By now your bracket may be busted, but that doesn’t mean your March Madness viewing party food can’t be a slam dunk.   Here, I’m sharing my tips, tricks and recipes to keep you healthy all throughout the tournament.

All good NCAA tournament parties have to have appetizers to keep your friends full as you watch the endless games on TV.  They don’t have to be deep fried or loaded with cream, mayo or butter.  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.
  • Black Bean Dip – 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.
  • Chipotle Guacamole (pictured above) – 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!

More Healthy Appetizer Ideas:

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 (pictured below).  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:

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.

Plus try these two vegan and gluten-free desserts that your guests will never guess contain good-for-you ingredients such as white beans, flaxseeds, oats and almond flour!

Dessert Tip: Always put out a bowl of cut up fresh fruit.  Pick colors that represent your team to amp up the spirit.  Serve your fruit with this creamy non-dairy fruit dip.

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

If you give any of these recipes a try at your March Madness party, please take a picture and tag it @eatingbyelaine and #eatingbyelaine on Instagram (or Facebook or Twitter) so I can see!