As we say goodbye to scorching summer temps and welcome cooler fall weather, there’s an excitement in the air about the synchronous start of tailgating season. Southerners are known for taking their game day food and festivities very seriously, which often means that creating a winning game plan for a crowd-pleasing menu can feel like a sport itself.  

While nutrition may not always be top-of-mind when it comes to planning a perfect tailgate spread, it IS possible to balance out the heavier fare with delicious options that are nutritious, too. Here’s a highlight reel of your new tailgating play book with dairy-rich recipes that will power you through even a full day of cheering on your favorite teams.

Southeast Dairy Association - granola bites

No matter what time your festivities kick off, it’s never too early to add a boost of protein, healthy fats and fiber to your starting lineup of game day goodies, which will give you energy to cheer long into the afternoon. Pass your morning team of tailgaters some High Protein Breakfast Granola Bites that taste like cookies and provide a powerhouse mix of yogurt, whey protein, almonds and oats. Yogurt is a star player that’s packed with not only high-quality protein–but also probiotics from its live and active cultures. These healthy bacteria can act as your body’s defensive line to help fend off gut inflammation, gas and bloating.

Southeast Dairy Association - pimiento cheese bacon bread

For afternoon games, bring your classic chip & dip game up a notch with Herb Parmesan Crisps and Hot Pizza Dip for a winning calcium-rich combination. And since every Southerner knows that cheese and bacon are the real MVPs of every game day spread, why not make some Pimento Cheese-Bacon Tailgating Bread to complement your burgers and barbecue. Ready to tackle a tailgating lineup that will be a ‘win’ in both taste AND nutrition? GAME ON!

Laura Marchese MS, RDN, LD is a registered dietitian who is passionate about promoting no-nonsense nutrition science and simple strategies to help people better nourish themselves and their families. As the founder of Nourishing Nutrition Consulting and ‘A Healthier You in 2’ online video series, Laura enjoys translating the science of food and nutrition into more ‘digestible’ information that can empower people to make better choices. Connect with Laura on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for a daily dose of healthy eating inspo and insight.