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Slimmer Pickings at the Park

By Bonny Wolf
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The good news: Peanuts are high in protein and fiber. The bad news: an eight-ounce bag of salted-in-the-shell nuts is 1,280 calories. Ditto for Cracker Jack (420 calories in a 3.5-ounce bag).

So what do you do if you want to eat healthfully at the game but don't want to cheer Ryan Zimmerman with baby carrots? You grab a Miller Lite and burn off some calories in search of alternatives to the deep-fat fryer. There are options.

HOME RUN
Spicy turkey chili $6
On the Fly
Half Street corridor

Outside food had to be smuggled into RFK. Not here. So stop at the lime-colored, bug-shaped cart with wings outside the stadium entrance and pick up a generous "ecotainer" of sweet, spicy turkey chili. They also sell a nice vegetable taco on a soft flour tortilla with cabbage, zucchini, onion, beans and fresh cilantro, served with a lime wedge and squirt of crema ($3, two for $5).

HIT
Maryland crab soup $7
Greek salad $7
Dupont Deli
Section 227

Crab soup is usually a good, low-fat choice, but this version was a bit thin, full of potatoes and only microscopic bits of crab. They tried. They just couldn't hit it out of the park. The Greek salad comes prepared and shrink-wrapped, like an airport salad. But it is very pleasant: fresh leaf lettuce, feta cheese, olives, cherry tomatoes, red onions and shaved carrots with a container of herb vinaigrette.

HIT
Gluten-free pretzel $6
Noah's Pretzels
Section 105

These are named for the owner's autistic son, and a percentage of the proceeds goes to fight autism. Toward that end, gluten-free, casein-free pretzels are sold. (Gluten may increase the severity of autism.) This is the go-to food for anyone with food allergies since the pretzel is made in a facility free from wheat, dairy, fish, shellfish, egg, soy, sesame, peanuts or tree nuts. It was a bit taste-free, too, however.

ERROR
Veggie or chicken burrito $9
Capitol Cantina
Section 130

Either of these might be fine, but there was so much confusion putting one together it's hard to say. They start with a whole wheat or guacamole tortilla, add a spoonful of sauteed onions and peppers and then build, according to taste, from ingredient bins: olives, jalapeños, pickles, cheese, sour cream and nice-looking pieces of cooked chicken. The result bore no resemblance to the order, however.

HIT
Veggie taco $8
Capitol Cantina
Section 130

Unlike the burrito, the taco here was just fine. Hard corn taco shells are filled with refried beans, salsa, lettuce, tomato, olives and guacamole.

ERROR
Crab cake $12.50
Grilled chicken sandwich $7
Foggy Bottom Diner
Gallery level

Some time in the minors might help here. The crab cake was mushy and mostly filler, while the grilled chicken sandwich was a slab of dry white meat with a slightly rubbery consistency.

HIT
Veggie burger $6.50
Change Up Chicken
Sections 135, 203

This hamburger-shaped soy burger was steamed with onions and peppers, quickly heated on the grill and served in a nice kaiser roll. It was, well, a veggie burger.

ERROR
Veggie dog $5.25
Change Up Chicken
Sections 135, 203

A veggie dog is probably always a mistake. But hope springs eternal. This one, made of soy protein, wasn't any better or worse than most, which means it wasn't good: For one thing, the synthetic casing just doesn't give you the right hot dog snap when you bite into it.

ERROR
Vegetarian chili $7
Ben's Chili Bowl
Section 109

The venerable institution had the longest lines in the place. The half-smokes piled with cheese and chili may be great, but the vegetarian chili was watery and bland.

HOME RUN
Honest Tea $5
All concession stands

This local company's tea is being advertised as aggressively as Budweiser. It's not all hype. This stuff is really good. Pomegranate white, lemon black and citrus green energy teas were available.

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