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The FITNESS Guide to Healthy Tailgating

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How to Have a Healthy Tailgate Party

Baseball and apple pie are integral pieces of traditional Americana, but when it comes to sports, you won't find a more rabble-rousing group (excluding, perhaps, Red Sox devotees) than football fans. And why not? Whether it's college or pro season, everyone's got their allegiances. The proof is on their DVR or in the 20 bucks they sunk into the office Super Bowl pool.

But the best part? Tailgating.

You don't need to know a snap from a lateral, the difference between a running back and a tight end, or how a two-point conversion works. All you need to do is show up in the parking lot with a side dish or a six-pack and get ready for some hatch-backed grilling. Thankfully, FITNESS has got you covered with lighter grill fare and snacking options, so you won't feel the need to turn down a helping of nachos. And as for the beer? Surprise — it's actually (sort of) good for you.

Our Healthy Grilling Guide

Get ideas for healthy snacks here

The Health Benefits of Alcohol

Consider this tailgate party your official fitness kickoff. We'll be rooting for you!

Grilled Meat

All-in-One Grill Recipes: Steak, Chicken, and Scallops

Whatever meat you're craving, it's here — complete with handy print-out shopping list!

Get our healthy and easy barbecue recipes

Low-Fat Bacon Melt Sandwich

Bacon melts deserve their own touchdown dance. Seriously.

Low-Fat Chicken Strips

Forget fried chicken fingers. With this baked homemade version, you'll get the same crunch with less fat and more fiber.

Grilled Lamb and Bulgur Burgers

These Greek-inspired burgers have bulgur to bump up the fiber from your usual beef fare, and the cooling yogurt-dill sauce and cucumber ribbons balance out the black-pepper zip.

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Lean Lamb Kabobs with Mustard Glaze

A mustard and thyme marinade keeps the meat juicy on the grill.

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Quick Kabob Dips

Mix and match your flavors with these three dips.

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Smoked Spicy Chicken

Hickory or apple wood chips and ground New Mexico red chili pepper give your typical barbecued chicken a kick.

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Vegetarian/Side Dishes

Our 8 Best Salad Recipes

From barbecue chicken chop salad to arugula-fennel salad with pear vinaigrette, bring a little class to the party. (Or at least balance out the fact that you're drinking Natty Light.)

Get our best salad recipes here

Pasta Coleslaw

Skip mayo-heavy pasta salads with this lighter side dish.

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Sweet Potato Salad

Loaded with vitamins A and C, sweet potatoes give the classic side dish a healthy spin.

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Warm Tarragon Potato Salad

Pump up your new potatoes with snipped tarragon, chopped radishes, and Canadian bacon (no, really).

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Texas-Style Quesadilla

Loaded with veggies and cheese, this quesadilla will fill you up without the calories or post-meal coma of a steak.

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Low-Cal Drinks

Low-Calorie Summer Drink Recipes

Sangria, margaritas, and mojitos — oh my!

Get our low-calorie summer drink recipes

Spiked Pomegranate Lemonade

Antioxidant-rich pomegranate juice may lower your cholesterol and prevent certain types of cancer — and in this drink, it'll only pack 136 calories.

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Melon Margarita Ice

A twist on the classic margarita, whole fruit bumps up the vitamin count without pumping up the calories.

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Sun Tea

The alcohol-free alternative when you're done with the beer bong.

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Green Tea Mocktail

Boost your immune system and lower your cholesterol with this green tea (and alcohol-free) mocktail.

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Salty and Sweet Snacks


9 Salty Snacks Under 100 Calories

Bad case of the munchies? 9 travel-friendly picks to tame it.

Get our salty snack picks

Low-Fat Homemade Nachos

Cheesy, gooey nachos — but low-cal and low-fat. You're welcome.

Low-Fat 7-Layer Chip Dip

Chips and dip are the yin and yang of tailgating, and we're suckers for a cheesy, meaty dip to complement crisp veggies and baked chips.

Baked Jalapeno Cornsticks

Maple syrup gives it a sweet edge, while minced jalapeno gives it the traditional kick.

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Tofu Hummus

It's not just for vegans and the health-conscious set anymore. Tofu provides plenty of protein and gives a silky consistency to the hummus. Plus, you won't even taste the soy — promise!

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Toasted Pita Chips with Yogurt Mint Dip

As much as we love salsa and guac, this yogurt-mint sauce is especially refreshing on a hot day.

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Ultimate Snack Mix

A throwback to the classic Chex mix, this homemade version makes 6 cups — enough for everyone to get their own salt fix.

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Peanut Butter Cookies

For 125 calories, each cookie — made with natural peanut butter — is enough of a sweet fix to bring even the manliest of football fanatics to his knees.

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Fudge Thumbprints with Raspberry Filling

Chocolate and fruit in a cookie — what more could you ask for?

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Fudgy Bittersweet Brownies

A portable, easy-to-make, and everybody-likes-them kind of treat.

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Cherry-Oatmeal Squares

For the non-chocolate lovers.

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Originally published on, August 2008.