Whether you plan to tailgate at the stadium or watch the Jaguars games this season from your couch, you know you will be snacking, munching and gobbling your way through each quarter.

Why not make a few small updates to your usual game-day nutritional repertoire to cut down on the not-so-good-when-consumed-in-excess nutrients like fat, saturated fat and overall total calories?

You’ll thank yourself later for making an effort to improve your diet without sacrificing the good eats.

Choose ground round hamburger meat over your regular 80/20 ground beef (80/20 = 20 percent fat by weight) when making hamburgers. For each 5-ounce burger you will save 150 calories, 8 grams of total fat, 6 g of saturated fat and 5 mg of sodium, while still maintaining the same amount of protein at 35 g.

Choose baked tortilla chips and salsa over fried potato chips and French onion dip. For each serving, 1-ounce of chips equals about 10-12 chips, and 2 tablespoons of dip or salsa, you will save anywhere from 90 calories, 12 g of total fat, 1.5 g of saturated fat and 170 mg of sodium. Chips and dip really can add up fast since most of us will most likely consume more than one serving.

Choose to slightly modify your buffalo chicken dip recipe using the recipe below and serve with celery sticks instead of the traditional version served with chips and you will save almost 200 calories, 15 g of fat and 9 g of saturated fat. This is still a sodium-rich dish, but using shredded fresh chicken, Neufchatel cheese instead of cream cheese, Greek yogurt instead of bottled salad dressing and celery instead of chips to dip, you will reduce the unnecessary and excessive sodium load. You won’t even miss the chips with this dish because the celery provides plenty of crunch. It’s also naturally salty and fresh tasting, which helps to balance out both the creaminess and spiciness of this dish.

Choose infused fruit water or LaCroix instead of soda, juice or punch to save 200 calories and 36 g of sugar for every 8 ounces that you drink. That’s 9 teaspoons of sugar and a whole lot of calories that provide very little nutrition. One hundred percent fruit juice does have some nutritional benefits, but you are better off drinking water and eating a piece of whole fruit which provides fiber, phytochemicals and other health-boosting compounds.

Resources used for calorie comparisons include USDA Nutrient Database, My Fitness Pal and The Foodie Physician (www.thefoodiephysician.com)

Better Buffalo Chicken Dip

Makes 16 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 package (8 oz.) Neufchatel cheese, softened
  • 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 8 oz. (about 2 ½ cups) shredded, cooked chicken breast
  • ½ cup sliced scallions plus extra for garnish
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • Optional: shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese or crumbled reduced fat blue cheese (this will increase your calorie, total and saturated fat and sodium content)

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Mix the softened cheese and yogurt together in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in the hot sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, chicken, scallions and pepper.
  • Pour the dip into a baking dish and bake for 15-20 minutes until bubbly. If desired, you can top the dish with cheese. If using shredded cheese, sprinkle the cheese on top before baking. If using crumbled blue cheese, sprinkle the blue cheese on top as soon as you remove the dip from the oven. Garnish with sliced scallions. Serve with celery sticks.

This recipe adopted from www.thefoodiephysician.com.