Healthy Tailgate from Priority Health

While it may be tradition to treat ourselves to the staple ballpark snacks, there are some healthier options for fans to indulge in this baseball season.  And they're just in time for Opening Day!  As Tigers fans get ready to root, root, root for the home team,  Rebecca Mason, RDN with Priority Health, shows us how to make delicious, healthy and affordable snacks fans can make to spice up their Opening Day tailgate. 

Carmel Corn

Prep Time: 30 Minutes 
Cook Time: 8 Minutes 
Servings: 8 cups, popped
Calories: 115 kcal 

3 tablespoons coconut oil
½ cup popcorn kernels
¼ cup maple syrup
½ teaspoon seas salt
1 tablespoon vanilla 

1.  Place 1 tablespoon coconut oil into deep pot or pan with tight fitting lid and melt over medium high heat. Add in popcorn kernels and cover. Shake pan back and forth every 20 seconds or so to heat kernels evenly. After about 2 minutes, kernels should start to pop. Once popping slows, remove popcorn from heat and pour into large bowl.
2.  In a small saucepan, place remaining coconut oil with maple syrup and salt. Boil 2 minutes, then remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Drizzle over popcorn and toss to coat evenly. Spread out onto some parchment paper to cool 30 minutes or so. Serve.


Servings: 12 
Calories: 253 kcal 

1/4 cup chopped jalapeño pepper
Cooking spray
12.5 ounces can low-sodium chicken breast (in water), drained
6 ounces avocado, mashed
1/2 cup plain, low-fat Greek yogurt
2 cups shredded, low-fat cheddar cheese, divided
1 teaspoon chili powder
24 mini bell peppers, halved with stem, seeds, and membranes removed
1/4 cup chopped scallions

1.  Sauté the diced jalapeño in a lightly greased skillet until tender.
2.  Mix the jalapeño, chicken, avocado, yogurt, one cup of cheese, and chili powder in a medium bowl.
3.  Arrange the mini bell peppers in a single layer in a large casserole dish. Fill with chicken mixture, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and broil until cheese has melted, about 2 to 4 minutes.
4. Garnish with scallions and serve with salsa, if desired.

Carrot Hot Dogs 

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 
Servings: 8 

8 medium carrots, peeled and skinny ends trimmed
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 c. low sodium vegetable broth
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. Liquid Smoke
8 hot dog buns
Ketchup, for serving
Mustard, for serving

1.  Add the carrots to a small roasting pan and toss with olive oil. In a small bowl, whisk together broth, vinegar, soy sauce, maple syrup, garlic powder, paprika and liquid smoke. Pour over carrots and cover pan with foil. Let sit for 30 minutes.
2.  Preheat oven to 425°. Place the foil-covered baking dish in the oven and roast carrots for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and roast for another 20 minutes, until the carrots are just tender enough to stab with a fork.
3.  Place carrots in hot dug buns, serve with ketchup and mustard.

Bite-Sized Pretzels 

Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 15 min 
Servings: 6 Dozen 

2 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
7/8 to 1 cup warm water*

1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons baking soda
coarse, kosher or pretzel salt; or coarse or Swedish pearl sugar, optional
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
cinnamon-sugar, optional

1.  To make dough by hand, or with a mixer: Place all of the dough ingredients into a bowl, and beat until well-combined. Knead the dough, by hand or machine, for about 5 minutes, until it's soft, smooth, and quite slack. Flour the dough and place it in a bag, and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.
2.  To make dough with a bread machine: Place all of the dough ingredients into the pan of your bread machine, program the machine for dough or manual, and press Start. Allow the dough to proceed through its kneading cycle (no need to let it rise), then cancel the machine, flour the dough, and give it a rest in a plastic bag, as instructed above.
3.  While the dough is resting, prepare the topping: Combine the boiling water and baking soda, stirring until the soda is totally (or almost totally) dissolved. Set the mixture aside to cool to lukewarm (or cooler).
4.  Preheat your oven to 400°F. Prepare a baking sheet by spraying it with vegetable oil spray, or lining it with parchment paper. If you're not using King Arthur Flour's brand, grease the parchment with vegetable oil spray to make double-sure the bites won't stick.
5.  Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and divide it into six equal pieces.
6.  Roll the six pieces of dough into 12" to 15" ropes. Cut each rope crosswise into about 12 pieces.
7.  Pour the cooled baking soda solution into a pan large enough to hold the bites. Place the bites into the solution, gently swish them around, and leave them there for a couple of minutes. Transfer them to a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, and top with pretzel salt or sea salt; or with pearl sugar, for sweet pretzel bites.
8.  Bake the bites for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and roll them in the melted butter.
9.  For cinnamon-sugar pretzels, toss with cinnamon-sugar once you've rolled the bites in the butter.
10.  Place on a rack. In you're not going to enjoy them immediately, store the bites, well-wrapped, at room temperature. Reheat briefly before serving.
11.  Yield: about 6 dozen bites.

Frozen Bananas 
Prep time: 15 Minutes 
Ready in: 2 h 15 m 
Calories: 100 kcal 
Servings: 12 

4 large ripe bananas, peeled and cut into thirds 
¼ cup shredded coconut
¾ cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate 
wooden popsicle sticks 

1.  Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Insert a popsicle stick into each piece of banana. Cover each piece with melted chocolate using a rubber spatula and sprinkle with coconut. (Reheat chocolate, as needed, to keep it melted.) Place the bananas on the baking sheet and freeze until frozen, about 2 hours.
a.  To melt chocolate, microwave on Medium for 1 minute. Stir, then continue microwaving on Medium, stirring every 20 seconds, until melted. Or place chocolate in the top of a double boiler over hot, but not boiling, water. Stir until melted.