Are you looking for some game winning recipes for your March Madness party? Be the envy of the competition by sticking to these smart substitutions that are sure to turn your meals into healthy crowd pleasers.

Aida Hitti-Zeidan, Registered Dietitian and Clinical Nutrition Manager at Adventist HealthCare Washington Adventist Hospital, recommends the following:

Kale Chips

Kale is a powerhouse vegetable that is filled with nutrients and low in calories and carbohydrates.

Kale chips instead of potato chips: Kale is a powerhouse vegetable that is filled with nutrients and low in calories and carbohydrates.  It’s also a great source of vitamin A, which can help boost your immune system as it protects the cells lining your respiratory, urinary and intestinal tracts.

Baked chicken instead of fried chicken: Keep calories and fat low by baking lean meat instead of frying. A baked drumstick is 110 calories, 10.1 grams of fat compared to a fried drumstick with 905 calories, 52.39 grams of fat. You can fill up more on healthy, baked foods since fat and calorie content is much lower.

Fruit sides instead of sweets: Satisfy sweet cravings with fruit instead of candy. Fruits like apples still have that sweet taste but contain much less sugar than a candy bar. Try seasonal fruits this spring like strawberries, which are a great source of vitamin C.

When planning for dessert, choose foods low in saturated fats and/or trans fats to maintain a heart healthy diet. Use the following heart healthy substitutions recommended by the American Heart Association:

Avoid these “Penalty Foods” Score Points with these Heart Healthy Alternatives
High-fat cookies and crackers Fat-free or low-fat cookies, crackers (such as graham crackers, rice cakes, fig and other fruit bars, ginger snaps and molasses cookies)
Devil’s food cake Angel food cake
Ice cream bars Frozen fruit bars
Pudding made with whole milk Pudding made with fat-free or low-fat milk
Ice cream Sherbet, ice milk or frozen, fat-free or low-fat yogurt


Sweets are not the only temptation while watching sports games. Spectators also tend to indulge in high calorie beverages. Aida and Aurielle recommend choosing the following instead:

  • Seltzer water flavored with lemon and/or lime is a great alternative to soda (gives the same bubbly feel as soda without the sugar and artificial flavors/colors).
  • 100% juice is a better option than juice drinks.

Tell us, which game winning recipes will you be shooting for to make it a healthy March Madness?