As the colder weather settles in, there are lots of excuses for staying in to watch a big game or catch up on a new favorite show. Whether you’re snuggled up on the couch for a solo TV sesh, or hosting a raging watch party, snacks will most definitely be in order! After all, binge-watching requires sustenance, especially sports — some games and matches can last for hours on end, and getting up to fix a full meal just isn’t the vibe.
So many snack foods are basically junk, but there are ways to fuel your binge-watching gatherings with nutrient-dense, better-for-you options that keep you going strong and feeling great. With a little planning ahead, you can even incorporate plenty of plants into your game-day and television binging!
Here are some of our favorite healthy hacks for these cozy, social occasions:
Before any other snacks are served, bring out a beautiful, bountiful, colorful crudite platter. This way, while everyone is hungriest, there are heaps of fresh, raw veggies to munch on. You can include your favorite dips along with the veg: hummus, black bean dip or vegan ranch are all tasty, healthy options.
For maximum visual and flavor impact, think beyond the usual carrots, cherry tomatoes, and cucumbers for your crudite spread. Including other vibrantly hued ingredients can really make the plate pop! Try thinly sliced watermelon radishes, rainbow carrots, purple or yellow cauliflower, endive, mini peppers, and snow peas. For a more substantial nosh, add small dishes of antipasti like marinated artichoke hearts, peppers, and mushrooms, garlic-stuffed olives, and stuffed grape leaves.
Tip: If any of the vegetables are a bit soft or wilted, give them a 15-minute soak in ice water to crisp them up!
Send in the Salsa & Guac
Chips and dip are the ultimate game day snack. Compared to potato chips and dairy-based dips, tortilla chips with salsa and guacamole bring way more plants to the party. To double-down on the nutrition, look for chips that include sprouted quinoa, black beans, or other ingredients in addition to corn.
Or, make baked tortilla chips at home! Simply brush both sides of corn tortillas with olive oil, sprinkle them with sea salt, and then cut them into chip-sized triangles. Spread them in an even layer on a cookie sheet, and bake them for 10 minutes at 375ºF (190ºC), stirring them occasionally. You can also easily make your own salsa (like our salsa verde recipe) and guac to make sure that they are packed with plants and lower in fat and sodium.
Substitute with Style
With a bit of kitchen prowess, you can elevate classic party foods with clever swaps that up the plant ante! For instance, instead of traditional buffalo chicken wings, try buffalo cauliflower bites, which are every bit as savory, spicy, and delicious. Grilled carrots are a surprisingly good substitute for hot dogs (don’t forget all the toppings!), and zucchini fries made in the air fryer are seriously as addictive and satisfying as french fries.
Health-forward products can make prep even easier. Mini pizzas on cauliflower crusts with ZENB Gourmet Pasta Sauce are a major upgrade to takeout or frozen pizza; mac-and-cheese with ZENB Pasta is a shareable, comfort food treat powered by nutrient-packed yellow peas.
Don’t forget about the beverages, which are a must for any type of binge-watching situation! Whether that’s mocktails and zero-proof spritzes, or boozy cocktails, sneaking in a few extra servings of plants is a snap. Just break out your juicer!
Rosemary lemonade (with or without vodka), jalapeno limeade, beet juice bloody marys, carrot juice and ginger beer mules, cucumber-celery collins, and kale margaritas are just some ideas of drinks you can make with nutrient-rich fresh pressed juice. The colorful drinks will also look so pretty in your vintage glassware! For brunch-time sports games, fruit smoothies, ashwagandha iced tea, golden lattes, and oat milk chai are solidly healthy options.
For more recipes fit for any occasion, explore the ZENB recipe collection, which features over 150 plant-powered dishes! For more tips and hacks on living a balanced lifestyle, follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.