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GO ORANGE: An Ode to Syracuse Basketball (and the Perfect Game Day Menu)

'Cuse fans have been feeling citrusy and sweet all week long. On Sunday, March 20, 2016, Syracuse basketball led a 75-50 win against Middle Tennessee, securing the team a spot in the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16. I, along with every other Orange man and woman, couldn't be happier.

As a class of '15 SU alumni, I wear my pride loud and proud, forever and always "Bleeding Orange." My 'Cuse flag hangs high in my cube and Cooking Light's Editor Hunter Lewis is always giving me trouble for it. He's a UNC fan. (I go easy on him because it could be worse... At least he doesn't support Duke.)

But I digress. As you would expect, my university days were not my healthiest. On game day, it's common to find students getting crunk at Castle Court, double-fisting bottles of André. (Classy, huh?) And if Cuse scores 70 points at any home game, ticket holders can take their stubs to any Taco Bell restaurant for free tacos! #TACOTIME

Since graduating last year, I've adapted a much healthier lifestyle with the help of my friends at Cooking Light, and I'd like to share the love. Now, on game day, I choose foods that satisfy without unwanted calories, like Mac and Cheese Bites and Garlic-Buffalo Drumettes. But since citrus season is coming to an end and because we're celebrating 'Cuse basketball, all the recipes you'll find here are made with oranges. This post is clearly for you on your 26th birthday, Otto! (Yes, outsiders. Our mascot is in fact an orange.) 

Syracuse will play Gonzaga on Friday in Chicago, and you need the perfect light and healthy citrus recipes to celebrate the team's anticipated victory. I'm here to help.

Orange and Cinnamon-Dusted Donut HolesDonut holes should be warm and doughy and coated in sugar. This gluten-free version is just that—and more.

Citrusy Gin and Blood Orange Punch: Ditch the keg of PBR and settle for a more sophisticated sip. If the word "punch" makes you think of old-fashioned, too-sweet concoctions, this drink will be a revelation.

Grilled Flank Steak with Chipotle-Orange Mojo: 'Cuse students love ending a game with#TACOTIME. Opt for this homemade version with fresh cilantro leaves, orange juice, and glorious bold-flavored spices.

Blood Orange and White Chocolate Cream CupsThis sweet, tangy, and creamy dessert makes the perfect two-bite finale, and best of all, clean up is a breeze! The beauty of finger food is that there are no utensils and few plates–so there's very little to wash once everyone has left and the post-party work begins. You can make the cups up to a day ahead.

Orange and Avocado Salsa | Photo: John Autry

Orange and Avocado SalsaServe this salsa with chips, or spoon it atop sautéed chicken breast or fish. If you want to make the salsa ahead, omit the cilantro and avocado, and stir them in just before serving.

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