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3 Healthy Tailgating Recipes That Don’t Sacrifice Flavor

We’re in the midst of football season, and whether you’re a fan of the sport or not, we can all agree on one thing: the snacks are killer. We love our wings, nachos, chili, and dips, but weekends can feel heavy after tailgating and attending viewing parties with those traditional spreads for the last two months. As the holidays approach, we’re looking for lighter, yet delicious, ways to enjoy football season. These three recipes will make your game day a little bit healthier without sacrificing any of that precious flavor.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Spinach and Artichoke Dip Project Juice Recipe
Project Juice

We love gooey, cheesy spinach and artichoke dip just as much as the next person. But most recipes are laden with a ton of dairy, which could be problematic if you’re watching your fat or calorie intake. But this recipe from Project Juice subs out the traditional cheese with an irresistible version made from cashews, which is incredibly creamy and flavorful. We bet your guests won’t even notice the difference.

Ingredients for the cashew cheese:

  • 2 cups soaked cashews
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • .5 tsp garlic powder

Ingredients for the dip:

  • 1.5 cups canned artichokes, roughly chopped
  • 1.5 cups spinach, roughly chopped
  • .5 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1.5 tsp garlic powder
  • .5 tsp black pepper


  1. Soak cashews in water for a minimum of 2 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. To make the cashew cheese: In a blender or large food processor, first add soaked cashews, water, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, .5 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of sea salt, and 2 tablespoons of organic extra virgin olive oil. Blend until very smooth. If you are using a high powered blender, this will only take a minute or two. If you’re using a standard blender or food processor, keep blending until very smooth.
  4. Transfer your cashew cheese from the blender to a large mixing bowl. Add the roughly chopped artichoke and spinach, diced onion, black pepper, sea salt, and garlic powder. Mix very well and pour into an oven safe dish.
  5. Bake mixture for 20 minutes.
  6. To brown the top, broil on high for 3 minutes. Serve in the baking dish to keep warm. For dipping, use your favorite bread or blue corn tortilla chips with sprouted amaranth, quinoa and chia seeds.

Hurricane Popcorn

Hurricane Popcorn MerSea

Salty chips and cheesy crackers are always solid additions to a game day snack spread, but suddenly they don’t sound so great when you read the ingredient labels. They’re often packed with preservatives, almost a day’s worth of sodium, and very little nutrients, which makes for empty calories (delicious calories, but empty calories nonetheless). But this umami-packed popcorn recipe from MerSea in Treasure Island San Francisco is an excellent alternative. It will give you the crunchy texture you crave with a savory punch from togarashi (a Japanese chili pepper blend) and furikake, a seaweed-based seasoning mix.


  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • .5 cup popcorn kernels
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp furikake
  • 1 tsp togarashi
  • 1 tsp salt


  1. Coat the bottom of a 3-4 quart saucepan with the canola oil. Add the popcorn kernels and stir them to coat with canola oil as well.
  2. Cover the pot and place on high heat. After the first 2-3 kernels pop, reduce heat to medium-low.
  3. The kernels will begin popping rapidly. When the popping slows to 4-5 kernels every 10 seconds, turn off the heat.
  4. Wait until you don’t hear a kernel pop for 30 seconds, and the popcorn is done.
  5. Melt the butter. Put the popcorn in a large mixing bowl, and pour the butter around the edge of the mixing bowl. Mix the popcorn to coat with butter
  6. Sprinkle the togarashi, furikake, and salt around the edge of the bowl. Toss to mix.
  7. Serve with plenty of beer (or perhaps sparkling water).

Grilled Chicken Souvlaki

Saloniki Grilled Chicken Souvlaki

We love our wings at The Manual. We love them when they’re dipped in gold and paired with Scotch. We love them when they are doused in Buffalo sauce and double-fried, Korean style. But we’re also aware that eating wings every week isn’t great for our waistline. Thankfully, Greek mini-chain Saloniki has the perfect solution. They marinate chicken thighs in a mustard-vinegar mix, then grill them to juicy perfection. Serve these skewers the next time you’re craving wings but want a healthier alternative.

Ingredients for the marinade:

  • 2 oz red wine vinegar
  • 7 oz canola oil
  • ⅓ cup minced red onion
  • 3 tsp dried Greek oregano
  • .5 tsp salt
  • 2.5 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • .5 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1.75 tsp black pepper

Ingredients for the Souvlaki:

  • 4 wooden skewers
  • 1 pound boneless chicken thigh meat
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Olive oil, to finish
  • Salt, to finish
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges


  1. Soak the skewers in water. This helps to keep them from burning.
  2. Place all marinade ingredients in a blender and process until smooth and well combined.
  3. Trim the chicken of excess fat and cut into 24 pieces.
  4. Toss the chicken in the marinade and marinate in the fridge for at least 3 hours and up to 12.
  5. Skewer chicken pieces onto 4 wooden skewers.
  6. Grill the skewers over a medium flame until charred and cooked through, about 7 minutes.
  7. Serve sprinkled with dried oregano, olive oil, salt, and a wedge of lemon.

Editors' Recommendations

Amanda Gabriele
Amanda Gabriele is a food and travel writer at The Manual and the former senior editor at Supercall. She can’t live without…
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