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I am a born and raised Alabama girl, where football isn’t just a sport, it’s a way of life. In fact, football is nearly a religion in the South. Relationships are made and broken over your allegiances – and everyone has an allegiance.

Food is also a big deal in the south, which is why tailgating and game day foods are serious business. Southern colleges have taken the tailgate from chips and drinks to tents with televisions, fired-up grills and some of the best dishes you’ve ever had.

Tailgate

Game day foods have such great flavors from being smoked, setting overnight or loaded with spice. They can also be loaded with extra calories. I like to keep my stress geared toward the action on the field, not what’s happening on my plate. Here are my go-tos for a food victory on game day.

1. Guacamole: I am a self-proclaimed guacamole connoisseur. Go for the healthy fat! Add color to your dip with cilantro, tomatoes and red onion but don’t over blend it. Just give it a few good mashes with the back of a fork or potato masher to mix the flavors. Make an allowance by dipping carrots or cauliflower instead of tortilla chips. Check out this recipe.

2. Buffalo Chicken Dip: The deliciousness of buffalo wings has made them a game day favorite. One way to keep them from being a penalty to your plate is to swap them out for buffalo chicken dip. I really like this recipe from Skinnytaste. Using celery sticks to scoop it makes it all pleasure and no guilt! Another way to get the buffalo flavor without the guilt is Skinnytaste’s Buffalo Cauliflower Bites.

Buffalo Chicken Dip skinny taste

3. Chili: It’s a game day staple. People take their chili very personally and there are so many varieties from chicken to beef and even vegetarian. My go-to for forever has been my mom’s super simple recipe, which is a typical beef and bean with crackers and cheese version. But last fall I discovered Skinny Mom’s White Chicken Chili and it moved quickly into second place for me.

white chicken chili

Having other easy-to-munch options is a great idea. This is exactly where low-calorie options like fruit and vegetable trays fit in. Another simple option is a cheese and cracker tray with small cubes of cheese and whole grain or baked cracker options, such as Toasted Ritz Chips or Wheat Thins. Popcorn is another great choice and with brands like Skinny Pop, there are many yummy flavors to snack on.

No game day is complete without something sweet to offset the savory. One way to satisfy your sweet tooth with a little protein and healthy fat boost is with flavored nuts, like Dashing Dish’s Sugar-Free Cinnamon Roasted Almonds. Sometimes only a cake or cookie will do, so I like Skinny Mom’s No Bake Chocolate Protein Cookie. No matter how your team fares, you can be sure your game day fare is a healthy win!