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AICR HealthTalk

Karen Collins, MS, RDN, CDN, FAND
American Institute for Cancer Research

Q: What do you suggest for healthy choices when tailgating?

A: There are many delicious options for tailgate parties that promote good health by providing plenty of plant foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans and limiting high calorie foods. If you grill, choose chicken; include some vegetable kebabs, too, for a delicious way to add vegetables. If you like make-ahead dishes, chili, sloppy joes, lasagna, and enchilada casserole can all be lean and healthy when prepared with lots of vegetables and beans. Try them with lean ground turkey if you don’t want to make them vegetarian; if the dish includes cheese, limit the amount and use reduced-fat options.

For options that let you do the prep work in advance, stir-fry some vegetables and chicken, and let people create their own fajitas by rolling them up in whole-wheat tortillas, with or without some reduced-fat cheese. If your tailgates tend toward sandwiches and subs, make them lean with fresh meat like turkey or a little lean roast beef and load them with vegetables. Cut the sandwiches into small sections to make portion control easier for people, and make some with whole-grain bread and rolls.

Since it’s easy to nosh through more chips than intended, provide a range of vegetables instead; add some whole-wheat pita bread wedges and hummus if you want. Grapes and melon chunks on skewers or toothpicks make a healthy way to finish off the tailgate with a sweet note. Since drinks can add so many unwanted calories, make sure to offer one or more calorie-free selections, like water (plain, sparkling water, or infused with a little fruit or cucumber and basil) and tea (iced, plain or hot chai-flavored tea).

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed over $105 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRF).

Published on 10/12/2015

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