Football season is here and with it comes tailgating… and with that comes….. FOOD! Lot’s of delicious food, and likely drinks too (let’s be honest). Don’t get me wrong when I say I am giving you healthy tailgating recipes. I LOVE football season, fall, and everything that comes with it but I dislike that Monday morning feeling of, “well time to get back on track”.

 It is more than okay to indulge from time to time. Actually, I encourage it. However, if you are trying to shed a few (or not gain a few) or you are training for something, eating wings and buffalo chicken dip every weekend won’t get you far. Food should be delicious, but it can be delicious AND healthy.

Okay I will step off my soap box and give you a couple of tips and recipes to bring to your next tailgate so you can eat delicious food and feel good about it. I promise these recipes won’t disappoint. Just remember moderation is key in everything. If you have an unhealthy day, jump right back into healthy eating the next day and don’t worry about it! Life is too hard and there are way bigger things going on to beat yourself up about it. Have fun, relax, CALL THE HOGS, and try to make good food choices no matter what situation you are in!

Tips for tailgating:
1.   Always go with the veggies and fruit first (if you can find any!) and limit the dipping sauce.
2.   Look for the baked foods instead of fried and remember anything loaded with cheese or sour cream is going to be loaded with calories.
3.   If you are going to eat the items that are less healthy, limit the PORTION. This is so important! Have 2-3 wings, not 7-8 wings and 2 tablespoons of cheese dip not 1/2 a cup. (Ya feel me?!)
4.   Never go to a tailgate starving. You know when you go to the grocery when you are hungry, ditto that for a tailgate. (Yikes, watch out!) 

*Disclaimer: The cauliflower buffalo bites in no way replace buffalo wings in my heart but they definitely give you that wing flavor with waaaaaaaay less calories and fat!

Greek Layer Dip

A healthy Greek version of Mexican 7 layer dip made with hummus, Greek yogurt, cucumbers, tomato, and feta. Serve with pita chips for an appetizer or snack. You could also add black beans, sub mexican or jack cheeses, and mix some cumin and chili powder or salsa into the hummus to make a more traditional layer dip.

  • 1, 10-ounce container of hummus, your favorite flavor (I used roasted garlic)
  • 1/2 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
    1. Spread the hummus in a smooth layer in the bottom of an 8×8-inch square baking dish, a shallow pie dish, or similar serving dish. Dollop the Greek yogurt by small spoonfuls over the top, then gently spread to create a new layer.
    2. Scatter the tomato, cucumber, feta, and olives over the top. Sprinkle with fresh parsley. Refrigerate until ready to serve, then dip with pita chips, crackers, and sliced veggies as desired.Pita chips, carrots, broccoli, sliced bell peppers, or crackers, for serving.

Bell Pepper Nacho Boats


  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 3/4 cup salsa
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 3 bell peppers

1.Remove seeds, core, and membrane from bell peppers then slice each one into 6 verticle pieces where they dip down. Set sliced bell peppers aside.

2. Cook ground turkey over medium-high heat, breaking up as it cooks. Cook until the turkey loses it’s pink color and is cooked through. Drain off any fat.
3.Combine cooked turkey with spices and salsa. Evenly distribute mixture into the bell pepper boats, top with cheese. Bake @ 375 on a parchment lined baking sheet for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and peppers are hot.

NOTE: If you prefer much softer bell peppers, add a few tablespoons water to the bottom of a large casserole dish, add filled nachos, cover tightly with foil and bake 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and add additional toppings, If desired.

Optional ingredients: sliced Jalepeno peppers, diced avocado, Greek yogurt or sour cream, or sliced green onions.

Cauliflower Buffalo Bites

  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
  • Olive oil to drizzle
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter or coconut oil
  • ½ to *3/4 cup  Wing Style hot sauce or other hot wing sauce of choice
  • Other: 1 gallon or larger size plastic bag
  1. Preheat oven to 450F degrees.
  2. Place cauliflower florets into plastic bag. Drizzle olive oil over florets to barely coat.
  3. Add garlic powder, salt and pepper. Close bag and toss ingredients around so all florets are coated.
  4. Place on ungreased cookie sheet or baking pan and bake on middle rack for 15 minutes, turning florets once during baking. Check them at the 10 minute mark for desired tenderness. You don’t want them to be soggy!
  5. Remove florets from oven. Melt butter in medium glass bowl. Add hot sauce to butter. Toss cauliflower and stir to cover all florets with hot sauce. Start with about half the sauce and add more to your taste.
  6. Return to oven and cook for additional 5 minutes.
  7. Serve with any dip you like

Enjoy! and GO HOGS… or whatever 🙂
Joanna Gregg, MS, RD