Strolling on the boardwalk is a favorite pastime of summer — along with the games and entertainment, there are loads of tasty (and indulgent) foods that can tempt even the healthiest eater. But there’s no need to feel deprived or guilty about your summertime favorites: You can eat all of the foods you love with a little planning and sharing with others. And this doesn’t mean swapping an ice cream cone for a cup of watermelon! Here are seven tasty treats to choose — and seven to lose.
Best boardwalk snacks
Choose: 3 small churros (around 300 calories)
Lose: A funnel cake (around 600 calories)
When you’re looking for the sweet-fat combination a pastry delivers, stick with the churros for the same satisfaction with half the calories. Or share the funnel cake with one or two people.
Choose: 3 cups caramel corn (around 200 calories)
Lose: Large soft pretzel (around 500 calories)
Eat the caramel corn kernels one by one instead of by the handful to make the serving last longer. The crunch is always very satisfying. A soft pretzel is equal to about five slices of bread, so if you still want one, make sure to share with at least one other person.
Best hot foods on the boardwalk
Choose: Large corn dog (around 460 calories)
Lose: Italian sausage and pepper sandwich (around 850 calories)
While the corn dog is fried, the sandwich is stuffed with fatty meat and will likely have up to double the serving size of the corn dog. And that’s where all of the extra fat and calories come from. Sharing is always an option.
Choose: Small plate of fried clams (around 400 calories)
Lose: Personal pan plain pizza (around 650 calories)
While the clams are fried, the total calories of the pizza are one-third higher because of the cheese and crust. A fried choice is not always the highest in calories — serving size matters.
Best boardwalk side dishes
Choose: Small french fries (around 230 calories)
Lose: Small onion rings (around 320 calories)
Potatoes and onions are both vegetables, but for the same size serving, you’ll save about 100 calories choosing the french fries. Most often, the onions are also batter-dipped, which adds to the calorie count.
Best boardwalk drinks
Choose: large frozen lemonade (around 430 calories)
Lose: Medium vanilla milkshake (around 670 calories)
While the serving size is larger for the lemonade (20 ounces), the mixture of water, sugar and lemon is fat free, which trims calories by about 30 percent compared to a medium (16 ounce) milkshake. Both sizes can be perfect to share, since a standard drink serving size should be 8 to 10 ounces!
Best candy on the boardwalk
Choose: Large cotton candy (around 220 calories)
Lose: Large red candy apple (around 400 calories)
Cotton candy looks like a giant serving, but it’s really spun sugar whipped up with a lot of added air. In other words, it provides a lot of volume with moderate calories. It’s also perfect for sharing. While there is an apple underneath the hard candy shell, there’s a lot more sugar added to the candy apple than the cotton candy.
Madelyn Fernstrom, Ph.D is NBC News Health and Nutrition Editor. Follow her on Twitter @drfernstrom.