Smart Snack Plays for Game Day

Score big with nachos, wings and other football favorites that won’t pack on extra fat and calories.


Nacho know-how

Crunchy, gooey, cheesy and spicy. What’s not to love about nachos? This tasty snack might be a traditional game day favorite, but the fat and calorie count is worthy of a penalty: up to 346 calories and 19 grams of fat in one serving. And here’s the real kicker: a serving is defined as six to eight nachos (we could probably eat that many before the kickoff).

There are many ways to Healthify traditional nachos, though:

  • Food Should Taste Good tortilla chips, with 18 gluten-free, cholesterol-free and zero-trans-fat varieties that incorporate ingredients like quinoa, flaxseed and sesame seeds, make a perfect nacho base – and a tastier, less greasy alternative to the usual corn chips. Start with a milder flavor like Blue Corn, Yellow Corn, Sesame, Cantina (which has a nice lime taste) or Multigrain to showcase flavorful toppings. Experiment with new flavor combinations and spice levels by starting with Jalapeño, Kimchi or Olive Food Should Taste Good chips (or if you’re extra adventurous, Chocolate).
  • Try brushing plain chips with a mixture of lime juice and cumin or chili powder before you pile on toppings and bake to add even more flavor without extra calories.
  • Cheese is the quickest way to up the fat and calorie count of your nachos, so use reduced-fat versions of classics like cheddar or Monterey Jack, or try queso fresco, a fresh, tangy Mexican cheese that generally has less fat and sodium than aged cheeses. Queso fresco doesn’t melt the same way as conventional cheeses, so try it out for texture first. No matter what cheese you choose, remember to keep portions in check!
  • Omit the meat altogether, or use cooked chicken or turkey rather than ground beef. Crumbled tempeh sautéed or baked with a lower-sodium spicy sauce is a great meat alternative. Or opt for beans as a protein, which will also add fiber to the mix.
  • Add flavor and color with veggies and herbs: tomatoes, bell peppers, corn, sliced jalapenos, cilantro, sliced red onion, scallions, avocado and fresh limes for squeezing.
  • Choose condiments that aren’t full of salt and fat: pico de gallo, salsa (try this fruity spin) and/or hot sauce, plus reduced-fat plain yogurt in place of sour cream.
  • Rethink nachos altogether: We like these fun alternative recipes featuring apples and quinoa.

Take a dip

There are many alternatives to the standard dip-and-chip setup at most game day parties. (Whew, that’s a relief, since just two dozen potato chips and two tablespoons of traditional French onion dip can add up to 210 calories and nearly 12 grams of fat.) Mix up the platter by adding jicama, radishes, raw snow peas and bell pepper strips as dippers, and consider doubling the veggie power with Gluten Free Creamy Kale Dip with Veggie Dippers. Or go for some bean-powered protein with Red Pepper Hummus, Roasted Garlic Bean Dip or Smoky Spinach Hummus.

Wing it

It only takes three standard-recipe buffalo-style chicken wings to get you to almost 180 calories and 11 grams of fat. Skip the fried variety and opt for Baked Buffalo Wings or Caribbean Chicken Drummies instead.

Don’t do delivery

Handing culinary duties over to the local pizza place won’t lighten your calorie load on game day: Delivery pizza can net you around 285 calories and 10 g fat per slice. Making your own Healthified Homemade Pizza will allow you to control the ingredients and make better toppings choices.

Check out even more better-for-you game day goodies, from dips and apps to sliders and sweets.