Enjoy Tailgates without the Extra Calories this Football Season

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Photo courtesy of Flickr user University of Central Arkansas


Gathering with friends and fellow fans has been a part of the college football experience since, well, the first football game. The magnitude of the tailgates varies depending on the school or conference, but there is no denying that tailgating is essential to how students, alumni, and fans alike spend their Saturdays.

I grew up in a house where fall equaled football season, and the love of the sport carried over to my college experience. I attended and graduated from a college that has a powerhouse football program, which meant every Saturday morning all the fans gathered to tailgate and participate in the comradely environment that I’ve only ever experienced at college games. Some of my favorite college memories took place before or during a game.

Tailgating, however, was one of my weaknesses when it came to warding off the infamous Freshman 15. I always over indulged in the rich food and drinks that were at the tailgates I attended. I enjoyed it the first couple of weeks, right up until my pants started fitting a little tighter. Oops. I wish I had known some of these tips and recipes to prevent my waistline from growing and consequently my clothes from fitting tighter.

  • Don’t head out to the game hungry, you’ll eat and drink much more than you would if you had eaten something first
  • Use the party platter garnishes and burger toppings to make a big garden salad if one isn’t on the menu
  • Use a plate for finger foods so you can keep track of how much you’re eating instead of eating directly from a tray or bowl
  • Keep your distance from the salty chips and snacks since it’s hard to stop once you start and they make you drink more
  • Enjoy diet soda or another low calorie drink to save you from unnecessary calories

My go to dish to bring to tailgates was Buffalo Chicken Dip. My friends always requested that I bring it to any tailgate I was attending, but I wish I had known about this skinny version from Gimme Some Oven.


4 oz. (half a block) reduced-fat (or fat-free) cream cheese, softened
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup shredded part-skim Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup hot sauce (I prefer Frank’s)
1/2 cup crumbled light blue cheese
1 tablespoon ranch seasoning (optional)
3 cups shredded cooked chicken


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, stir all ingredients together until well-mixed. Transfer mixture to a small greased baking dish, and bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the edges begin to slightly brown. Remove and serve immediately.

So, freshman, heed the advice of one of your elders and be careful what you eat at your tailgates this season, or you may have trouble fitting into your clothes come playoffs. Here are some other food ideas that are delicious while helping to ward off the extra pounds.


Posted on September 8, 2015 at 3:00 am

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