Move over, hot dogs and beer, and say hello to veggie dogs and smoothies.
Even as churro dogs, bacon cotton candy and fried s'mOreos are making headlines, healthier fare, including for vegan and gluten-free diets, is gaining favor at ballparks, especially in New York.
"At the old Yankee Stadium, the hot dog was the featured menu item," said Dan Smith, president of Legends Hospitality, which has provided the food, beverage and merchandising at Yankee Stadium since the new stadium opened in 2009. "Now, we probably sell half as many hot dogs per person than we did at the old stadium because people are now migrating to more of these healthier options."
Beyond foot longs and Bud Light, visitors to Yankee Stadium can choose from non-fat frozen yogurt, tofu noodle bowls and a turkey burger from a gluten-free cart. Over at Citi Field, smoothies, vegan pizza and veggie burgers and hot dogs are just some of the healthy offerings. Both stadiums also have a farmers market of fresh fruit.
"More and more, what we're getting back from our consumer research is the guests want more healthy offerings at the ballparks and it just can't be one stand in some obscure location of the park, where you sell one or two items," Smith said. "It needs to be a very robust program that's spread throughout the venue."
Patrick Schaeffer, the executive chef at Citi Field, has noticed sustainable food trends trickle into stadiums.
"The way the food trends are going, everybody's a little more mindful of where it comes from," Schaeffer said. "A lot of thought goes into sourcing quality ingredients, seasonality is taken into play and where we purchase from."
Citi Field, for instance, sources all of its meat from Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors, known for its humane treatment of animals and natural quality of meat.
"Some people have a preconceived notion of what they're going to get when they go to a stadium, but I think people who don't keep up with culinary trends are pleasantly surprised," Schaeffer said. "We want everyone to be able to come to the ballpark and enjoy themselves, whether they choose to have a couple of hot dogs and beer or fresh fruit from our fruit carts or a veggie burger."
"Going to a baseball game doesn't mean you have to sabotage your diet," says Tracy Lockwood, a registered dietitian in New York. "[You can] keep your waistline in check without jeopardizing big flavors."
If you're at Citi Field, "veer toward the World's Fare Market where you can choose sushi, salad and even some fresh fruit from the fruit stand," Lockwood suggests.
And at Yankee Stadium, "smoothie options are great because they can maintain your level of hydration, but make sure it includes some veggies such as kale or spinach as the base to keep your blood sugar levels steady throughout the game," Lockwood says.
"Or you can stick to the basics at Triple Play and order the grilled chicken and veggie burger for some lean protein," she adds.
For healthier ballpark fare at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium, here are some suggestions and where to find them:
-Veggie roll from Daruma of Tokyo, inside the World’s Fare Market on the Field Level concourse and in the Caesars Club behind home plate on the Excelsior Level
-Plainville Farms Turkey Burger on a Rudi’s gluten-free bun from Hain Celestial Gluten Free & Organic Stand, inside the World’s Fare Market on the Field Level concourse
-Yves Good Veggie Burgers and Yves Good Veggie Dogs, multiple locations
-Fresh fruit from Melissa’s Fresh Fruit Cart, inside the World’s Fare Market on the Field Level concourse and in the Caesars Club behind home plate on the Excelsior Level
-V for Vegan Slice (artichokes, shiitake mushrooms, red onions, pesto and Daiya non-dairy cheese) from Two Boots, multiple locations including Taste of the City, the Caesars Club and adjacent to stand 335 on the Excelsior Level, and in the Promenade Level Food Court behind home plate
-Vegetable Pozole Tacos and Green Mole Chicken Salad from El Verano Taqueria, in Taste of the City beyond centerfield on the Field Level concourse
-Mama’s of Corona Garden Salad, fruit salad and chicken salad from Mama’s of Corona, in the World’s Fare Market on the Field Level concourse
-Grilled chicken sandwich from Blue Smoke — On the Road, in Taste of the City beyond centerfield on the Field Level concourse
-Non-fat frozen yogurt from Sweet Frog, Section 224
-Turkey burger from the Gluten Free Cart, near the Great Hall
-Grilled chicken sandwich from 115 Triple Play, 205 Triple Play and 334 Triple Play stands
-Smoothies from the Delta Sky 360 Suite
-Veggie burger from Triple Play Grill, Sections 115, 205 and 334
-Fresh fruit and Clean Snax (Chia and flaxseed) from Melissa’s Farmers Market, Section 121B
-Eggplant and roasted peppers vegetarian sandwich and mixed green salad from Boar’s Head, Section 112
-Assorted sushi from the Delta Sky 360 Suite
-Eggplant and fresh mozzarella from Parm, Section 105
-Tofu noodle bowls at Noodle Bowl, Section 127
A day at the ballpark can quickly wreak havoc on your diet. We asked Tracy Lockwood, a registered dietitian in New York City, for some tips on navigating the typical stadium fare.
“Whether they are choosing concession stand items or off the menu, people should look for keywords like grilled instead of fried, roasted instead of breaded and avoid food selections that use descriptive language such as smothered, coated, drenched, lathered and battered as it is usually referring to something rather calorically dense and laden with fat.”
“You can’t go wrong with dry-roasted and unsalted peanuts! According to Journal of Food and Nutrition Sciences, peanuts could lower cholesterol and promote heart health by lowering the risk for heart disease. Although peanuts may be referred to as the poor man’s protein, research shows peanut consumption may even keep weight gain at bay. Go for the unsalted or dry-roasted peanuts instead of salted or oil roasted peanuts.”
“Always ask for whole wheat roll and buns when you can for some belly filling fiber to maintain your energy levels throughout the game.”
On the side
“Whenever you can, ask for mayo, dressing and sauces on the side so you hold the power of how much you want on your food.”
“Don’t forget to stay adequately hydrated. Opt for 2-4 cups of water throughout the game and adjust as necessary based on the temperature.”