Meet Daina Falk. A celebrity chef, who coined the term, fangating, Daina is known by the name of her brand “The Hungry Fan.” Her blog famously curates everything the sport’s fan needs for the ultimate game-day experience whether tailgating or homegating. In her brand new cookbook entitled, The Hungry Fan’s Game Day Cookbook: 165 Recipes for Eating, Drinking & Watching Sports, Daina shares her fresh takes on fan favorite eats for game-day munching.
Daina grew up around sports her entire life (her dad is David Falk, a pioneer of the sports agent industry) and has played tennis for the Duke Women’s Tennis Club Team. At Duke Daina honed in on her love for food and art. She studied both subjects in Florence and Paris and embraced European food and culture. But upon her return, Daina became aware that her favorite recipes needed adjustments as her heavy sports playing days had passed. She went on a healthy journey through food and lost over 60 pounds. This included not only tweaking her favorite every-day eats, but those beloved game-day dishes. Game day food might be tasty, but sometimes the ingredients aren’t too loving on our bodies.
We’ve caught up with Daina to learn more about her cookbook and healthy spins on “fanfood,” as she calls it.
Interview with Daina Falk, of Hungry Fan
Anna Curran: What inspired you to become the Queen of Fangating?
Daina Falk: I grew up around sports. It’s been in blood since, quite literally, the womb. While I’ve had the opportunity to experience and understand sports from a lot of different perspectives (such as from the team’s perspective, the agent’s perspective, the athlete’s perspective, etc.), my favorite way to experience a game is as a sports fan, among sports fans. After having taken some cooking classes in Italy and France while in college, I got really into food. And I ultimately found myself most at home tailgating and homegating, or collectively, as I call them, fangating, on game day. Given that I’m not alone in my passion for fangating, I felt it would make sense to launch a platform to create a community for people like me. Thus was born my brand, Hungry Fan and my concept of fangating.
Anna Curran: What are some expert tips for beginners who want to healthify their favorite game-day dishes?
Daina Falk: Simple substitutions go a very long way. Ditch the sour cream (or even mayo) in favor of Greek yogurt. (And if you miss the texture of mayo, just add a tiny splash of extra virgin olive oil, which is super rich in healthy and nutritious monounsaturated fat. The oil will make the yogurt resemble mayo). Choose baby spinach or baby kale over lettuce. Lettuce is nearly entirely water and devoid of a lot of nutrients, whereas spinach and kale are packed with goodness. And if you can, avoid anything with high fructose corn syrup. Natural sugar—or even honey and agave—are much, much better for you.
Anna Curran: What is your favorite trick to cut the calories on heavy game day dishes?
Daina Falk:Aside from enjoying Greek yogurt, which is totally your friend on game day (if you’re trying to eliminate calorically-dense foods like sour cream and mayonnaise), I try to user leaner meats, such as bison, in lieu of fattier beef cuts, if not leaner proteins such as chicken or turkey. But the thing to remember is this: it’s far easier to eat healthy 6 days a week and treat game day as your cheat day. That’s not to say you should go ahead and eat 12 hamburgers on game day. But it is to say that if you’re craving that cheeseburger, eat it! Just remember that it’s cheat day and you’ve hit your burger quota for the week!
Anna Curran: What’s different about preparing for a tailgate vs a homegate party?
Daina Falk: Other than having to configure your car, truck, SUV or RV to fit all your gear, food, and coolers—and making good use of tupperware and other items that help transport food and keep food fresh/cold/hot (as you would have to when tailgating), not a whole heck of a lot. I treat tailgating and homegating as interchangeable. The traditions are the same. It doesn’t really matter where you are.
Anna Curran: What’s are the the top tailgating recipe? Homegating?
Daina Falk: Totally impossible to answer this question! There are SO many factors to take into account. Here’s what I will say: I like to do at least two recipes on game day—one for each team. And in doing so, I like to celebrate the culinary traditions and culture of each team and its respective home town. There are so many awesome food cultures that you’ll find as you travel across our gigantic country. It’s so much fun to use game day as a way to celebrate and enjoy them.
Looking for some healthy game day inspiration? Check out some of Daina’s recipes on Cookbook Create!
Recipes from Daina Falk, Hungry Fan
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