bean dip and black bean dip. Both food swaps pack protein and flavor.
  1. Instead of sugary treats, use fruit. Greek yogurt makes a great dip for fresh fruit, or consider this match made in heaven: bacon-wrapped pineapple bites.

Your friends will get thirsty eating all this great food so serve them up something hydrating and energizing: switchel. Three-ingredient switchel (best with club soda, IMHO) is really quick and simple to make. It’s also full of good-for-you nutrients. And its complex flavors make it a popular cocktail mixer too, pairing well with rum. With or without alcohol, switchel tastes great.

Here’s to a great season of healthy food swaps and wins for you and your team!

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