Ask Keri: Is there such a thing as “healthy bar food?”
Keri Says: Healthy bar food may not be a phrase you hear uttered very often, but it’s definitely real. And there are simple ways to make better choices, whether you’re watching the game at your favorite local pub or are making football-friendly eats at home.
I mean, for a lot of us, football isn’t about being a die-hard fan, it’s about enjoying the experience of the sport and the eating that goes with it. I couldn’t name the (entire) offensive line on the Patriots, but who isn’t a fan of spending Sunday on the couch in PJs with a pot of simmering chili on the stove?
Or a pre-game tailgate that involves tossing a Frisbee while grilling up some burgers? Or spending several hours at the sports bar with a pint and a pile of nachos?
I want you to indulge and have fun when you want to, but I also don’t want eater’s remorse to kick in before the end of the first quarter. So, I’m here to help you out with a healthy eating plan for game day (or on any other occasion that means you find yourself in a pub or around people craving hearty finger food).
Healthy bar food is all about food that comes in small bites and is easy to share. Try these healthier approaches for a guaranteed win.
The Best Healthy Bar Food Choices for Game (or any) Day
Satay are little skewers of deliciousness, and I’m not even that picky about what’s on ‘em. Chicken, beef, shrimp and pork all simply grilled will help you stay on track. Skip the peanut sauce if you can—done right, there’s enough flavor in these bad boys to satisfy you. You get bonus points if you aren’t ashamed to eat the shredded cabbage they’re sitting on.
Did someone say meatball? Meatballs can be the perfect football-watching food because they just get better the longer they hang out in the marinara, and they’re a great vehicle for vegetables and seasoning. Adding tons of garlic, zucchini, pesto, or ginger can boost both flavor and nutrition. Touchdown if you use grass-fed beef or organic chicken.
Fresh Spring Rolls
For some reason, Vietnamese Spring Rolls often end up next to Buffalo wings and cheese fries on menus. I don’t really care whether or not they’re legit pub fare, but I do know they’re light and packed with veggies. (I’m obviously talking about the fresh, not fried ones.)
Popcorn and Peanuts
Just want some healthy snacks that are much easier to make than a 50-yard field goal? I say yes to popcorn. Popped in coconut oil with a little sea salt is best, but if you can get a bowl at the bar and it’s not totally soaked in oil or butter, it’s probably a better choice than the nachos or fries you’d otherwise go for. Peanuts are also an old school bar snack I love. They’re a whole food and take time to crack open, which slows you down and helps you register feeling satisfied earlier.
Finally, if you can get a dish of salsa and a dish of guac, that’s a good play. Absolutely have a few tortilla chips but ask for a big side of carrots and celery (like the kind they serve with the wings) and use those for dipping, too. If you’re home, you can also make these healthier dips that go beyond hummus and guac (in terms of both nutrition and flavor).
Then, the only thing left to do is cheers to a good game (and healthy eats).