What to Eat at the Stadium
Enjoy opening day (or the whole season!) without letting concession-stand snacks declare open season on your waistline.
Stadium fare has grown a bit since the days of peanuts and Cracker Jacks. Sports arenas have heard the cry for more nutritious food options and stepped up to the plate. At Milwaukee's Miller Park they're serving soy burgers, and at New York's Citi Field you can get anything from fresh fish to pulled pork.
But sometimes you just want some classic stadium fare, and when your friend is eating a foot-long hot dog in the seat next to you, it's tough to choose the mixed greens salad. "It's silly to tell people not to have a hot dog at a ball game," says David Grotto, RD, LDN, and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. "Go ahead and eat those foods, but go in with a game plan."
Here's how the players on the menu score:
Cracker Jacks: An 1/2 cup serving of this sweet-salty classic runs 3 PointsPlus® values and contains protein-packed nuts, making it one of the smarter options if you're craving something sweet.
Grilled chicken sandwich: For a change of pace, swap your burger for a grilled chicken sandwich. An average grilled chicken sandwich will only cost you around 10 PointsPlus values. Hamburgers without garnishes can run you anywhere from 7 to 13 PointsPlus values.
Hot dog: A regular hot dog with mustard is 7 PointsPlus values. Yellow mustard is a better topping choice than sugar-laden relish or ketchup. Sauerkraut has 0 PointsPlus values per serving, says Grotto.
Nachos: A 4-ounce serving (that's six to eight cheese nachos) will cost you 9 PointsPlus values; substitute salsa for the cheese and you'll tip the scales down a little.
Roasted peanuts: Raw and roasted peanuts, with or without shells, are both a filling and vitamin-packed snack. But don't go overboard; at 12 PointsPlus values for half a cup of dry roasted unsalted peanuts you don't want to start mindlessly crunching. "A big bag of peanuts is meant for sharing," says Grotto. "Stick with just a few handfuls."
Soft pretzel: At 11 PointsPlus values for the 5-ounce, supersize soft pretzel, you may as well go for a hot dog. "There aren't a whole lot of nutrients in the pretzels," says Grotto, pointing out that the lack of nutrients and fiber put it as a once-in-a-while choice.
Popcorn: Although popcorn is generally a good snack choice — 5 cups of 94% fat-free microwaved popcorn is only 3 PointsPlus values — stadium popcorn is the enemy in disguise, says Grotto. "When people think popcorn, they think of a light snack, but even if you opt for plain concession-stand popcorn, it has been popped in oil that is filled with 'bad cholesterol'-raising trans-fats."
French fries: You know they're no smart pick, but you might be surprised at just how costly they can be. A 6-ounce bag of fries can use up to 12 PointsPlus values.
Chicken tenders: "Remember that tenders are just fried chicken," says Grotto. They may look little, but a three-piece box of Nathan's Chicken Tenders is 14 PointsPlus values.
Chicken Caesar wrap: Seems like a healthy choice? Think again. At 16 PointsPlus values, the fatty dressing and cheese in a 6-inch Caesar wrap makes it an expensive grab. If choices are limited and the alternatives are worse, cut it in half and share it.