A Secretly Healthy Tournament Party

March 07, 2018 | Food Lion
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You don't have to eat unhealthy foods to enjoy your tournament party. Try these recipes for your guiltless tournament gathering.

By now your bracket may be busted, but that doesn't mean your tournament viewing party can't be a slam dunk. All good NCAA tournament parties have to have appetizers to keep your friends full as you watch the endless games on TV—but they don't have to be deep fried or loaded with cream, mayo or butter.

Here, we provide tips, tricks and recipes to keep you healthy all throughout the tournament. Try these game day appetizers that are on the lighter side:

Sweet & Salty Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

This oil-free and butter-free snack is easy to make and will disappear quickly thanks to just a little maple syrup and some salt. And talk about easy—this recipe can be ready in less than 15 minutes with minimal clean up.

Pumpkin seeds are loaded with nutrients. One ounce of pumpkin seeds (about a handful) provides 5 grams of plant-based protein and 5 grams of fiber. Plus, they contain heart-healthy fats (omega 3 and omega 6) and offer important minerals including iron and zinc.

Prep Time: 2 minutes      Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds or pepitas
  • ½ tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl stir to combine pumpkin seeds, maple syrup and salt until seeds are fully and evenly coated.
  3. Pour seeds onto parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes.
  4. Allow to cool before handling the seeds. Enjoy once the seeds have cooled or store in a glass container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Black Bean Dip Recipe

This zesty dip is perfect for serving with raw veggies or chips on game day. It can even be used as a healthy spread in place of mayo or meat for your sandwich or wrap. Black beans provide fiber and important nutrients such as iron and zinc.

Prep Time: 8 minutes     Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • 2 15-ounce cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup chopped onion or shallot
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon agave or honey
  • ¼ of a jalapeño pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Cilantro for garnish
  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  2. Serve with your favorite veggies, chips or crackers. Garnish with cilantro.


As if you need another reason to love guacamole, here are some of the amazing health benefits of avocados. Avocados contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and nutrients that actually reduce your cholesterol levels, promote healthy vision and potentially protect against cancer. They contain folate, vitamins E, C, and B6. Plus, they are high in dietary fiber – great for overall heart health and digestion. And, avocados contain 60% more potassium per ounce than bananas!

Prep Time: 10 minutes    Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup red onion, finely diced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • ½ jalapeno, finely diced
  1. Place the avocado, lime juice and salt in a medium mixing bowl and mash with a potato masher until smooth and creamy (with a few chunks remaining if desired).
  2. Stir in the red onions, cilantro and jalapeño until everything is mixed together well.
  3. Taste the guacamole and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Prep Like a Champ

Appetizer Tip: Bulk up on the veggies for dipping and find chips and crackers that are on the lighter side. Or make your own crackers. You can even try making kale chips.

For a main dish, instead of serving pizza, wings or pigs in a blanket, try a hearty stew or chili. Stews and chili are oftentimes loaded with vegetables and beans and can serve a lot of people with just one pot. Here are three ideas that would be perfect for watching college basketball:

  • Spicy Red Lentil Veggie Stew with Crispy Chickpea Croutons. A filling red lentil stew provides dietary fiber and plant-based protein.
  • Vegetarian Sweet Potato Chili A vegetarian chili is simple, fun and super flavorful. It is full of fiber and protein from the white beans and loaded with colorful veggies to round out this perfect dinner in a bowl.
  • One-Pot Tex-Mex Veggie Quinoa Stew An easy, one-pot meal that is loaded with plant-based protein and an assortment of colorful vegetables.

Let's not forget about dessert before the final buzzer! Keep it healthful with these easy dessert ideas that are refined sugar-free and butter-free.

  • Healthy Raw Cookie Dough Balls
  • Instant Vegan Chocolate Mousse

Dessert Tip: Always put out a bowl of cut up fresh fruit. Pick colors that represent your team to amp up the spirit.

Your tournament game plan is now complete with these healthier game day options for appetizers, main dishes and dessert.

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