Does Celery Count As Healthy Tailgating?

by Christina Meyer-Jax, Tastemaker in Residence


As a dietitian and nutritionist I often feel like the “food” equivalent to pastor or a priest.  Once people know what I do for a living, they attempt to be on their best “eating” behavior.  Recently we were invited to tailgate at a Minnesota Vikings game by some friends of my parents.  We arrived to a spread of food and drinks that would put a cruise line buffet to shame.  Ribs, brats, hot dogs, sausages, hamburgers, grilled shrimp, smoked salmon, cheese trays, chips, dips, chocolate cake, cookies, and that was just on table #1!

The feeding frenzy was in full force with 2 hours until game time. One of the hosts came up to me at the Bloody Mary Bar, “So I heard you were a nutritionist, thought we’d health it up and have some celery. That counts, right?”

Putting together the words “Healthy Tailgating”, is a bit of an oxymoron.  The whole experience is around grillin’ and chillin’.  Can we keep fun and flavor while adding “healthified” menu items?  Heck ya!  Here are some game day winners that go beyond celery stalks for the cocktails:

Black Bean Guacamole Dip

Make your favorite guacamole dip, but sub half the avocado with black beans and spicy salsa.  You now have a higher protein and fiber version of an already great game day dip. Pair it with Way Better Snack chips, for all the flavor and the health benefits of sprouted grains and seeds.

Walking Salads

With yard games like corn hole and rodeo golf, it’s important to have portable snacks.  Create greek, caprese, and southwestern salads layered in clear cups.  Having them ready to grab, will help them be the go-to item.

Raising the Taco Bar

No need to give up tacos.  Set up a stack of whole corn tortillas and let your guests choose from:

  • Grass-fed beef strips sautéed with mushrooms, bell peppers, and onions
  • Grilled white fish with pineapple, red onion, and cilantro salsa
  • Portobello mushroom caps dusted with taco seasoning and drizzled with cilantro-lime glaze
  • Tomatillo salsa pork with pickled carrots, red cabbage, and sliced radishes
  • Grilled chicken with kimchi and corn

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites with Ranch Dressing

Buffalo sauce makes everything taste great!  This recipe from Nutrition Stripped will inspire even the most skeptical that cauliflower can rock!