It’s that time of year again when 68 teams and their fan bases are glued to the TV for the most exciting annual sporting tournament in the country. There are surprises in every round as the nation’s best teams go head to head. But don’t let the revelry surprise you when you have to step on the scale the next day. Create your own sure thing with these healthy recipes to enjoy March Madness without upsetting your stomach or waistline.

Baked Chicken Meatballs- March Madness Snack

march madness snack


1 large egg
1 pound ground chicken — I prefer 93% lean
1/2 cup whole wheat Panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil — divided
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste — divided
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 1/2 cups lightly packed fresh spinach


1. Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9×13-inch baking dish or rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray.
2. Beat the egg in the bottom of a large bowl. Add the chicken, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, 1 tablespoon olive oil, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, red pepper flakes, parsley, and 1 tablespoon tomato paste.
3. Finely chop the spinach into small bits, then add it to the bowl. With a fork, or your hands (I’m all about the hands here), mix until well combined, being careful not to compact the meat. Shape the mixture into 12 meatballs and arrange in the prepared baking dish so that they do not touch.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon tomato paste. It won’t be perfectly smooth but will bake up just fine. Brush over the top of the meatballs.
5. Bake the meatballs in the upper third of the oven for 18 to 22 minutes, until cooked through. Serve hot with pasta, zucchini noodles, inside a hoagie bun, or any way you choose!

Black Bean Dip- March Madness Snack

healthy mach madness snacks


2 15-ounce cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup chopped onion or shallot
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon agave or honey
1/4 of a jalapeño pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Cilantro for garnish


1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste.
2. Serve with your favorite veggies, chips or crackers. Garnish with cilantro.

Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries – March Madness Snack

healthy snacks


2 large sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1×3-inch wedges
3 tablespoons soybean oil (often labeled “vegetable oil”)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder


1. Position rack in upper third of oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray baking sheet with non-stick spray.
2. Place sweet potatoes and soybean oil in large bowl, toss lightly. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika.
3. Arrange potatoes in a single layer on prepared baking sheet, being sure not to overcrowd.
4. Bake until tender and golden brown, turning occasionally. Cooking time is 18 to 24 minutes.
5. Cool 5 minutes before serving.

Now, just like your brackets, you have your food plan completed. We hope the end results of both find you cheering, not jeering.

-Josh Fuher – PT @ XF Waukesha