The 20 healthiest ballpark eats
Back in the day, eating smart at the stadium meant asking the vendor to hold the chili cheese on your foot-long.
Times have changed. Now more baseball venues are rolling out waistline-friendly fare.
"Our surveys showed people wanted healthier options, something different than cheesesteaks and hot dogs," said Chrissy Flanigan, who oversees concessionaire Aramark's food and beverage operations at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pa. With its new nutrition-focused Philly Fresh stand, this park leads the pack of baseball stadiums expanding past nachos and Cracker Jacks to cater to fans who don't want to look like umpires. "We're looking forward to seeing how Philly Fresh takes off with the fans this year," Flanigan said.
From the American League East to the National League West, here are the ballparks hitting home runs when it comes to healthy game-day grub.
Ballpark: Fenway Park, Boston Red Sox
Best bets: Vegetarian pizza; sushi
Nutritionist's take: "Vegetarian pizza will be topped with lower-calorie toppings than the meat version and likely lower in fat," said Molly Morgan, RD, CDN, the owner of upstate New York's Creative Nutrition Solutions and the author of "The Skinny Rules." Sushi is generally a healthy choice, Morgan said. Opt for rolls with added veggies and slow down on the dipping sauces, as they're usually high in sodium. "Steer clear of the fried rolls or ones with high-calorie fillers like cream cheese."
Ballpark: Citi Field, New York Mets
Best bets: Vegetable roll and edamame at Daruma of Tokyo in the World's Fare Market; whole-wheat pizza at Cascarino's.
Nutritionist's take: "Assuming the vegetable roll isn't fried, this meal provides protein and fiber to help keep you full," said Morgan, who is also a consultant for the NHL's Ottawa Senators. "Just a quarter cup of edamame has about 11 grams of protein and nine grams of fiber." And the whole-wheat pizza is another good get. "Whole-wheat provides fiber to help your heart, plus keep you full."
Ballpark: Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia Phillies
Best bets: Grilled chipotle chicken wrap; Shanghai chicken salad; both options available at the Philly Fresh stand.
Nutritionist's take: "Both incorporate lean protein [with the grilled chicken], dark leafy greens and colorful vegetables. Plus, they are flavored with low-fat dressing," Morgan said.
Ballpark: Rogers Centre, Toronto Blue Jays
Best bets: Veggie lemongrass noodle box; Mediterranean platter (featuring hummus, tabouleh, olives and flatbread).
Nutritionist's take: Morgan likes the lemongrass noodle dish since it's often lower in calories and fat than many ballpark options. "But it's not a good choice for the carb-conscious," she said. "Rice noodles have about 45 grams of carbs per cup." Go with the Mediterranean platter instead. You'll have all the fiber and healthy fats working in your favor. "Plus, the hummus is full of flavor," she said.
Ballpark: Wrigley Field, Chicago Cubs
Best bets: Chop salad; grilled chicken sandwich (served on a whole-wheat bun with lettuce and tomato).
Nutritionist's take: "The chop salad is great -- a variety of colorful veggies and protein-packed garbanzo beans." Ask for dressing on the side to keep the portion down, Morgan said. "The grilled chicken sandwich is also a smart option, especially if you skip any extra sauce options."
Ballpark: U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago White Sox
Best bets: Veggie cup with hummus (fresh carrots, celery, jicama, cucumber and radishes, served with house-made hummus); fruta cup (a mix of seasonal fruit served with a lime wedge and chili lime salt).
Nutritionist's take: "I love that the hummus and veggie cup comes with an impressive assortment of veggies for dipping," Morgan said. "The fruit cup is especially worth mentioning because of the variety." One tip: Skip the special chili salt. Who needs the added sodium? Use the lime wedge instead to add some refreshing zest to things.
Ballpark: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City Royals
Best bets: Fresh made-to-order salad; vegetarian burrito bowl.
Nutritionist's take: Morgan's advice with the salad is simple: go for color. With the burrito nix the shell and you've saved yourself 300-plus calories (depending on the size). "The burrito bowl works because it's likely filled with fresh veggies, salsa and beans," she said. And for toppings, she says, go easy on higher-fat options like sour cream and cheese.
Ballpark: Coors Field, Colorado Rockies
Best bets: Fresh made-to-order Salad; MLB's first gluten-free concession stand, featuring hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, chips, cookies, brownies, soda and gluten-free Redbridge beer.
Nutritionist's take: Although gluten-free options are great for people with allergies or intolerances to gluten, it doesn't necessarily mean light in calories or fat, Morgan said. If you're going with gluten-free, the best bet is the chicken sandwich. See if you can get some veggies to top it, too. "It's an easy way to sneak in extra vitamins," she said.
Ballpark: Angel Stadium, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Best bets: California grill Panini (grilled chicken breast with bacon, red peppers and gouda); grilled vegetable Panini (zucchini, carrot, mushroom and tomato with a pesto sauce).
Nutritionist's take: "The grilled vegetable Panini is a great choice because of the variety of vegetables. And the California Panini is smart because of the grilled chicken breast," Morgan said. Curb calories on both by going light on sauces and cheese.
Ballpark: Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles Dodgers
Best bets: Arugula salad; ranchero-style fruit salad (similar to U.S. Cellular's fruta cup).
Nutritionist's take: These options are scoring some serious healthy points, Morgan said. "Most impressive! I love the arugula salad's walnuts for heart-healthy fats and the antioxidant burst from the pomegranate seeds."