'Tis the season for tailgating! What better time to build a better tailgate with nutritional trade-ups and simple swaps. Add food fun and team spirit to your next tailgating event without sacrificing any of the crowd favorites. From better beverages to healthier sides, make your next tailgating event nutritious and delicious. Now that's worth celebrating!

Cheers for better beverages

Calorie-free beverages are your best bet for healthier tailgating. Using calorie-free mixers such as water or club soda will make delicious drinks that everyone will celebrate. This Spirited Spritzer recipe is sure to be a new crowd favorite:

n Combine 4 cut limes, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 liter club soda, 1 cup berry-flavored vodka and 2 cups of your favorite berries in a pitcher. Enjoy over ice.

Look for lighter alternatives

Looking for lower-calorie alternatives to traditional tailgating favorites is a great way to cut a few calories. Think beyond burgers and brats for alternatives that will help add variety and excitement to your next tailgating celebration.

n Consider chicken brats, ground turkey or vegetarian burgers for something new and nutritional.

n Use low-calorie condiments like ketchup and mustard for flavor.

n Make it a wholesome meal with whole grain buns. Higher fiber content will help you feel full longer.

Explore the healthier side

Get creative and think outside the box with nutritious and delicious tailgating sides. Incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables in a variety of team colors for food fun. Consider simple substitutions in your favorite recipes for big nutritional benefits that everyone will be a fan of.

n Try substituting low-fat mayonnaise or sour cream in traditional recipes.

n Non-fat Greek yogurt will add protein-packed goodness to potato or macaroni salad when used in place of mayonnaise.

n Fruits and vegetables are high-fiber fillers that will add flavor without fat to your favorite sides. Add more fruits and vegetables whenever possible.

Macaroni Salad

Serves 12 (about 1 cup each)

All you need:

3 cups whole-wheat elbow noodles (14- to 16-ounce package)

3/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise

3/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon celery seed

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

3 stalks celery, finely chopped

3 carrots, shredded

1 small Vidalia or other sweet onion, finely chopped

1 cup chopped baby spinach

3/4 cup frozen edamame, thawed

Additional salt and pepper, if needed

1/3 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese

All you do:

1. Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water until tender, 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions. Drain. Transfer to a large bowl to cool for at least 15 minutes.

2. Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, sugar, salt, celery seed and pepper in a small bowl.

3. When the noodles have cooled, add celery, carrots, onion, spinach, edamame and the mayonnaise mixture; stir well to combine.

4. Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if desired. Sprinkle with cheese just before serving.

To make ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Nutrition information per serving: 190 calories, 7 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 13 mg cholesterol, 28 g carbohydrate, 1g sugar, 7 g protein, 3 g fiber, 366 mg sodium, 215 mg potassium.

Tracey Shaffer, RD, LD, is a Hy-Vee dietitian at the Blue Springs location The information provided should not be construed as professional medical advice. Email her at tshaffer@hy-vee.com.