4 Ways to Tailgate to Health

April may bring showers, but it also brings the smell of charcoal grills and tailgating for the boys (and girls) of summer. This baseball season, be sure to balance your kids’ favorite tailgate classics with some healthy options.

Explore new options. Your local grocery story has lots of tailgating alternatives to plain hamburgers, brats and hot dogs. Try introducing your kids to turkey or chicken brats. Or, scour your freezer section for great meat alternatives like black bean burgers. I personally enjoy the Gardenburger® Black Bean Chipotle Veggie Burger. Even hot dogs have gone healthier. Now, there are many brands with less fat and fewer calories than the dogs we grew up with. If you do choose hamburger, make sure you choose a leaner variety. 

Be sure you pair your meat with a bun that contains at least 3 grams of fiber. I like to use Healthy Life® Original Wheat Sandwich Buns. They have more fiber, fewer calories and can be cheaper than other buns.

Don’t skimp on the sides. While your meats are sizzling on the grill, offer your guests fiber-packed fruits and veggies with dip. In need of a healthy potato salad? Try Chef Wayne’s spicy summer potato salad. Chef Wayne’s healthy baked beans also is a great way to fill up on fiber. Chips can add a nice crunch, but look for baked chips or offer corn chips with salsa. Whole-wheat crackers with hummus can also be a hit, even a home run!

Watch out for liquid calories. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s NEW (Nutrition, Exercise and Weight Management) Kids™ Program recommends water instead of sweetened beverages. Because kids get dehydrated in the hot summer sun even faster than adults, water always is the best option. If your kids want something with more flavor, choose beverages that have 3 grams or less of sugar per serving.

Practice portion control. Watching the game isn’t as much fun with an overly full belly. Make sure your kids fill up on fruits and veggies while going easy on the meats, cheeses and crackers. Peanuts and popcorn are ballpark favorites, but watch the portions. Eating a whole bag of peanuts and popcorn simply is too much for anyone, especially kids.

Now, let’s play ball. Go Brewers!

~ Heather Fortin, RD, CSP, CD, is a dietitian at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Wayne Roe is the executive chef and manager of Nutrition Services at Children’s Hospital.

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