Healthy tailgating recipes without sacrificing taste

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Football season is in full swing and if you're a true fan of the game, you know Texas is king when it comes to tailgating. But if you're watching your waistline during game day, there are options out there to help win the war on weight gain.

The Texans and the Cougars are giving fans a lot of reasons to fire up the grill, but for those counting calories, is there a way to tailgate without sacrificing taste? We took our question straight to an expert.

"You can eat more if you're eating the right foods," said nutritionist, Carol Lapin.

Lapin said a few tweaks to your tailgate menu could help you fight that battle of the bulge.

Chips and queso are a staple at almost every tailgate, but just one serving can run over 700 calories. Keep dipping and eating and that calorie count quickly multiplies, unless you decide to try an alternative.

"Try pistachio hummus using northern beans. We do garlic in there. Also add some hot pepper. Then you can make your own chips," said Lapin.
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Just cut up whole grain pita, spray with extra virgin olive oil and bake at 350 degrees for a few minutes until they're toasted. The calorie count per serving comes in around 250.

Speaking of chips, Lapin's Avocado Tuna Dip is simple to whip up and you can use canned tuna.

"Mix it with a little lemon juice, garlic and wonderful avocado," said Lapin.

You can also add some spices and then chill the entire mixture for a delectable dish. Lapin's Avocado Tuna Dip is only 90 calories per serving and you can also eat it with your homemade pita chips.

However, if you want to avoid chips altogether, Lapin has a simple substitute.

"People love pistachio nuts. I do call them the skinny nut because you can have 30 for 100 calories," said Lapin.

Now who doesn't like a good bowl of chili? It's not too bad coming it at 250 calories, but the sodium in the fatty ground beef will leave you feeling bloated the next day. Lapin's solution? Try meatless chili which is about 125 calories per serving and very versatile.

"You can use it in a dip, a wrap, or a bowl," said Lapin.

Most people want a big juicy burger to complete their tailgate experience. If you stack your burger with all the trimmings, you're looking at 700 calories or more. But instead of tempting yourself with beef, Labin recommends grilling a portobello mushroom for the same meat like texture.

"They're meaty, without being a meat," said Lapin. "Make sure when you cook it, that the juices run through it, and that it's tender."

Serve your portobello burger on a whole wheat bun with reduced fat cheese and stack it with veggies for a beautiful burger that is less than half the calories of a traditional one.

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