Drop the chili dog at your next trip to one of the local stadiums. There are plenty of healthy food options, as long as you know where to look. Photographs courtesy of Flickr users M Glasgow and Miss Chatter
Every time football season rolls around, it brings along a seemingly unavoidable glut of Monday night chicken wings, nachos, and beer. But this year, getting back on the gridiron doesn’t have to mean making bad food choices. Here are your healthiest dining options at FedEx Field, Nats Park, and the Verizon Center.
While no outside food is permitted at FedEx Field, the stadium is offering seasonal, more-nutritious options at both of its Caesar’s Vineyard locations (sections 123 and 340).
Nick Biello, regional vice president of Centerplate, the stadium’s concessionaire, says he recognizes the developing market for healthier foods at sports venues. Improved options available this season include vegetarian-friendly snacks like fresh strawberry salad (seasonal), fruit and cheese plates, hummus with pretzel chips, veggie wraps, and Greek salads.
Food allergies will be also be taken more seriously, Biello says. For example, gluten-free food will be packaged in sealed containers to avoid contamination. The concession stand will also offer its first gluten-free beer this year.
Though the Verizon Center received some flak for its concession stands’ lack of cleanliness in 2009, the venue has since made some major improvements. These days, various healthier food options are available in sections 108 and 102.
Verizon offers vegetarian options, including tomato-and-mozzarella sandwiches on ciabatta bread; vegan wraps with whole-grain rice, beans, avocado, lettuce, and tomatoes; and seasonal kosher sandwiches.
Gluten-free snacks and beer can be found in section 108, and gluten-free sandwiches and wraps will be available soon, says Erin Noss of Aramark, one of the center’s food distribution partners.
If you’re craving healthier hot food while at a Caps game (sadly, a Wizards season is looking less likely by the day), check out the turkey sausage sandwich in section 107 or one of the various seasonal soups in section 108.
The Nats season may be over, but next year will bring even more healthy upgrades to the ballpark’s dining choices, such as grilled vegetable wraps at Healthy Plate, veggie burgers at South Capitol Grill, and fruit cups at Dupont Deli. A more detailed list of guilt-free snacks is available through the stadium’s Web site.
For those with dietary restrictions, there are a number of gluten-free items to munch on, including soft pretzels from Curly W. Levy Restaurants, which partners with the Nationals. The company has expanded its gluten-free menu at the park this year to include hot dogs with Kinnikinnick buns, nachos, caramel and cheddar popcorn, organic pumpkin seeds, and fruit-and-nut bars. Gluten-free folks can enjoy a cold beer during a game, too: Redbridge beer, which is wheat- and barley-free, was sold at concession stands for the first time this year.
Vegetarians also have plenty of options. Though it may not be the healthiest choice, meat-free chili is available at Ben’s Chili Bowl. Various concession stands offer veggie burgers on their menus. Dupont Deli carries grilled cheese sandwiches and veggie chopped salads. At Flippin’ Pizza, pie lovers can go for either the traditional cheese topping or the tomato-and-basil pizza. And Kosher Grill offers falafel.