Embracing the ‘Madness’ with healthier choices

With the NCAA March Madness tournament upon us, stressing over your team picks for the next few weeks may not be the healthiest, but getting your family involved can be.

And one way to do this is to have inviting snacks. Another way is to make a challenge out of each tournament game.

Fun basketball-themed appetizers

Here are some fun and easy hors d’oeuvres to share with your friends and family as you rendezvous for the game—whether it’s a second-round match up or the championship finals.

Most of these are healthier alternatives to the traditional chips and dip or fried chicken wings.

(Food photo ideas collected from various websites and friend input.)

Basketball-like fruit in a makeshift hoop-net set:

What a great idea and a healthy one! —We all know how great oranges are for our bodies! You might also cut up carrots to resemble tiny basketballs—especially if you plan to use smaller cups.

Cheese and crackers just for the NCAA:

Someone should copyright this and sell sets of these at the grocery store! But these snacks are easy to prepare ourselves. Cheese and crackers may not be a super food combo, but it still beats pizza and pop!

Cup o’ fruit is a slam dunk:

This is probably the easiest snack you can offer and one of the healthiest. Plus, you have plenty of options to choose from whether you grab the cups of peaches, oranges or even the mixed fruit—Just have fun with it!

Not liking any of the mentioned ideas? You might even consider picking your favorite team—and your family’s favorite teams—to make a tray of veggies with just those colors. (OK, throw in a couple cookies, too!)

What kids think

Sage, 10, (left in photo) of Troy thinks March Madness is awesome—“I like March Madness because I like a lot of the teams,” she said, picking Louisville as her favorite as well as St. Louis—“But they’re not as good.”

While watching the games with her dad, Sage typically enjoys chomping on a bowl of chips but a healthy alternative that she would love is watermelon.

Big brother Mitchell, 14, (right in photo) loves playing basketball but isn’t a huge fan of the ‘Madness.’ But he still plans to catch some of the games on TV and says oranges would be a healthy and tasty snack he would choose instead of junk food.

Making a game of it

Getting creative isn’t a difficult task when looking for ways to include your family during the tournament if you make a game of each game.

Try creating fun but challenging rules such as ‘For each foul, we have to do five push-ups’ or ‘If there is a free throw—ten crunches.’ This will help keep everyone’s attention on the game, is an easy way to squeeze in a little fitness and the most important part—everyone is together.

Plus, the periodical movement is far better for your body than sitting on the couch the entire game.

Don’t be shy to getting creative and changing the rules for each night you turn on a game, too.

Be sure to share your tournament ideas with us and how successful (and fun) it was! Send us a note at Jenbucciarelli@gmail.com.)

A new tournament

While we don’t support junk food overindulgence, this might be a fun way to get your kids fired up about the tournament—in a new way. This bracket matches different treats and snack foods like Oreos and Pop-Tarts in what they call Snack Madness—They even have specific conferences!

Since Snack Madness doesn’t encourage healthy eating, if you are completely against reminding your family of the sugary refreshments that you no longer buy, you might consider drawing up your own bracket with fruits, veggies, nuts and grains.

Girl power

Don’t forget the NCAA Women’s 2013 Tournament kicks off this weekend. You can find a printable bracket here!

Drop us a line

Have a fun and healthier snack idea you want to share with other readers? Or a creative way to involve the whole family during this year’s March Madness? Send us a note at Jenbucciarelli@gmail.com.

Happy March Madness, everyone!

About Jen Bucciarelli

Veggie lover and aspiring word chef, reporter Jen Bucciarelli covers all things health and medicine for Rochester Media and The Community Edge. She is always on the hunt for local experts who can help improve the lives of our readers. Send her a note at JenBucciarelli@gmail.com.

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