Game Day Strategies for a Penalty-Free Party Menu


Ready, Set Tailgate! Game Day Strategies for a Penalty-Free Party

Some of you may have figured through this blog or by looking at the cartoon of me and Katherine (I am in the NY Giants jersey) that  I’m a NFL Super Fan.  I get emails from NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell,  I buy NFL apparel, I subscribe to NFL network and NFL RedZone and I spend September-January watching football or talking about it with or to anyone who will listen to me.

Since I’m anticipating the NFL referee lockout to be over soon, and I can really start getting into watching my favorite teams again.  When I’m watching football that also means I’m thinking about what to eat while watching football. And, it means I can get out my favorite WinCraft Official NFL snack helmets* to fill them up with better-for-you choices.

Since beer, wings, pizza and chips are considered the official foods of football, a typical tailgate menu can set you back some 1,500 calories or more.

Here are some simple substitutions in your Game Day menu can make you the “MVP” of the party.

PistachiosPistachios Make the Party

Eating while watching your team can lead to mindless munching, so pistachios are a great option because they put a break on mindless eating.  The shell helps moderate consumption and the leftover shells serve as a visual reminder of how much you’ve eaten.  Pistachios  have more protein and fiber compared other nuts, and that can make you fuller longer.   

chips_and_dipsBlitz on Chips and Game Day Dips

Opt for baked chips like Baked Multigrain Tortilla chips, Pop Chips instead of fried potato chips and air-popped popcorn. Use our all-star chips as a guide.

Gucamole is a Game Day essential and to make it lower in calories, simply add more tomato to it to make more of an GucaSala. Slim down Game Day dips by using nonfat plain Greek yogurt in place of sour cream. Using a cup of nonfat Greek yogurt in place of regular sour cream shaves off 315 calories and 45 grams of fat from the recipe. Other skinny dips include hummus and bean dip. For some great dip recipes, check out these from

skinny_slidersBench Wings and Put Burgers on Your Playbook

For a main course to serve and ones to sack, go with burgers made from ground sirloin or 95% lean ground beef; or make a turkey or salmon burger.  If you make them slider size, you’ll serve up a protein-rich calorie bargain.

Wings pack in about 75 calories—not counting the dip! If you’re serving pizza, make sure it’s veggie-rich and ask for half the cheese and meat toppings.

low_calorie_beerScore with Extra Light Beer

As an official food group of football, beer is required if it’s a real football party. There are 150 calories in a bottle of regular and 95-100 in most light beers.  But if you try a new extra light choices, like MGD 64, Budweiser Select 54 or Beck’s Premier Light you’ll not only have a skinnier sip, you’ll help damper the appetite-stimulating impact of alcohol.



snack_helmetWin a NFL Snack Helmet

*If you like the WinCraft snacks helmets that I use at home and in my TV segments, you can get them here at the NFL Shop. However, we’ve got one to give away this football weekend and hopefully throughout the football season. So be sure to enter our giveaway today!



Mini_mexican_meatballsSkinny Mini Mexican Meatball Tostadas

This recipe is from Nancy Fox, of Skinny Kitchen.  If you haven’t checked out Skinny Kitchen, be sure to do so for great, calorie-controlled recipes.

Ingredients for Meatballs

1 egg, I like Eggland’s Best eggs

1 cup onions, finely chopped

¼ cup cornmeal

1 (1 oz) package Lawry’s taco seasoning

2 tablespoons salsa

1 pound extra lean ground beef or turkey, see shopping tip

Ingredients for Tostadas

48 Tostitos Baked Scoops, see shopping tip

3 cups romaine lettuce, shredded or chopped fine

½ cup Nancy’s Skinny Ranch Dressing or fat-free sour cream

½ cup salsa, I like Pace Medium Chunky Salsa or your favorite


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat a baking pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, mix together egg, onions, cornmeal, taco seasonings and salsa.
Add beef or turkey and blend well.

3. Using a  measuring tablespoon, scoop 1 level tablespoon for each meatball and roll into a ball. Repeat to make 48 meatballs. Place meatballs on a baking pan. Bake, uncovered, for about 12 minutes, until cooked completely. These can be prepped in advance and reheated before serving. They also freeze well.

4. To assemble each mini tostada: Place 1 tablespoon lettuce in each baked scoop. Drizzle with ½ teaspoon ranch or sour cream.  Add 1 meatball. Drizzle ½ teaspoon salsa on top of each. Repeat to make 48 meatballs.

5. Serve at once.

Makes 48 mini meatball tostadas


Another great recipe: Her 13-calorie Skinny Sliders with carmelized onions.

Skinny GuacaSalsa


  • 2 Ripe Fresh Hass Avocados, seeded, peeled and diced
  • 2 1arge ripe tomato, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 1 large lime, juice only
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  1. In medium bowl, combine all ingredients.
  2. Toss well and maintain chunky consistency.


Roasted Potato Pizzas

Potato_pizzaYield: 4 servings (3


  • Vegetable oil spray
  • 1 pound medium Idaho Potatoes, scrubbed and cut into approximately 12 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/3 cup spaghetti sauce or bottled pizza sauce
  • 3/4 cup shredded low-fat Mozzarella cheeseOptions for pizza toppings:
  • 12 slices pepperoni (quartered)
  • 1/4 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup minced green pepper
  • 1/4 cup sliced ripe olives


  1. Preheat oven to 425° degrees. Spray a large baking sheet with vegetable oil spray; arrange potatoes on sheet in one layer; spray the potatoes. Bake for 20 minutes, until lightly browned.
  2. Remove potatoes from oven. Using a spatula, turn the slices over on the baking sheet. Spread a teaspoon of spaghetti sauce on each slice. Arrange desired toppings on each slice; sprinkle slices with cheese and bake 4 minutes until cheese is melted. Using a spatula, remove slices from baking sheet and serve.

Estimated Nutritional Analysis per Serving:
203 calories, 5 g fat, 11 mg cholesterol, 214 mg sodium, 9 g protein, 32 g carbohydrates


  1. says

    What a terrific article Julie. Thanks so much for including my two skinny recipes, Skinny Mini Mexican Meatball Tostadas and Skinny Sliders with carmelized onions. Love your site and what you and Katherine do!

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