Footy Food Minus The Gut


If you’re like most Australians, tonight is reserved for one thing:

Watching the State of Origin.

It is also reserved for eating crappy foods, washing it down with a beer or four, and heading to work with a hangover.

I’m all for enjoying myself during sporting matches, but I’m also a fan of actually sticking to a meal plan, and not blowing it whenever a social occasion comes up.

So, instead of the typical deep fried junk that is served at footy time, here are a few healthier alternatives.

1. Cornpop

The hardcore Paleo followers will pull me up for suggesting corn, but this is my blog, so I’m going to run with it. And I figure I’m turning typical pop corn on it’s head, so let’s refer to it as cornpop.


A small unbuttered cornpop at the movies typically has more than 650 calories; a large has 1,200. Shitballs.

Those cal’s are almost all from oil and the cheap flavouring used in the cooking process. Although you can find low-calorie microwave cornpop packets, they are normally loaded with salt and mystery ingredients. Cornpop itself is a healthy snack that is often made unhealthy with oil, butter, salt, and other high calorie toppings. Today I want to hook you up with cornpop that has flavour WITHOUT the calories.

I like cornpop for a few reasons.

  • It is packed with polyphenols (same ones found in red wine); more antioxidants than you’ll get in similar quantities of fruits or vegetables
  • It’s antioxidants can have a wide range of effects in fighting cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular and neuro-degenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s). Can also help with your workout recovery
  • It FEELS like I’m eating something cheat-y, when it is in fact within my macro’s and diet.

I also love to combine it with coconut oil. It’s a healthy choice, and as I’ve suggested earlier, the fats contained in coconut oil are healthy and can assist with your fat loss.

(And there’s this… one guy I know… who swears it’s great on his skin. Not me. Definitely not. A friend of mine)

For every 6 cups of cornpop I use 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Not only has that transformed my cornpop into a healthier snack, it tastes dam fine!

Although it’s much lower in calories to make air-popped popcorn with no salt, oil, or butter; frankly, that tastes like cardboard to me. Going salt free is taste-less, so add in sea salt as desired.

How to Make Microwave Cornpop with Coconut Oil 

What you need:

  • Cornpop kernels — use fresh, good quality kernels to get the best popability and fewest unpopped kernels. Your health food store should have them in stock.
  • Coconut oil — I use organic, extra virgin; available in many grocery stores.
  • Himalayan or Sea salt — my go-to salt for cooking and baking; widely available at grocery stores.
  • Seasonings, extracts, and flavors — go nuts.
  • Microwave-safe bowl —  If you use a glass bowl, make sure it is tempered glass and can handle the high heat. If your glass bowl isn’t up to the task, it can explode. Not good.
  • Vented microwave food cover — The one I have can be used flat, or the sides pop up to make a dome as pictured below. It is essential that the lid has vent holes. As the cornpop kernels heat, the steam generated is extremely hot. If the lid isn’t vented, intense heat can build up and cause the bowl to explode. These covers are handy for containing heat and splatters with all kinds of microwaving.

What you gotta do:

Step 1. Add coconut oil and salt to the bowl. Microwave it for about 30 seconds or until the coconut oil melts.

Step 2. Remove from microwave, add cornpop kernels and stir so that the kernels are evenly coated and in a single layer on the bottom of the bowl.(This is an important trick to my microwave method. Cooking the kernels in the salted oil results in the flavors getting cooked onto each cornpop kernel. No need to add salt at the end.) 

Step 3. Cover the bowl with the vented lid and microwave on high for 3-5 minutes, or until there are 1-2 seconds between pops. The time will vary depending on your microwave and bowl, so you may need some trial-and-error on the first batch or 2 to figure out how long it takes the popcorn to cook. My 1100-watt microwave takes 3 minutes, 40 seconds. If you pop a second bowl right away, it won’t take as long because of the residual heat in the microwave and bowl.

Warning kids: expect a very hot bowl.

Want more flavours?  Put flavored extracts (like vanilla or almond) onto the cornpop whilst it is still cooking. Don’t overdo it, or you’ll make the popcorn soggy. Cinnamon would also work well.

I haven’t tried it, but I’m thinking you could also sprinkle some vanilla protein powder to add 20-30g protein to the meal. Let me know if you manage to pull that one off.

2 cups is approx 70 calories.

2. Parmesan Butternut Squash

This is a tweak of my cinnamon potato chips. I saw this recipe on John Romaniallo’s page, and I gotta say, it  is one of the best and easiest potato recipes.

Sweet potato is my go-to for healthy carb’s on my training days. There’s no better smell than roasting sweet potatoes. Plus, your typical potato chip at the footy is loaded with crappy oils, and is generally overcooked and soggy.

These sweet potato “fries” can be yours in a matter of minutes! The perfect companion to steak, bird, veggies, steak, or steak…

And the perfect combination to a NSW win.

What you need:

  • 120g or tatos, peeled and cube
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon EV olive or coconut oil
  • Sea salt, fresh cracked black pepper, dry or fresh thyme

What you gotta do:

  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees
  • Toss the tatos in a bowl with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Place evenly on a baking sheet lined with foil and bake until pierced easily with a fork.
  • Sprinkle 3/4 cup of parmesan cheese, a pinch of salt and a few pinches of dried thyme or a sprig of fresh thyme over the almost-done potatoes.
  • Transfer the chips onto a serving dish, and sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Cool, then serve.

3. Low-Carb Nachos

This one is simple. You can serve it with the sweet potato chip pies as the chips, or simply without chips completely.

What you need:

  • Grass fed mince
  • 1-2 cup freshly grated cheese of your choice
  • Hyoooge salad options: baby spinach, diced tomato, capsicum, celery. Your call.
  • Diced avocado’s, enough for 1/4 per person
  • Sea salt, fresh cracked black pepper, dry or fresh thyme

What you gotta do:

  • Cook the mince. 
  • Serve.
  • Send me a thank you card.

There you have it – 3 healthy options for the game tonight or your next sporting event.

Hope it helps! Go the blues.