Oh Rodeo food, you’re so tempting with your fried cheesecake balls, pies from little Texas towns and chicken-fried bacon. If you are headed to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and don’t want to bust your diet, there are some healthier choices available. This isn’t to say they are healthy, but they better options than corn dogs and French fries.
The main thing to remember when at a ballpark or anywhere where healthy options are limited is to keep it simple and add some color, if possible. Stay away from anything fried, limit your alcohol consumption, choose leaner meats, and skip the bread. If it’s necessary to add something fatty, try something like like guacamole, cheese or rice and beans.
Here are a few tips to help health-ify your trip this year:
Baked potatoes: We saw these at every booth where BBQ was offered. Order a plain spud and add cheese and one meat (turkey, chicken, beef, or bacon). Pass on the sour cream and butter, and add salsa from a neighboring booth. The potatoes are gigantic and will not leave you hungry, especially if you add a meat.
Grilled chicken sandwich: If you’re a frequent meat-eater, there isn’t anything wrong with a beef sandwich. Just remember to watch portion sizes and expect them to give you more than you need. Pick a lean option like chicken or turkey, and eat one slice of bread. Add lettuce and tomatoes and regular pickles, not fried. Share a cup of corn, but don’t cover it in butter and cheese.
Freebirds Burrito Bowls: This is basically an open burrito. Freebirds lets you build your bowl with choices of chicken, steak, pork or veggies like red and green bell peppers and onions. Skip the meat and add black beans and cheese for good protein plus fat, or choose one meat and then vegetables plus one fat (guacamole or cheese). It also comes with a choice of spinach, wheat, or white tortilla.
Which Wich: A lean turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato and pickle is a great choice. We found their booth inside the livestock show arena, new this year with 10 sandwich choices. They are also offering PB&J sandwich for kids. I'd eat that!
Berryhill: This is a new addition to the Rodeo food choices this year. With fish tacos, tamales, and chicken tacos, you could easily make good choices here. Pick your own taco combo and add plenty of lettuce and tomatoes.
For desserts, there aren’t light options, unless Dippin’ Dots counts, so either exercise willpower by not choosing any, take the “all in moderation” approach and have a few bites, or bring your own stash of Andes mints, Girl Scout Cookies or M&Ms from home to satisfy the need for something sweet. The gatekeepers only check purses when you go into Reliant Stadium, not to get into the fair grounds.
A trip to the Rodeo is about having fun, celebrating Texas heritage and rodeo traditions, and watching great talent perform. If you want to leave feeling good about your food choices, too, remember lean proteins and vegetables combos are as close to healthy fair food as you’re going to get.