Nutritionists say trips to the ballpark don't need to be fattening
Opening day at PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. (Submitted photo / April 6, 2012)
"Baseball stadiums around the country are offering healthier concession options ranging from vegetable soup to roasted turkey legs to sushi," said nutritionist Elaine Magee, a columnist who writes for MedicineNet.com. "It doesn't have to be all about hot dogs anymore."
Robin Lukas, registered dietitian at Somerset Hospital, said people must still be cautious and not assume that because they are eating something like a salad that it is healthy.
"Not all salads are created equal," Lukas said. "If you start adding things like bacon bits and mayonnaise-based dressings, you can make that salad have as many calories as a burger and fries. Don't assume it is healthy."
Lukas is pleased that many ballparks are making an effort to offer more healthful concession options. The standards like hot dogs and french fries are still available, she said, but it is nice to see that there is room on the menu for other things.
Baseball fans who attend any of the 81 home games at PNC Park this year have an opportunity to try sushi, meatball mania and mini pierogies, Terry Rodgers, a spokesman for the Pittsburgh Pirates, said in an email. Levy Restaurants handles the food for the park's premium seating. ARAMARK is the general concessionaire. ARAMARK has a new round of healthier options, including a selection of gluten-free food plus grilled vegetables with a balsamic reduction, a grape tomato and mozzarella salad and other vegetarian offerings.
"The idea was to appeal not only to the folks who have celiac disease or are vegetarian, but also people who want to eat healthier," Rodgers said.
And you don't have to eat healthy all the time. It is perfectly fine to occasionally eat a hot dog, Lukas said.
"Enjoy the atmosphere of the ballpark and tradition and eat a hot dog, if you only go to a ballgame every once in a while," she said. "But if you go on a regular basis, then mix it up. Eat a hot dog at one game and eat healthy at the next."
It is also good that ballparks are offering a variety for people who have illnesses or allergies to foods, Lukas said. Too many times people attend an event and find out that there is nothing safe for them to eat.
The Pirates wanted to keep the traditional items, such as hot dogs, but to venture out and try new things, Rodgers said. Here are some of the available foods:
Levy Restaurants is serving:
* Meatball Mania, a skewer of six meatballs;
* Italian meatball panini;
* Open-faced beef brisket stack;
* Roasted turkey flatbread sandwiches;
* Pulled pork;
* Thai chili burger.
* Bucco Nacho: a line of nachos;
* General Robinson Grill: signature footlong hot dogs, burgers and fries.
* Sweet Spot Express: Cold Cow hard ice cream, soft-serve ice cream and milkshakes.
* Just4U: healthy options including gluten-free foods, salads and fresh fruit cups.
* Nakama Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar: sushi, sashimi, egg rolls and hibachi foods.
* Chickie's & Pete's: crabfries.
The Pirates have added the Budweiser Bowtie Bar. The area overlooks the playing field on one side and the Allegheny River and downtown Pittsburgh skyline on the other, with a U-shaped bar in the middle. People may buy draft and craft beers, mixed drinks, frozen drinks, wine and food.