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Game day snack ideas – Healthy and easy game day snacks

Game day snack ideas - Healthy and easy game day snacks

Following up on our last piece, where we discussed what to eat with dark rum, our latest journey tackles the specific path of game day snack ideas, snack pairings for when hosting game nights! The world has come back together to watch live matches and team up in the “other board room” so we need larger format game day snacks recipes and easy preparation to pair. Perhaps it’s poker night, DnD eve or you’re hosting lawn games with the neighbors? You need snacks. Perhaps you’re watching the latest grand slam in tennis, your favorite baseball team, football, basketball or soccer match? Sometimes you just prefer to stay at home and watch with your crew without the stadium noise. Traditionally, of course, easy football game day snacks have included ordering hot wings from your local spot, (spiking the BBQ sauce with a little rum for the adults), and laying out the usual crudité accompaniment to assuage the greasy meat guilt. Hey. No judgment here. After all, when seeking out ideas for game day snacks, healthy is not a word that rises to the occasion. However, today we bring you other ideas in hopes of achieving the new level status of Best Game Day Snacks.

What makes a great game day snack?

As far as the food spectrum exhibits, game day snacks are on the far end with gourmet dining on the distant other.

Utensils? Minimal if any.

Possibly taking the place of dinner but not too destructive? Exactly what we are going for. The specific characteristics of a great snack are multi-fold. They can best be described with some sort of combination of the following terms:

          1. Crunchy
          2. Salty
          3. Savory
          4. Sweet
          5. Satisfying


Of utmost importance, game day snacks need to provide enough sustenance to absorb the cocktail or alcoholic beverage of choice. Additionally, they should be shareable, not too messy and easily refillable. Ideally there should also be options, usually something salty and crunchy but also something a little sweeter. 

Consider why we love pizza. Not only is it salty, savory, juicy, sometimes crunchy, but the bottom absorbs grease and provides an easy sandwich-like hold so your hands don’t get too messy. It also comes in its own disposable box. That’s a positive for sure.

Now let’s conjure some ideas with these attributes in mind that won’t fully destroy your health goals you may or may not recall setting back in the dawn of the new year. Naturally, the following recipe ideas will also pair well with dark rum. Speaking of which…

What is the best dark rum to pair with game day snacks?

Dos Maderas 5+3 is an amber rum that exhibits elegant aromas of rich pecan, pepper, vanilla and a touch of smoky oak followed by a palate of more ripe fruit, vibrant tropical spices. The 5+3 is ideal for your savory mixed nuts, trail mixes, toast pairings, ceviche dishes, fresh fruit and cheese pairings. 

Not to be dismissed, the Dos Maderas 5+5 displays a darker hue gained from its extra time in richer PX casks and has attributes of fig, raisins, dates alongside a darker tobacco note with chocolate, treacle and nuts. The 5+5 pairs extremely well with a grilled steak but also matches wonderfully with snacks including tropical fruits, dried fruits, smokier cheeses, chocolate and more.

Both labels also mix well in a range of cocktails from Highballs, Daiquiris & Rum Runners to Old Fashioneds, Negronis & Espresso Martinis. Check out our cocktail recipes to get further inspired!

5 Healthy game day snacks that pair well with dark rum

Recipe 1: Mixed nuts drizzled with Honey and Smoked Paprika

Not only are daily nuts rations excellent for heart health, but spicing up a bowl of mixed varieties is next level snack pairing. As in our previous food pairing piece, in which we added za’atar to caramel popcorn, this honey and smoked paprika combination is also super satisfying. Add whatever blend of nuts you can find and then follow these super easy steps using an oven. The hint of honey and smoky savory aspects of the smoked paprika are the easy adds to this recipe shared by Try the following and pair with either the 5+3 or 5+5 rums:

      • In a large bowl, melt 2 Tbsp. of butter.
      • Add 2 Tbsp. of honey and 1 tsp. of smoked paprika and mix.
      • Add 1/2 cup each of pecans, almonds, pistachios, macadamias and cashews.
      • Spread on a parchment sheet on top of a baking pan and sprinkle a pinch of sea salt.
      • Bake in your oven for 25 minutes at 300 F. 
      • Let cool.

Recipe 2 Ceviche made with ocean fish or shrimp

While ceviche doesn’t typically spring to mind for most folks watching sports, the ease of preparation (no heated cooking involved) and the ability to prepare a large sharable bowl to serve with tortilla chips or mini tostadas is ideal for multiple hosting situations. Preparation does require a little extra time to let the citrus juices marinate the fish so start this one on the early side so it can be ready when guests arrive. Also, Dos Maderas 5+3 is a natural pairing in many forms: neat, over ice, in a rum punch, etc. The breakdown posted by has wonderful tips about timing and fish selections. Try preparing all the following:

      • Ocean fish – like snapper or sea bass (into cubes)
      • Limes, freshly juiced by cutting in half (4-6 limes)
      • Red onion, thinly sliced and halved
      • Cherry tomatoes, sliced
      • Cucumber, sliced and quartered
      • Fresh Cilantro, chopped
      • Jalapeno Peppers, sliced
      • Avocado, cubed (but only right before service)
      • Radishes, sliced


        1. Slice up a red onion, add to a large bowl and add salt and lime juice.
        2. Add cubed fish and all your ingredients except avocado.
        3. Refrigerate 45 minutes to an hour.
        4. When ready to serve, add avocado.

Recipe 3 Grilled Chicken Kimchi Sliders

We’re not sure when tiny sandwiches became a thing, but they are still going strong as far as one can tell. They may even be time immemorial as far as I can gather. The key attribute, of course, is their bite-size-ness. Sure, if you have more than a couple, it becomes a meal but just one will technically still qualify as a snack. Also, if you don’t already know, pickled & fermented bites pair really well with stronger drinks like whiskey and rum. Try one of these sliders with a pour of 5+3. You can also sub in bread and butter pickles if you can’t find quality kimchi at the store.

      • ⅓ cup oil olive oil 
      • ¼ cup cider vinegar
      • 2 Tbsp Dos Maderas 5+3 rum
      • 3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
      • 2 Tbsp dijon mustard
      • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
      • 2 Tbsp dried thyme, rosemary
      • 1 Tbsp Kosher salt 
      • 1 Tbsp pepper
      • 1 tsp garlic powder
      • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts


        1. Tenderize the chicken breasts by pounding them to about ½ inch thickness.
        2. Combine all ingredients into a sealable bag or container and let the chicken marinate for 30 minutes to 3 hours.
        3. Grill marinated chicken for about 7-8 minutes on each side at medium heat.
        4. Let sit for five minutes and then slice.
        5. Lightly toast bread buns on the grill for just a touch of char.
        6. Build a slider with a light spread of mayo, a slice of chicken, a few kimchi leaves, and a few leaves of greens like spinach.

Recipe 4 Cheesy Baked Mushroom Dip

What’s a party without a dip? Likely, still a party, but we came across this to-die-for recipe from and had to share it here because enjoying this creamy mushroom dip with a Dos Maderas Old Fashioned is a joyful and enriching experience you should allow into your inner circle. Pick up the following ingredients:

        • 1 lb fresh mushrooms, pick your favorites 
        • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
        • 1 shallot, peeled and minced
        • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
        • 2 Tbsp Sherry, (amontillado or oloroso)
        • 6 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
        • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
        • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
        • 1/2 cup sour cream (or coconut cream)
        • Sodium citrate, salt & pepper for taste
        • baguette


          1. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
          2. Start by cleaning & chopping up mushrooms and drying them over middle heat in a skillet.
          3. Remove, set aside and add butter, shallot, garlic to the same pan to saute. At the finish, add the sherry as a deglaze and then combine with mushrooms.
          4. Combine mayo, sour cream, cheeses, salt, pepper & sodium citrate in a separate bowl and mix well then combine with mushrooms and mix until fairly even.
          5. Bake for about 25 minutes and garnish with fresh thyme leaves for service.
          6. Service with sliced baguette.

Recipe 5 Chili Lime Grilled Pineapple Spears

Perhaps you’ve got the grill going? Is outside entertaining the option and perhaps you want something you can quickly prepare and let sit? Here’s a not-so-secret tip when it comes to fruit pairing with aged rums: pineapples will never let you down. The key is to be sure to either pick a ripe pineapple or give it time to ripen where it starts to yellow and smell a bit sweet on the bottom. We love the spice combination achieved here from Steps are fairly simple:

          1. Cut pineapple into spears
          2. Create a spice blend mixing chili powder, chaat masala and salt into a bowl
          3. Cut limes into half-wedges
          4. Spray down your grill and cook both sides of spears about 2-3 minutes
          5. Let folks dip limes into the spice and rub on the pineapple
          6. Optional: Serve with toothpicks or skewers

5 Non-cook game day snacks that pair well with dark rum

If cooking, or extra steps are not in the cards due to time constraints or for whatever last minute chaotic reasons you may have, try these 5 ideas which require little preparation but are still excellent for when pairing with rums neat, over ice or with a diverse range of cocktails.

Recipe 1 Tropical Fruit Trail Mix

Here, you can likely purchase all of the ingredients required in the same grocery aisle so that’s an extra positive note. Simply combine everything in relatively equal portions in one large bowl and serve. You can mix this up way in advance, or just in very large quantities because it will store in plastic sealable containers in your pantry allowing you the option to revisit as often as needed. 

      • 1 cup roasted almonds
      • 1 cup cashews, raw, roasted and salted
      • 1 cup raw walnut pieces
      • ½ cup dried cherries
      • ½ cup raisins
      • 1 ¼ cup dried banana chips
      • 1 cup dried pineapple chunks
      • 1 cup toasted Coconut
      • ¾ cup dark chocolate chips or chunks

Recipe 2 Manchego Green Apple & Honey

Sometimes the simple trio cheese bite is the answer to all our time constraints and last minute prayers for inspiration. Keep it simple with an easy cheese course! Spanish Manchego really loves the sherry cask treatment in the Dos Maderas rums so the creamy bite with crisp fruit is pure bliss with the 5+3. You can also sub in a blue cheese if that’s your preference and try it with the 5+5. All you need is a serving platter or a large cutting board. Slice your cheese and apples and serve with or without toothpicks. Serve with a small honey bowl on the side for folks to drizzle as needed. 

        • Sliced manchego
        • Sliced green apple (or dried apricots)
        • Honey in a separate bowl

Recipe 3 Charcuterie Board with Pickles

Provided you aren’t curing your own meats, the time to prepare this spread should be pretty minimal. Consider grabbing a selection of cured items and serving them with crackers, cornichons, pickled carrots and dijon mustard. Meats with some spice in particular have great affinity with pours of the Dos Maderas 5+5.

        • Bresaola – Dry-cured salted lean beef 
        • Coppa – Spice-rubbed dry-cured pork 
        • Genoa – A popular salami with a peppery side 
        • Guanciale – Cured, dried spice-rubbed fatty pork cheeks.
        • Chorizo – Fatty pork sausage seasoned with pimentón (hot paprika), garlic and salt.
        • ‘Nduja – Spreadable fermented pork sausage heavily spiced with chili peppers

Recipe 4 Fresh Fruit and Cream

Just as strawberries and cream are one of life’s beautiful dynamic duos, it turns out a fresh fruit platter with a side of freshly whipped cream is just as simple and delicious as it sounds. Rum loves tropical fruit but has also been known to associate with stone fruits like apples, pears, peaches and plums as well all sorts of berries. Pick up whatever is in season and ripe, chop up and serve on a large platter. Key step: Grab fresh mint for folks as well. A bite of fruit with a piece of mint is pure delight. 

Recipe 5 Chocolate Coconut Cashew Fig Bars

These chewy coconut and fig bars from are a non-bake recipe and do not require much time at all, advertised as a mere three step process. They do however require a food processor and a quick melting of chocolate in the microwave. Pair them with 5+5 neat or over ice

      • 1 ¼ cup dried unsulphured figs or about 5-6 ounces (stems cut off)
      • 1 ½ cups raw cashews
      • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (plus extra for topping)
      • dash of sea salt (¼ teaspoon)
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      • ⅓ to ⅔ cup or more of dark chocolate or vegan dark chocolate chips to melt
      • optional toppings – extra chocolate chip, coconut, sea salt, fig, etc.


        1. Line a baking pan with parchment and remove the fig stems.
        2. Add all ingredients (except chocolate) to your food processor and blend, then place and mold into your pan.
        3. Melt chocolate and spread over top.
        4. Let cool. 
        5. Optionally, add extra sliced ingredients for presentation. 
        6. Slice up into bars.

Vegetarian game day snacks that pair well with dark rum

Eating a more predominant vegetarian regimen has proven much friendlier to the environment both outside and inside one’s gut it seems. Try these predominantly vegan recipes and you may even be able to recruit more folks to the “greener side” when you host your next game night. In addition to the above mentioned Mixed nuts drizzled with Honey and Smoked Paprika, Cheesy Mushroom Dip and fruit preparations, try these three uniquely satisfying snacks designed with the veggie-minded.

Recipe 1 Smokey Honey Hummus on toast

The accent of smoke and honey to this delicious recipe from make it a perfect pairing for the Dos Maderas 5+3. Try it with a pour of Dos Maderas 5+3 on the rocks or in a highball with your choice of tamarind soda or ginger beer. The crunch comes from the toast and the blend in hummus includes chick peas, tahini, smoked paprika, garlic, honey, lemon oil, salt and olive oil. You can also add crushed nuts on top as well for extra nutty and crunchy vibes. It’s super easy to prepare and requires only a toaster. No toaster? You can easily warm some pita in a microwave or pick up some carrots, fresh crunchy yellow peppers or green apple slices. Add the following ingredients to your food processor and puree making sure to slowly add olive oil at the end:

        • 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed, skins removed
        • 1/3 cup tahini
        • 2 cloves garlic
        • 1 lemon, for juicing
        • 1/2 tsp salt
        • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
        • 3 tbsp raw honey
        • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus more as needed

Recipe 2 Dolmas or Stuffed Grape Leaves

Dolmas offer an entire range of variations in recipes. You can have them stuffed with ground meat like beef or pork or you can have them completely meat free like the following recipe from They have a bit of acid and a natural almost creamy texture without the addition of any cream. If you’ve never tried a sip of Dos Maderas 5+5 alongside this vegan recipe, you are in for a surprising treat. Serve with toothpicks to ease up on the oily mess and enjoy!

      • 8 ounces fresh or preserved (jarred) grape leaves
      • 1 cup onions, grated
      • 1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped
      • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
      • 2 tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
      • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
      • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
      • 1/2 cup dry white rice
      • 1/2 tsp salt
      • 1/2 tsp pepper
      • 2 cups water
      • 2 tbsp. olive oil


        1. Rinse the grape leaves. If using fresh grape leaves, after rinsing, boil them in water with salt for 5 minutes.
        2. Mix the onions, dill, parsley, mint, olive oil, lemon juice, rice, salt and pepper in a bowl.
        3. Lay out each individual grape leaf and place a spoonful of the onion rice mixture on the grape leaf and wrap the grape leaf. Place layers of stuffed grape leaves in a large pot. Add two cups of water and 2 tablespoons of olive oil with a little salt. Cover stuffed grape leaves with a plate and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes.
        4. Drain and serve with or without a side of yogurt or sour cream.

Recipe 3 Snickers Stuffed Dates

Don’t let the name of these delectable treats distract you from their healthier qualities. Designed to emulate the popular candy bar, this stuffed medjool date recipe borrowed from is bite size and decadent without the extreme guilt. Feel free to add your own guilt by serving them with a delicious neat pour of Dos Maderas 5+5 alongside or in an Espresso Martini.

      • 10 medjool dates
      • 2 Tablespoons peanut butter
      • ¼ cup chopped or crushed peanuts
      • ½ cup dairy-free dark chocolate chunks or chocolate chips
      • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
      • ¼ cup sea salt


        1. Cut a slit in date, remove pit and stuff with ½ tsp. peanut butter.
        2. Sprinkle it with crushed peanuts.
        3. Melt your chocolate in a microwave or over a stove top with your coconut oil.
        4. Place toothpick in date and dip in chocolate, let set on parchment.
        5. Sprinkle sea salt and let dry.


Author:  Chantal Tseng, DC Bar-Somm

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