Every year the arrival of Fall brings with it what I love best about the season: Football. And whether you are partial to college or pro, one of the most fun parts of going to football games is tailgating.
Something else we can all agree on? Tailgating is not the most gluten-free activity out there.
But have no fear! We’ve gathered some of our favorite healthy, gluten-free snack ideas that you can bring with you to tailgates, as well as some tips and tricks to help you out. Don’t worry, we didn’t forget beer!
Nuts are the perfect option for a tasty tailgating snack. Not only do they pack a powerful punch of protein, fiber and healthy fats, they also can lower cholesterol and promote a healthy heart! Our favorite part about nuts is how much variety is out there, and that they can be spiced up, made savory or sweet, and added to salads for some crunch. I always like to bring bags of spiced nut mixes but have trouble finding ones that are certified gluten-free. Nuts.com provides gluten-free packaged, seasoned nuts that are great for healthy tailgating – our favorites are the Sesame Teriyaki Almonds & Cashews and the Sweet & Spicy Chipotle Pistachios. They’ve also got tons of other healthy options on their gluten-free snacks page!
2. Healthy Chips & Dips
Instead of grabbing a bag of salty, oily potato chips, try a healthier option like mixed veggie chips or sweet potato chips. Raw veggies like carrots and celery also provide a healthy crunch for dipping. When it comes to dips, staying on the healthy side means avoiding queso and heavy onion and ranch dips. Bean dips are a great alternative and excellent source of fiber and antioxidants. Throw some beans in the mixer with Greek yogurt, add healthy chopped veggies like peppers, onions and tomatoes and you’ve got a super tasty dip! Homemade salsa and guacamole are also great gluten-free dip ideas.
3. Grilled Veggies & Salads
Just because it’s a tailgate doesn’t mean that vegetables and salads aren’t allowed! Prepare vegetable skewers beforehand with peppers, onions, cherry tomatoes and zucchini and throw them on the (cleaned, gluten-free) grill! Make a big chopped salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, feta cheese and sunflower seeds. Tried and true tailgate salads like coleslaw and potato salad can be easily made gluten-free as well.
Okay, so our fourth item isn’t exactly a healthy tailgating snack. But what would tailgating be without beer?! When I was first diagnosed with celiac there weren’t a lot of gluten-free beer options out there, but lately I’m finding more and more that I love. For me, tailgating is all about coolers full of beer cans, and my favorite gluten-free cans are Glutenberg IPA and New Planet Tread Lightly Ale. Other favorite gluten-free beer brands I love are Omission and Green. Hard cider also provides a crisp, Fall-worthy option for tailgate drinking, and many are gluten-free.
Tips for Gluten-Free Tailgating
When preparing your tailgating snacks, it’s important to think portable. Whether you make your snacks in advance or bring snacks that you can prepare at the tailgate, make sure they are easy to transport.
Be careful of cross-contamination. This is especially relevant to tailgates because of all the sharing and family style dishes! If you can’t make sure that all of the chips at the tailgate are gluten-free, get some dip in a bowl for yourself before everyone else starts digging in. Keep your eye on it and even label it with a sharpie so that everyone knows to keep their chips far away! Also be careful regarding serving utensils that often get shared around and hidden gluten ingredients in marinades, spice rubs and prepared salads.
Beware the grill. Grilling is a common tailgating tradition, but you’ll need to take extra precautions to make sure your food isn’t contaminated. If you can’t take responsibility for cleaning and preparing the grill in advance, you’ll need to wrap your food in foil to make sure it doesn’t come into contact with other food that’s had spice mixes or marinades added. If you can get the grill clean and ready at the beginning, make your food first and take extra measures if you’re still hungry later on!
What are some of your favorite, healthy tailgating snacks? We would love to hear about them and try them out! Enjoy football season!