By Fabiana Santana
The Daily Meal
For football fans, this is the happiest time of the year. Not only for the game-winning rush, but also for the tailgating parties that come beforehand. Nothing beats chowing down on game-time grub. Chips, dips, burgers, ribs -- eat too many of those sauced-up pulled pork sandwiches and fried Oreos, and you could be out for the count before the season is over. You worked all summer on your swimsuit figure, but all it takes is any given Sunday full of food to wreck it all.
If you want to make it through the day, let alone season, you might want to reevaluate your tailgating menu. We’re not saying to show up with a salad instead of a sub — although a few more greens never hurt anyone. No, the key to a fun and healthy tailgating session is to swap out certain ingredients in your favorite meals to lighten their calorie and fat load.
Rocco DiSpirito created a low-fat barbecue rib recipe specifically for tailgating. The celeb is a regular at the New York City Wine & Food Festival’s Jets + Chefs: The Ultimate Tailgate party, and his recipe cuts the calories and fat in this popular dish by two thirds. He revamped another tailgating favorite -- sausage and peppers -- by swapping out pork sausage for Italian turkey sausage links. Adding fresh chopped tomatoes, onions, and peppers that have been lightly sautéed with olive oil lends a brightness and fresh flavor that more than make up for the lack of pork.
"I ate sausage and peppers a lot when I was a kid," says DiSpirito. "It’s an Italian hot dog. You have it on a bun, you hold it in your hand, and it’s delicious. Perfect for tailgating!"
Here are some more tips and tricks to make your tailgating just as much a health fest as it is a fun fest.
More From The Daily Meal:
-- The 8 Healthiest Beers to Pack in Your Tailgate Cooler
-- 10 Easy Swaps to Make Your Tailgate Healthier
-- Healthiest Foods to Bring to a Tailgate
-- 6 Reasons Beer Is Good for You