I love to eat and I love football. Put the two together and you have reached fan Nirvana for some. The only problem is that most tailgating foods are high fat, high calorie and almost completely devoid of vegetables. I love a chili cheese dog or a Frito pie like the rest of you but, as I get older, I’m trying to eat with good health in mind without giving up on flavor.

Healthy Choices

We can all make better choices when we eat. Turkey instead of ground beef in your chili, low fat cheese, and baked chips instead of French fries are all good places to start - but why not go a bit farther? How about trying avocado hummus, salsa black bean burgers, or even sweet potato skins? If you can’t go completely vegetarian, then consider lightening up some classics. Transform the lowly hot dog into a Banh Mi Hot Dog using all natural beef or turkey franks and pickled vegetables.

Diehard Fans

iCookTailgaters are a different breed. They want to share the comradery of the sports fan with, well other sports fans. They also tend to be somewhat competitive especially about their food as well as their favorite team. For the diehard hamburger and hotdog lovers, many of these recipes may not excite you. But from a foodie point of view, I would be ecstatic to find any of these tasty combinations at my next sporting event or pot luck for that matter. 

Enjoy the game and the tailgating experiences, and try out these recipes – Perhaps they’ll help you make some healthy choices about the food. Live, Laugh, Love and Eat Well my fellow sports fans!

Avocado Hummus

Recipe by Devon O’Brien


This recipe only takes a few ingredients and can be prepared in a food processor. It’s great as a dip with veggie or pita chips, crudités or as the base for an heirloom tomato salad.

  • 1 – 15oz can of no salt added chickpeas
  • 1 ripe avocado, halved and pitted
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp salt

Drain the chickpeas, reserving about 2 TBSP of the liquid. Transfer the chickpeas and the reserved liquid to a food processor and add the remaining ingredients. Puree until very smooth.

Salsa-Black Bean Burgers

Recipe by: Carolyn Casner

  • iCook½ cup prepared salsa (use chunky at a heat you are comfortable with)
  • 2 – 15oz cans low sodium black beans, rinsed
  • 1 cup well crushed tortilla chips
  • ½ cup grated white onion
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 3 TBSP mayonnaise
  • 4 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 3 TBSP avocado oil or canola oil, divided
  • 8 whole-grain burger buns, toasted
  • ½ cup prepared guacamole
  • 8 slices of tomato
  • 1 cup alfalfa or bean sprouts
  • ½ cup thinly sliced red onion

Place the salsa in a fine-mesh sieve and stir to remove excess moisture. Mash the beans with a potato masher in a large bowl until no whole ones remain. Stir in the drained salsa, tortilla chips, grated onion, egg, mayonnaise, chili powder, cumin and salt. Let stand for 10 minutes. Form the bean mixture into 8 burgers about 3 inches wide (about 1/3 cup each).

Heat 1 ½ TBSP oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Then reduce the heat to medium, add 4 burgers at a time and cook until browned and heated through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining oil and burgers. Serve the burgers on a bun with guacamole, tomato slice, sprouts and red onion.

Note: Individually wrapped cooked burgers can be refrigerated up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Microwave to reheat.

Sweet Potato Skins with Guacamole

Recipe by: Devon O’Brien


  • 4 small sweet potatoes
  • 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 TBSP fresh lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • ¼ cup chopped tomato
  • 2 TBSP minced red onion
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 F. Tightly wrap the sweet potatoes in foil and place on a baking sheet. Roast until very tender, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Carefully unwrap potatoes and set aside to cool.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the cooled potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh (save the flesh for another use like mashed sweet potatoes), leaving a ¼ inch border. Place the sweet potato halves skin side up on the parchment paper and brush with oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes at 400 F until browned and crisp.

Remove skins from oven and cut in half widthwise and return to baking sheet, skin side down. Sprinkle each with 1 TBSP of cheddar cheese and return to oven. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Make the guacamole: Halve the avocado and remove the pit. Scoop out the flesh into a bowl and mash it up. Stir in the lime juice, garlic and salt.

Top each sweet potato skin with guacamole, tomato, onion, and cilantro if desired.

Banh Mi Hot Dog

By Cooking Light

  • iCook2 large carrots
  • ½ cup sliced red onion
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 8 all beef or turkey hot dogs
  • Cooking spray
  • 8 whole wheat hot dog buns
  • 4 TBSP mayonnaise
  • 24 fresh jalapeno slices
  • 8 tsp cilantro leaves

Shave the carrots into ribbons with a vegetable peeler. Combine the carrots, onion, vinegar, water and sugar in a medium bowl; let stand for 15 minutes. Drain and discard pickling brine.

Preheat grill to medium high heat. Coat the grill rack with cooking spray and grill the hotdogs about 6 to 10 minutes, turning occasionally.

Spread each hotdog bun with about 1 ½ tsp mayonnaise. Place 1 dog on each bun; top evenly with carrot ribbons and onion. Garnish with 3 fresh jalapeno slices and cilantro leaves.

You can download the recipes of the week HERE!