Concert venues and sports arenas aren't known for their healthy food vendors, but that’s all about to change. Barclays Center — home to the Brooklyn Nets and New York Islanders — is now selling Weight Watchers-approved foods curated by "Iron Chef" Cat Cora. The Mississippi native grew up in a Greek household, so it’s only fitting that she created a Mediterranean-inspired menu. And it’s all affordable! The highest-ticket item is just $13.
Starting October 4, the somewhat awkwardly-named WW Freestyle Café: BKLYN will feature a Mediterranean Buddha bowl, sesame lamb meatballs, a zucchini falafel bowl, baked jalapeño poppers, grilled street corn, and a toasted pistachio brownie bite — all of which align with the new health and wellness focus of the Oprah- and DJ Khaled-endorsed program, which recently changed its official name to WW to de-emphasize weight loss as a goal.
“Mediterranean cuisine is one of the healthiest eating plans on the earth,” the 51-year-old Cora told The Daily Meal. “Great olive oils, fresh fish, lean meats and fresh fruits and vegetables that have bright, vibrant colors. There’s so much flexibility in what you’re creating with Mediterranean because it spans across several countries and brings a lot of wonderful flavors and foods to people that they won’t expect.”
But why Barclays? According to a Weight Watchers rep, the complex has the second largest ticket base in the country and the fifth largest in the world. It also hosts a wide selection of sporting competitions, concerts and family events, and both Weight Watchers and chef Cora think it’s important for kids to adopt the same healthy-eating habits as their parents.
One Daily Meal editor was able to sample select items before the café’s official launch. She really liked the jalapeño poppers (except they were actually shishito peppers) because instead of being stuffed with cream cheese, they’re filled with the perfect mixture of feta and plain yogurt. Plus, they’re not fried! They’re baked with a coating of toasty bread crumbs. This version tastes so much better than the former, and it doesn’t make you feel like a dumpster fire after eating it.
The grilled street corn was also really good. Instead of using queso or mayo and sour cream, Cora implements plain yogurt, lime juice and sea salt topped with chili powder and cilantro — all of which are zero SmartPoints, meaning if you’re following the Weight Watchers diet, you don’t have to track these foods as part of your daily intake.
What exactly are SmartPoints? Every food and drink is assigned a number based on calories, sugar, saturated fat and protein content. People following the program are assigned a daily allowance of points depending on their personal health goals, and they can keep track of them in the Weight Watchers app. Cora and her wife, Nicole Ehrlich, are each allotted 23 SmartPoints per day.
There are 200 zero-point foods that you don’t have to track or measure including fish, skinless chicken breast, turkey breast, tofu, beans, lentils corn, non-fat Greek yogurt, berries, eggs and more. If you don’t use all of your “dailies,” they roll over to the next day up to four days, which means you can save them for an indulgent weekend, wedding or vacation. This all sounds too good to be true, but a company spokesperson claims the system is scientifically backed — unlike these old-school diet tips your parents probably tried.