Wordless Wednesday: Sweet and sour
Produce of the month: Strawberries

In search of healthy food at new Marlins Park

If you know me, you know I'm a big baseball fan and we go to a lot of Marlins games (as well as games wherever we happen to be on vacation).

And I don't take the day off when it comes to eating healthfully. (Besides, hotdogs are a nightmare of fat and preservatives.)

Last night was opening night at the new Marlins Park. The team's old park, which it shared with the Miami Dolphins, was too big and too built for football so the new park is much better for watching the game.

And the food choices are better, too. At Sun Life Stadium, the only healthy choices were a grilled chicken sandwich, a sad, overpriced chicken salad, and the occasional veggie burger, when they could dig 'em out of the freezer and heat one up.

We had a lot of time to kill before Wednesday night's game, so I scouted out the cleaner, healthier dining options at the park. Here it is in pictures (taken with my phone so I apologize for the quality of some of 'em).

This is the first time I've seen a gluten-free concession at a sports stadium but I'm sure it's a growing trend, now that people are avoiding or cutting down on wheat and gluten. The prices are comparable with other concession stands at the park (ie: high), and there's a decent selection of entrees, desserts and even gluten-free beer. The chia chocolate muffin sounds promising.

Marlinspark_kidshackI like this idea: Kid-size portions of traditional ballpark food. Not only is it smart for little ones, it might be a good idea if you don't care to stuff yourself.

Among the healthy snacks are a fruit cup and a veggie and hummus cup.

These Kids Shacks are scattered throughout the park.









Marlinspark_miamimexsign Marlinspark_miamimexsign Marlinspark_miamimexsign

I decided to try the food at Miami Mex, which also has multiple locations throughout the stadium. I snapped the menu, above, to show the selections and prices (ballpark food ain't cheap, y'all).

At left are the grilled mahi mahi tacos, which come in a pair of flour tortillas. They were flavorful and loaded with colorful vegetables, which are hard to come by at sports events.

The tacos were good sized and had just a drizzle of the vinaigrette and aioli so the fat content wasn't out of control.

Below them was a very costly side of guacamole and chips, given the size of the guac cup. For $7 I thought I'd get enough guac to share with my family but it was probably a quarter cup at most. It was fresh and fairly tasty, but would have used a little more zip from citrus or peppers. When the concession worker saw my nonplussed face, she gave me some consolation salsa, which was excellent. The chips were plentiful but I could do without the red dye.

In addition, there's a kosher concession stand that offers cheeseburgers made with soy cheese, a kiosk that has fruit smoothies and juices and a frozen yogurt place at street level just outside the park. Some of the Cuban places offer rice and beans but it wasn't clear whether those choices were vegan (chicken stock often is used in the preparation). I also spied a shrimp burger but I haven't investigated what goes into it. Shrimp is a fantastic protein choice, but if it's held together with breadcrumbs and mayonnaise it's not worth the calories.

Next time I may hit up the Kids Shack for some hummus and veggies and bypass the $7 guacamole.

And what can you do if you want to bring your own food? Ballpark rules allow you to bring in a factory-sealed water bottle no bigger than 20 ounces and a single-serve food item in a clear plastic bag. And any fruit must be sliced (to avoid the errant apple being chucked on the field, I guess).

Calorie counts? They're not listed at the park, so the cleaner the food is, the easier it'll be to figure that stuff out.