Written by: Sophie Blumenthal, dietetic intern
October means the return of football season, tailgating, beer drinking, and yummy food. It also means crisp air, sweater weather, and saying goodbye to swimsuit season! For some of us this is a relief. It’s important to remember though that we shouldn’t postpone healthy eating until the weather is warmer. It’s still easy to eat healthy and be social while enjoying the most exciting parts of fall.
With a little planning, football does not have to mean long sedentary periods, snacks high in saturated fat, lots of beer, and mindless eating. A few quick swaps can leave you feeling confident that you’re keeping yourself on track without making big sacrifices.
Involve activity! Use commercial breaks as a time to stand up and stretch. Crunches, pushups, leg extensions or arm circles can all be done from your couch. During halftime, consider taking the dog for a walk or throwing your own football around outside.
Don’t forget the veggies! Vegetables can easily be swapped in to your snack spread. Don’t want to part with your favorite dip? Swap the potato chips that are high in saturated fat for carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, or any veggies you like!
Drink! Water, that is. Make sure you’re drinking adequate water to prevent dehydration. This will also help you be more in tune with your hunger level to avoid overeating. Limit beer and sugar sweetened beverages. Try diluting sweet beverages with water to reduce the calories.
Think balance! Assembling a plate instead of just eating out of the snack bags to help with portion control. Focusing on making half your plate vegetables, ¼ of your plate protein and ¼ carbohydrates. This might look like chili, vegetables with dip, and whole wheat crackers. Additionally, eating off a plate increases satisfaction and allows you to feel sated after eating. If we’re eating out of a big bag of chips, most of us won’t feel satisfied until we reach the bottom!
Don’t pass on the fat! Including healthy fats in your snacks can leave you feeling more satisfied. Unsaturated fats including avocado, nuts, fish, seeds, and olive oil can help lower cholesterol and provide cardioprotective benefits.
Eat mindfully! Watching tv while eating can lead to greater consumption. To limit mindless eating, try eating only during commercials, or in a place away from the television. Placing the snacks away from the seating area can also help with overeating. Out of sight and out of mind! And, if you do decide on seconds, a quick walk to the snack table will be a perfect stretch of the legs.
The buffalo cauliflower recipe below is a winning game day snack. It will satisfy your craving for wings while providing Vitamin C, sulforaphane (which has cancer-fighting and anti-inflammatory properties), fiber, choline, antioxidants and many other nutrients!
1 head of cauliflower (approx. 4 cups of florets)
½ cup dairy, soy, or almond milk
½ cup water
¾ cup all-purpose or gluten-free flour
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp of paprika
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground pepper
1 cup frank’s red hot sauce
1 tbsp butter or butter replacement
Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper or grease very well with oil. Preheat oven to 425o F.
Wash and cut cauliflower head into bite sized pieces/florets.
Mix the milk, water, flour and spices in a medium mixing bowl. Mix until the batter is thick and can coat the cauliflower without dripping.
Dip the cauliflower in the batter. Shake off excess batter before placing cauliflower on the baking sheet. Lay the cauliflower single layer on the baking sheet.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Flip the florets half way through to get all sides golden brown and crispy.
While the cauliflower is baking, get your buffalo wing sauce ready. In a small saucepan on low heat melt butter and mix in hot sauce. Remove from the heat just as it starts to melt. Stir together and set aside.
Once the battered cauliflower is done baking, remove from oven and place baked florets into a mixing bowl with the wing sauce. Toss to coat evenly. Return cauliflower to baking sheet and bake in the oven for another 20-25 minutes.
For added protein and less fat, serve with a Greek yogurt based dressing. Many brands such as Bolthouse Farms and Hidden Valley make Greek yogurt dressings that can be found in your grocery stores produce section.
Recipe adapted from: