8 Healthy(ish) Game Day Snacks

7 healthy(ish) game day snacks

You’re fired up to watch the big game. You full-on tackle the couch. Of course, you can’t kick off the viewing party without snacks. But man cannot live on chips and beer alone, so if you want to avoid the bloat and hangover, take it easy on the refined carbs and saturated fats. The better game plan: Get some lean protein, healthy fats, and colorful veggies in the mix. Because you know what they say—winners always eat their vegetables. Here are seven super easy and incredibly delicious ways to put a little more nutrition in your game day snacks.

1. Popcorn Crunch

Craving something crunchy? Popcorn is a better choice than chips, because it’s a whole grain—you just have to resist drenching it in butter and salt. Start with plain, freshly popped corn, which you make in the microwave or over the stove. Then drizzle lightly with extra-virgin olive oil, sprinkle with shredded parmesan cheese, and season lightly with salt and generously with freshly ground black pepper, for a savory edge.

2. Ultra Fresh Dips

Say adiós to queso, which is an oozing gut bomb. It’s so easy to freshen up your dips if you focus on cleaner ingredients. Get plant protein with a black bean dip, healthy fats with a luscious guacamole, or go classic and creamy with yogurt ranch. Again, skip the chips, and serve with fresh veggies for dunking, like carrots, sugar snaps, and baby bell peppers.

3. Sweet Potato Fries

Chili fries might be a nutritionist’s nightmare, but sweet potato fries are so easy and healthy to bake at home. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Peel and cut 1 or 2 sweet potatoes about ¼ inch (6 mm) thick, and pile the pieces on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and toss to coat. Spread out the pieces on the baking sheet (try to avoid crowding). Roast until golden and crispy, about 30 minutes. Serve warm with a yogurt ranch sauce for dipping, or trick them out like chili fries, but with beans and fresh herbs.

4. Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

Forget the greasy fried chicken. Cauliflower is hot right now, and it’s extra finger-lickin’ good when you roll it around in a spicy sauce. Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). Pile cauliflower florets on a large rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Roast until tender, about 20 minutes. Drizzle generously with hot sauce, toss to coat, and serve warm with celery sticks and yogurt dressing for dunking.

5. Southwestern Turkey Sliders

Instead of marbled red meat, make mini burgers out of lean turkey. Adding shredded zucchini isn’t some sneaky trick, it makes every bite seriously juicy. Shred zucchini, place it in a colander, and squeeze to remove excess moisture. Gently mix together 1 cup (5 oz/155 g) shredded zucchini and 1 lb (500 g) ground turkey, season with salt and pepper, and shape into patties. In a skillet over medium-high heat, warm a drizzle of olive oil, and cook until no longer pink at the center. Place between whole-wheat buns, and for a cowboy kick, top with pepper jack cheese, sliced avocado, and salsa fresca.

6. Plant-Powered Chili

Bison chili is leaner than your usual beef stew, so it’s a smart swap. But the benefits are even better if you can pump up the plant protein by replacing half or all of the red meat with beans and loading ’er up with colorful vegetables. Add more veggies to the base by sautéing chopped celery, carrot, and bell pepper with the onion. Or jam more veggies—like bite-size sweet potato or a big handful of torn kale leaves—into the simmering stew.

7. Mean Green Pizza

Takeout pizza can be overloaded with processed meats and salty cheese, but doing it yourself can be a much healthier way to spin a pie. And making pizza at home is fun and foolproof when you pick up a ball of fresh dough from the deli case—extra points if it’s whole wheat. Top with marinara, part-skim mozzarella, and lots of colorful veggies, like sweet peppersmushrooms, or yes, even broccoli.

8. Sweet Treats

When the game goes into overtime, you’ll be cheering for something sweet. If you’re into baking, try healthy twists on favorite desserts, like beet cupcakes or zucchini brownies. Even if you’re short on time, don’t resort to stale grocery store cookies! It’s super easy to dip fresh fruit, like strawberries, orange segments, or sliced banana, in dark chocolate.

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