By Jerry Del Priore
Daina Falk has been immersed in sports practically her whole life. It was commonplace for her to attend sporting events and be around professional athletes, as her father, David, is a pioneering and renowned sports agent, representing athletes the likes of former New York Knick great Patrick Ewing.
So, it wasn’t a surprise when Falk, who studied the culinary arts while living in Florence, Italy and Paris, France, followed in her dad’s sports footsteps. Combining her two passions, Falk created the Hungry Fan® brand, merging food and sports fan culture.
Falk’s widely popular Fangating™ idiom morphed into the Hungry Fan™ platform, which incorporates everything from food and drink to information relating to sports culture and traditions. It also offers product recommendations and tips for a passionate game day enjoyment for sports enthusiasts everywhere.
Hungry Fan’s approach to curating game day for all sports fans is to propose expert solutions for every facet of the experience—whether frenetic fans are celebrating at home, tailgating in a parking lot, at the game, or at a sports bar.
“I am helping sports fans have a great game day,” Falk, 33, said. “There was nobody in that space. It was so genuine of who I am and how I grew up.”
Falk’s popularity grew under her Hungry Fan™ platform, evident by social media presence in which she currently reaches an audience of approximately 125,000 active participants, that her publisher asked her to write a book.
The outcome: The Hungry Fan’s® Game Day Cookbook, which hit bookshelves and online stores in August of 2016. The book includes 165 recipes, mostly her own, but some of which she collected from professional athletes and Olympians, such as LeBron James, Boomer Esiason, Michael Jordan and Andre Agassi.
While tailgating and game day foods aren’t exactly healthy, Falk—who lost 60 pounds several years ago, which she says she maintains through a healthy lifestyle—has tackled the dilemma with simple recommendations and ingredient substitutions in the book that are waistline-friendlier.
“I think a big part of it is portion control,” the Manhattan resident explained, who played on the Women’s Club Tennis Team at Duke University. “If you’re like me, you eat healthy six days a week. There’s nothing wrong with allowing yourself to have a cheeseburger. Plus, allow yourself to have what you want, but keep portion control in mind.”
More importantly, though, Falk offers up simple suggestions on making game day fare healthier, like replacing sour cream with low-fat Greek yogurt, and adding just a splash of olive oil to improve its taste and consistency. In addition, she says use a 100 percent whole wheat bun on your burger instead of the white bread variety.
Here are a few recipes (health and not-as-healthy food) from The Hungry Fan’s® Game Day Cookbook:
Bacon Hummus (Makes about 1 3⁄4 cups)
8 strips bacon
1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
5 ice cubes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 crushed cloves garlic
1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Brown the bacon in a large skillet over medium-low for 15 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel–lined plate, and reserve the drippings in the skillet.
- Purée the bacon and its drippings in a food processor until smooth, not grainy (or as minimally grainy as possible). Alternatively, purée 6 slices, and reserve 2 for garnish. Add the chickpeas, and blend well, adding in 1 ice cube at a time. (This helps to make it creamy.)
- Add the oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper, and blend again until smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl, and crumble the remaining 2 slices of bacon over the top.
Black Bean Salsa (Contributor: Mark Schlereth; Makes about 3 cups)
This is Mark’s black bean salsa recipe, which he recommends you serve with his Green Chile Eggs Benedict.
1 (14-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup Homemade Salsa (see below)
1⁄4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice and zest of 1 lime
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine the black beans, salsa, cilantro, and lime juice, and zest ingredients in a bowl. Season with the salt and pepper, and stir well.