July 2009 Issue
Touching All the Culinary Bases
Healthy eating isn’t exactly a foreign concept at Ohio ballparks, stadiums and arenas. You can pick up a vegetarian hot dog at the Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, for example, or a smoothie and grilled-chicken sandwich at Ohio Stadium and Nationwide Arena in Columbus.
Any nutritionist worth his or her unwanted salt, however, will tell you that names and appearances can be deceiving: Depending on how that snack is prepared, it can be loaded with enough fat, sugar and calories to render it downright unhealthy.
But the Cleveland Indians and Cleveland Clinic have taken the guesswork out of the fan dining experience. This season, Progressive Field unveiled a lineup of Go! Foods brand selections developed by Cleveland Clinic administrative executive chef Jim Perko that comply with the venerable medical institution’s per-serving standards. All are made with 100-percent whole-grains (if applicable) and contain absolutely no trans fat, less than 4 grams saturated fat, less than 4 grams added sugars and syrups, and no more than 600 milligrams sodium.
Perko believes the offerings “will transform the way people eat at events.” Glen White, spokesman for Buffalo-based Sportservice Corp., which oversees food-service operations at approximately 40 sports venues in the U.S. (including Progressive Field), agrees. He notes that they are “a notch above” what he’s seen — the only ones he knows of developed by a medical facility.
According to Progressive Field executive chef James Major, the items are being introduced slowly. At the new healthy concession stand near Section 162, fans can expect to pick up a bowl of greens topped with chicken salad
Veronique, a tasty variant containing walnuts and grapes in a dressing of Dijon mustard and a mayonnaise substitute, and raw vegetable cups that come with roasted red-pepper hummus or guacamole for dipping.
Suite-holders can order a Go! Foods package that includes smoked-salmon sliders, grilled chicken fingers with an Asian barbecue sauce, vegan stuffed mushrooms, and deceptively decadent “Dive into the Dark Side” chocolate bars (a treat that may eventually show up at the concession stand). Baked sweet-potato “fries” have made an appearance in the Terrace Club restaurant, a side that will be joined by an apple, pear and jicama Waldorf salad.
Major adds that he has developed dishes of his own that meet the aforementioned Clinic guidelines — for example, a seared peppercorn-encrusted tuna and escolar grilled and baked with julienne vegetables in cedar paper.
“There are some things that are healthier but not within the Cleveland Clinic range,” he admits. The whole-wheat wrap he uses to make the roasted-veggie and turkey wraps sold at the concession stand, for example, exceeds the standard for added-sugar content. “But they’re a better alternative than a hot dog.”