Football fare is typically filled with meat and cheese, but health-conscious people like to watch games and eat snacks, too. The best hosts are those who prepare food everyone can enjoy, so you’d be wise to have a roster of nutritious snacks for the big game. While healthy food might initially seem like a drag at a football party, you may be surprised at how many tasty recipes for game day there are. Forget sliders and wings. Try these tasty snacks instead.
1. Healthy Mozzarella Sticks
We’re kicking things off with some cheese. These baked mozzarella sticks from Food Network will be the first to get eaten at your Sunday bash, and they’re a snack that everyone can enjoy. Because they’re baked instead of fried, they’re much healthier. Plus, prep time is just 25 minutes.
- 10 whole-grain Melba toasts
- ⅓ cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Large pinch ground cayenne, optional
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 large egg
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ⅓ cup whole wheat pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
- 8 sticks part-skim mozzarella string cheese, halved crosswise
- Olive oil cooking spray, for coating the cheese sticks
- ⅓ cup store-bought marinara sauce, warmed, for serving
Directions: Pulse the Melba toasts in a food processor to make semi-coarse crumbs; transfer to a medium bowl or dish. Mix in the breadcrumbs, oregano, ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper and the cayenne if using.
Whisk together the egg whites, whole egg, garlic and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper in another bowl.
Put the flour and ¼ teaspoon salt in a resealable plastic bag. Add the cheese pieces to the bag, close and shake to coat. Dip one piece of the cheese at a time in the egg mixture first, and then roll firmly in the breadcrumb mixture; then dip the same piece again in the egg mixture followed by the breadcrumb mixture. Place on a parchment paper-lined plate or baking sheet. Freeze for 15 minutes, or up to overnight.
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Transfer the frozen cheese sticks to another baking sheet. Fully coat the cheese sticks with the olive oil cooking spray. Bake until golden, about 12 minutes. Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper to taste.
2. Southwest Veggie Nachos
These southwest veggie nachos from Epicurious prove you won’t miss the meat when you top your chips with veggies, beans, and cheese. They’re healthy not only because they’re meat-free, but also because the chips are also baked instead of fried. You’ll serve these nachos with a homemade salsa made from tomato, onions, cilantro, lime juice, and avocado. These veggie nachos make a great game-day treat.
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 6 ounces baked tortilla chips
- 1 can (15 ounces) low-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- ½ cup frozen corn, thawed
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ cup sliced black olives
- 3 tablespoons pickled jalapeño slices
- 1 ½ cups reduced-fat shredded Mexican blend cheese
- 4 large plum tomatoes (about 12 ounces), chopped
- ½ cup chopped red onion
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
- ½ avocado, diced
Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray; spread chips evenly on sheet. In a bowl, combine beans, pepper, corn and cumin; spoon over chips. Top with olives, jalapeños and cheese; bake until cheese melts, 5 to 6 minutes. In same bowl, combine tomato, onion, cilantro and juice; gently mix in avocado. Serve nachos topped with salsa.
3. Healthy Sweet Potato Skins
Potato skins are usually a sinful snack, but this variety from Pinch of Yum makes them guilt-free. Sweet potatoes take the starring role, serving as a blank canvas for chickpeas, spinach, and even some melted cheese. If you simply can’t say no to bacon, consider offering some cooked, crumbled bacon on the side.
- 2 medium or large sweet potatoes
- 1 ½ tablespoons butter
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 bag fresh baby spinach
- ¼ cup light sour cream or Greek yogurt
- 2 ounces light cream cheese
- 1 cup chickpeas
- ¼ cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake sweet potatoes until tender, about 45 to 60 minutes. Let cool briefly, then cut in half.
In a skillet set over medium heat, melt the butter. Add shallots and cook until beginning to soften, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted, another 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh of each sweet potato half, being sure to leave enough that skins hold their shape. Add cream cheese and sour cream to potato flesh and mash. Stir in chickpeas and spinach. Season with salt and pepper, and mix to combine.
Drizzle a bit of oil over each skin, then bake for about 5 minutes to crisp. Add chickpea-sweet potato mixture to each skin, then top with mozzarella. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until heated through and cheese is melted and bubbling. Serve.
4. Baked Avocado Fries
If you’re going to indulge in fries, these crispy avocado fries from The Kitchn will do the trick. The prep work is simple, too, requiring just a handful of ingredients. Once you flour and bread your avocado slices, you’ll bake them for 20 to 25 minutes before serving them with your favorite sauce. These baked avocado fries are guaranteed to get eaten before the game even starts.
- 2 firm avocados
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ½ cups panko or regular breadcrumbs
- Cooking spray
Directions: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Prepare the ingredients for the breaded coating in three separate wide, shallow bowls. Whisk the flour, salt, and pepper in the first bowl, beat the eggs, and place the breadcrumbs in the third bowl. Arrange the bowls in an assembly line: flour mixture, eggs, then breadcrumbs. Place a baking sheet next to the bowl of breadcrumbs.
Use a chef’s knife to halve the avocados, cutting from the stem end to the base. Remove and discard the pits. Cut each half into 6 (½-inch-wide) slices, and remove and discard the skin.
Working with one avocado slice at a time, coat in flour, then egg, and finally breadcrumbs. Start with coating in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess. Dip the flour-coated avocado slice in egg, making sure the egg completely coats the slice. Roll the avocado slice in the breadcrumbs. Make sure it is fully covered and well coated.
Place the breaded avocado slice on the baking sheet. Repeat the process with all the slices, spacing them about 1-inch apart on the baking sheet.
Spray the avocado fries with cooking spray. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake until the fries are golden-brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven halfway through cooking and flip each avocado fry over with a flat spatula or tongs to ensure it cooks and browns evenly.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let cool 2 to 3 minutes before serving.
5. Warm Caramelized Onion Dip
This next dish on our list comes from Cooking Light, and while it’s not exactly the healthiest snack ever, it’s still a lighter version of its full-fat cousin. Simply cook the onions and thyme in a skillet until they’re golden brown, then add the sour cream, cheese, mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, and hot pepper sauce to the mix. We promise the end result is far tastier than anything you can find in the grocery store.
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 4 cups chopped onion
- ¾ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- ½ cup light sour cream
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ⅓ cup ⅓-less-fat cream cheese
- ⅓ cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- ¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Directions: Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, swirling to coat pan. Add chopped onion and thyme to pan; sauté 10 minutes or until golden brown. Reduce heat to low; cook 20 minutes or until onions are deep golden brown, stirring occasionally. Remove onion mixture from heat. Add sour cream and the remaining ingredients, stirring until blended and cheese melts. Serve.
6. Buffalo Wing Popcorn
You’re going to love this spicy caramel corn from Bon Appétit. You’ll coat your popcorn kernels in a mixture of homemade caramel, hot sauce, and butter, before baking for 15 to 20 minutes. This is the kind of snack that’s just as much fun to make as it is to eat. This will become a go-to for football games.
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- 8 cups popped plain popcorn
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¼ cup hot sauce
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Directions: Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly coat parchment and a large bowl with nonstick spray; add popcorn to bowl. Set baking sheet aside.
Bring sugar and ¼ cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil, swirling pan occasionally, until caramel is a deep amber color, 10 to 12 minutes.
Remove from heat; stir in hot sauce and butter (mixture will bubble vigorously). Return to a boil and cook another 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in salt, baking soda, and cayenne. Working quickly and carefully (caramel will be very hot), pour caramel mixture over popcorn and toss to coat.
Spread out popcorn on prepared baking sheet and bake, tossing once, until dry, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool.