30+ Healthier Big Game Recipes to Try
| 8 min read
Pizza, chips and dip and chicken wings are the top food choices for many Americans as they prepare for the big game. According to the National Chicken Council, about 1.42 billion chicken wings are consumed during the upcoming big game weekend. While it’s OK to enjoy these foods, it’s a good idea to offer plant-forward and less energy-dense options, as well. It makes eating healthy an easier and encourages guests to choose balance on their plate.
Healthier options for game day hosts go beyond the appetizers. Presenting water, sparkling water and low-sugar mocktails alongside the alcoholic and sweet beverages is a good idea to encourage balance. Guests will be reminded to hydrate throughout the evening and may just feel better the next day.
Not sure where to start on the appetizers, dips or drinks? We’ve got you covered with these nutrient-rich options, many of which are plant-forward, packed with antioxidants and high in protein:
These bite-sized peppers are the perfect party appetizer. They’re vibrant in color, thanks to the mini bell peppers and rich in protein from their goat cheese and Greek yogurt filling. Searing garlic and green onion in olive oil add a depth of flavor to the dish.
This twist on a traditional pizza starts with a cream cheese base, topped with chicken, mozzarella, pineapple, Roma tomatoes, green onions and hot sauce.
Pizza rolls are a family-favorite, grabbing the attention of kids in the frozen aisle. Full of preservatives, refined carbohydrates and unhealthy fats, pizza rolls aren’t known for their health benefits. Try this healthier version, using wonton wrappers as the pizza roll vessel.
This puff pastry tart is a savory and delicious appetizer. A crispy puff pastry base topped with a creamy spread as the vehicle for spring produce like chives and arugula.
This individual serving-take on the popular charcuterie board will be a portable fan favorite around the tailgate. Load a mason jar, plastic cup or low glass with a mix of healthy and indulgent ingredients. For an attractive product, consider using food items in different heights and a variety of colors. And to flaunt your team spirit, add a ribbon of your team colors around the rim.
These mozzarella sticks are tossed in flour, covered with beaten egg and then drenched with an Italian herb-seasoned parmesan cheese panko breading. Rather than the traditional deep-frying, these are lightly coated in olive oil then baked until crispy.
Tender and juicy chicken thighs are marinated in a zesty buffalo sauce and paired with a refreshing and crunchy jicama cole slaw.
Many wing sauces are loaded with butter and sugar; frying the wings in oil doesn’t help the calorie count. But wings aren’t limited to the fryer – they’re great on the grill with the right marinade or dry rub. Try one of these simple fan-favorite recipes for healthy grilled wings.
The Nashville hot chicken sandwich is all the rage, and for good reason – it’s delicious. In this air fryer hot chicken sandwich recipe, air frying the buttermilk-marinated chicken gives it a healthier twist.
This donut-shaped snack packs in both flavor and health value. This easy-to-make recipe takes under 15 minutes: simply slice the apples, core them, and then drizzle and add toppings.
These crunchy, sweet and savory delights offer healthy fats from the avocado and protein from the shrimp – adding a satisfying element. The shrimp are marinated in a honey-and-soy sauce mixture with generous fresh garlic and then cooked on the stovetop. Placed on a cucumber slice topped with guacamole, it’s a perfect bite of varying textures.
If you’re a fan of eggplant parmesan and pizza – you’ve come to the right place. Bite-sized and colorful, these eggplant parmesan bites make for an excellent appetizer or side dish.
Impress your dinner guests with this easy sweet twist to traditional bruschetta. It’s the perfect way to make the most of the last of summer’s produce.
This recipe features a tangy orange glaze that’s lower in sugar than most. Enjoy this recipe topped with green onions and sesame seeds — no dipping sauce needed.
Skewers are an easy crowd-pleaser– convenient to grab and eat. These bites offer a balanced combination of sweet and savory with a hint of pepper from arugula. Easy to make, simply skewer on the ingredients and drizzle the balsamic reduction for a beautiful contrast.
This colorful appetizer is full of flavor and nutrients. The creamy and light ricotta is contrasted with flavor-bursting roasted cherry tomatoes and herbs. This dish comes together in 30 minutes or less and requires no complicated tools or ingredients.
These green beans are bursting with flavor and have the perfect level of crunch. In this recipe, the green beans are seared first to ensure the other ingredients don’t burn. They’re then combined with Thai flavors like refreshing lemongrass and ginger alongside a spicy sambal oelek – an Indonesian chili paste – or spicy garlic sauce. Sesame oil, which is sensitive to heat, is added at the end for a smooth flavor. The red of the sambal oelek and sesame seeds makes this an eye-catching dish.
Cucumber and mint are summer staples that add freshness to any dish. This refreshing salad can be served as an appetizer or alongside grilled meats and vegetables.
This frozen combination of minimally processed ingredients mimics the flavor and texture of popular candy bars. Hazelnuts and cashew butter provide healthy fats, while dark chocolate brings a slew of antioxidants to the table.
This dip is inspired by Mediterranean cuisine and blends bold flavors with creamy textures. The combination of feta cheese's richness and Greek yogurt's tanginess creates a smooth and protein-packed treat. Fresh herbs like chives and thyme enhance the dip's aroma and color. Serve it with colorful vegetable dippers like carrot sticks, cucumber slices, and bell pepper strips to make it visually appealing as it is delicious.
Often, nacho cheese sauces are heavily processed with stabilizers and preservatives to maintain their smooth texture for dipping and drizzling. This recipe features a cottage cheese-based cheese sauce that packs in filling protein and gut-healthy probiotics while reducing the overall saturated fat of the dish. The nachos are topped with an array of veggies and herb for a flavor punch.
Hummus is a protein and fiber-rich chickpea spread that’s tasty year-round, but it’s especially delicious when served with summer in-season vegetables. In this recipe, hummus gets topped with a vinaigrette-tossed vegetable medley.
Buffalo chicken dip is a beloved party and tailgating staple. A recipe full of cream cheese and other cheeses isn’t exactly heart healthy. This recipe incorporates buffalo flavors into a hummus with healthier fats like olive oil and tahini.
Toum is a Lebanese garlic sauce with a creamy, fluffy consistency that’s a perfect addition to grilled meats and veggies alike. It comes together in under 10 minutes and is made with just a handful of ingredients, including garlic, oil, lemon juice and salt.
This flavorful dip is made with ripe tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lime juice, and a bit of heat from jalapeños, creating a perfect taste of summer as it nears its end. Not only is salsa delicious, but it's also a nutritious powerhouse, filled with vitamins and antioxidants from the fresh ingredients. It's a low-calorie option that pairs perfectly with whole-grain baked tortilla chips.
This sizzling garlic and spring herb yogurt dip is a great protein- and nutrient-packed snack or party appetizer. Delicious and easy to make, the dip comes together in less than 10 minutes and can be served with your favorite dippers like fresh-cut veggies, crackers and toasted bread.
Hummus is a heart-healthy dip staple in many households. In this recipe, canned beets kick the heart health value up a notch with a dose of fiber, antioxidants and potassium.
The fall-spiced Greek yogurt provides a creamy source of protein, while the crisp apples add a fantastic source of fiber and contrast.
This lower-sugar spin on a spicy margarita uses blood orange to provide mouthfeel elements similar to tequila.
This spicy tropical drink offers a balance of sweet and spicy with a kick of acid. Because pineapple juice is naturally sweet, add honey as needed to suit your sweetness preference.
The natural sweetness of the strawberries combined with the tangy lime juice and fresh mint creates a delightful and unique flavor that is both refreshing and satisfying.
This sangria-inspired antioxidant-packed drink is a great way to enjoy the flavors of the classic drink, sans the alcohol
This refreshing drink is perfect for those who want to enjoy the flavors of a mimosa without the alcohol content. It’s simply made with fresh juice and sparkling water or soda, giving it a light and bubbly texture.
For healthy recipes, use your Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant-enabled devices, with MIBlue (pronounced “My Blue”) from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
Shanthi Appelö is a registered dietitian and the health and wellness spokesperson at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.