Healthy eating is more than just the latest trend. It is a lifestyle choice that most people are making to some extent every day. There are, however, many occasions that lend themselves to a tradition of unhealthy choices, and tailgating tops the list.

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Does this tailgating spread look familiar?

Game day buffets are still all about fried chicken, wings, BBQ, slaw, potato salad, cheesy dips and cookies. Should we eliminate these Southern staples? No! That would be un-American, especially during SEC football season. But why not modify favorite dishes and add a few well-planned alternatives to the menu? Your conscience, and your game day guests, will thank you!

Teamwork could be the key to your sideline success. If your schedule is in the fourth quarter and the score is tight, why not go for the field goal with a few take-out tailgating dishes? Several local restaurants make healthy eating easy, even to-go! Here are a few plays we suggest:

Skewer

How could a Japanese restaurant and SEC football be on the same page, you ask? We think their custom skewered meats and veggies would be a touchdown on game day! Skewer opened in spring 2014, and it is a wonderful Japanese culinary option in East Memphis! Their formula for nutritious flavor: Use the highest quality ingredients to achieve the healthiest, most delicious Japanese cuisine possible!

Skewer_Healthy Tailgating Ideas

Custom Skewer Sets at Skewer, image via Facebook.

You will have fun creating a customized skewer tray for your event. Consider going green with their selection of shitake mushrooms, tomatos, asparagus, miso tofu, squash, zucchini, onion and bell pepper. If you are stickin’ with chicken, Skewer has a variety of flavors for your custom order: Negima yakitori (chicken meat with green onion), Basil chicken, Garlic chicken, and chicken with mixed veggies such as squash, zucchini, onion and bell pepper.

Stack these skewered combos next to the wings and fried chicken for a dish that offers protein with less fat than its fried neighbors. skewermemphis.com

Bedrock Eats & Sweets

Whether on the sports field or on the sidelines, eating simple whole foods is the foundation of fitness and health. Bedrock Eats & Sweets is one of the healthiest to-go concepts in town. They have designed their recipes with an optimal mix of nutrition and taste. They offer customers the options to pre-order or grab-n-go from a selection of healthy whole-foods meals and foods, and they specialize in the Paleo diet using naturally gluten-free ingredients.

Bedrock Eats & Sweets

Are you in charge of dessert? Serve smart sweets from Bedrock Eats & Sweets! Photos via Facebook.

If you are in charge of the dessert tray, bypass Betty Crocker and show up with smart sweets from Bedrock. (All bulk sweet items at Bedrock are sold by the dozen.) Your football fans will love to snack on a platter of Oatless Raisin Cookies, Espresso Chip Cookies: almond chocolate cookies with fresh ground espresso beans and chocolate chips; Espresso Brownies: super dark chocolate brownies with fresh ground espresso beans; and Coconut Macaroons: chewy coconut macaroons made with fresh shredded coconut, honey, coconut sugar, vanilla, coconut milk, egg whites and more natural ingredients.

While their meals-of-the-week and grab-n-go may suit your numbers on game day, they also have a bulk ordering option. Bulk Items from Bedrock Eats & Sweets, typically portions to serve 10 to 15, are made to order. You can place your order online and choose your quantity, pickup day and location. (Allow 7 or more business days for pickup.) Make good health and performance on the sidelines a priority during football season with help from this local ringer. bedrockeatsandsweets.com

Holiday Deli & Ham Co.

A dependable and consistent player! For a traditional tailgating layout, Holiday Deli & Ham Co. is your stop on the way to a football picnic. Include a few lighter options from their extensive menu: Black Bean & Corn Salad, a delicious, healthier and lighter dip alternative to cheesier options that are high in saturated fat; a sandwich platter that includes turkey and/or veggie pitas; and a side assortment of colorful veggies and/or fruits. The variety available for picnic combinations to-g0 from the Holiday Deli & Ham Co. is limitless. Or, simply pre-order box lunches from their catering menu, and game day will be done.

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This sandwich platter is an example of one of the fabulous examples available at Holiday Deli & Ham Co.

Plan ahead by using the Holiday Deli & Ham Co.’s online nutrition information. They have done the research for you, so all you have to do is make informed, delicious choices. There is an entire gluten-free menu available online, too. With multiple locations, there is sure to be a Holiday Deli on the way to your favorite team site: holidaydeli.com

Team up with local restaurants to provide healthier options at your next sports event. You will have many fans at your tailgating table who appreciate the healthy variety you bring to the field.