Sports and Snacks

After four agonizing months with virtually no games to watch, a sports fan’s plate is now full with Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League all returning in late July or early August.

Golf, NASCAR, Major League Soccer and the WNBA are also in full swing.

But what will be on fans’ plates while they watch all the action from home?

While it is tempting to sit down for a full day of fastballs and slam dunks with hordes of salty, sweet, fattening snacks, that may not be the best idea.

That’s especially true for those who may have had a shortage of exercise the last few months, with gyms closed and people at home.

People should consider filling out their gameday menu with healthy alternatives and incorporate fruits and vegetables into snacking.

Fans can put a healthy twist on some classic sports bar favorites by replacing buffalo wings with buffalo cauliflower, or nachos with sweet potato chips.

Mozzarella sticks can still be enjoyed, but a healthier version of them can be made by baking them, rather than deep frying them, and utilizing wheat breadcrumbs and Melba toasts.

A good dip is essential for sports-watching snacking. A tasty spinach dip or hummus can spice up vegetables. Slice up some celery, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and tomatoes and dip away all day, without the guilt that comes with downing a bag of chips coated in nacho cheese.

For those looking to mix up their salty, savory binging with a dose of sweetness, fruit is a great option.

Choose favorites for a delicious fruit salad or a fruit tray. Dips can be utilized here, as well, with fruit pairing wonderfully with a yogurt dip.

There are many ways to get creative with fruits and vegetables, as well. How about green bean fries or wasabi peas? Or a fruit salsa to dip cinnamon chips in?

Many fans will still want to get their meat fix, as well. Turkey burgers and jerky are good options here.

Fresh lunchmeat from the deli is good. Avoid processed, pre-packaged options – and add some slices in with fruit and vegetable plates.

Whether it’s a spin on a classic snack or trying something completely new, be sure to diversify snacking with some healthy choices.

After all, there is a lot of time for snacking in front of the TV now.

Sports are back, and fans are hungry.

RECIPES

Buffalo Cauliflower

(from Tasty.co)

Ingredients

for 4 servings

¾ cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon paprika

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

¾ cup milk or milk alternative

1 head cauliflower

¼ cup buffalo sauce or hot sauce

2 tablespoons coconut oil or vegetable oil

1 tablespoon honey

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 450˚F (230˚C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, add the flour, paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and milk, and stir until well-combined.

Break the head of cauliflower into florets, about 1½-inches wide. Add the cauliflower florets to the batter, making sure each piece is evenly coated. Arrange the coated cauliflower on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping halfway.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the buffalo sauce, coconut oil, and honey and stir until evenly combined. Brush the buffalo sauce mixture on the cauliflower and bake for another 20 minutes.

Sweet Potato Chips

(from Delish.com)

INGREDIENTS FOR 4 SERVINGS

2 medium sweet potatoes, thinly sliced

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 tbsp. cornstarch

1 tbsp. chili powder

2 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. mustard powder

2 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. Freshly ground pepper

2 green onions, finely sliced

2/3 c. sour cream

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350°. Place two wire racks on two large rimmed baking sheets. Toss sweet potatoes in oil until evenly coated.

In a separate large bowl, whisk together spices and cornstarch. Add sweet potatoes and toss until evenly coated in spice mixture.

Place sweet potatoes on wire racks in a single layer. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until sweet potatoes look crispy and dry to touch. (They’ll continue to crisp as they cool.)

While the sweet potatoes cool, make dip: Fold green onions into sour cream and serve with sweet potato chips.

Healthy Mozzarella Sticks

(from Foodnetwork.com)

Ingredients for 6 servings

10 whole-grain Melba toasts

1/3 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Large pinch ground cayenne, optional

2 large egg whites

1 large egg

1 clove garlic, minced

1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour

8 sticks part-skim mozzarella string cheese, halved crosswise

Olive oil cooking spray, for coating the cheese sticks

1/3 cup store-bought marinara sauce, warmed, for serving

Directions

Pulse the melba toasts in a food processor to make semi-coarse crumbs; transfer to a medium bowl or dish. Mix in the breadcrumbs, oregano, 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper and the cayenne if using.

Whisk together the egg whites, whole egg, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper in another bowl.

Put the flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a resealable plastic bag. Add the cheese pieces to the bag, close and shake to coat. Dip one piece of the cheese at a time in the egg mixture first, and then roll firmly in the breadcrumb mixture; then dip the same piece again in the egg mixture followed by the breadcrumb mixture. (Note: Use one hand with the dry mixture and the other with the wet mixture.) Place on a parchment paper-lined plate or baking sheet. Freeze for 15 minutes, or up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Transfer the frozen cheese sticks to another baking sheet. Fully coat the cheese sticks with the olive oil cooking spray. Bake until golden, about 12 minutes. Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately with the warm marinara sauce.

Annie’s Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Chips

(from AllRecipes.com)

Ingredients for 10 servings

2 kiwis, peeled and diced

2 Golden Delicious apples — peeled, cored and diced

8 ounces raspberries

1 pound strawberries

2 tablespoons white sugar

1 tablespoon brown sugar

3 tablespoons fruit preserves, any flavor

10 (10-inch) flour tortillas

butter flavored cooking spray

2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar

Directions

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix kiwis, Golden Delicious apples, raspberries, strawberries, white sugar, brown sugar and fruit preserves. Cover and chill in the refrigerator at least 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Coat one side of each flour tortilla with butter flavored cooking spray. Cut into wedges and arrange in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle wedges with desired amount of cinnamon sugar. Spray again with cooking spray.

Bake in the preheated oven 8 to 10 minutes. Repeat with any remaining tortilla wedges. Allow to cool approximately 15 minutes. Serve with chilled fruit mixture.