Forget the food fest! Check out the health coach-approved guide to eating your way through the MN state fair the healthy way.
I don’t know about you, but I am super excited for the grand opening of the MN state fair
which runs August 25 through September 5. At the same time, I am a little bit sad, because this grand event ushers in the end of summer and the beginning of school season.
You probably have seen the commercials with kids stuffing funnel cakes or cookies in their face or adults gleefully gnoshing on beer and ribs. The MN state fair is infamous for their food on a stick, and for deep-frying food that has never before graced a fryer (candy bars, anyone?). Kinda hard to stick to your health guns when there is so much decadent deliciousness around.
Most folks abandon their health goals for the two-week duration of the Fair, and say “You only live once.” Not you, not this year.
Because now you have a health coach approved guide to eating your way through the MN State Fair the healthy way! I also am including State Fair map locations, so you can easily get to your favorite foods and plan your day.
By the way, there are plenty of cool things to do at the fair that have NOTHING to do with eating. Here are 5 of them.
- Yoga– This year celebrates the Great Yoga Get-Together at Carousel Park on Sunday, September 4. During this day of flexibility and fun, you can try different styles of yoga led by experienced instructors, as well as benefit from prize drawings and giveaways by local yoga studios.
- Rides– One of our family traditions is to go down the giant slide. Yes, both of my girls have even gone down in tandem with my husband and I since they were barely a year old. Not to mention, your teens are most likely gone every night gossiping and hitting the carnival rides.
- Free and Fee Concerts– This year, I am actually taking my daughter to see our first concert at the Grandstand. Yes, we are going to see Lovato/Jonas rock the stage! I can’t wait!
- Farm animals– If you can handle flying hair and fur, enjoy visiting the animals or the god-awful Miracle of Birth center. I say “god-awful”, because the last thing I want to do is witness some poor creature trying to bring her offspring into the world amidst hundreds of spectators and a camera up her rump. I have been on the upper end of this process, and have no desire to witness it from the back end.
- Art– My most beloved thing to do at the MN State Fair is appreciate the awesome creativity displayed in the art building. As someone who has been to the Louvre and other creative hot-spots internationally, there is still something special about MN-grown talent. Did I mention my daughter is an awesomely talented artist? Don’t tell her- I will probably submit some of her work one of these years.
By the way, if you want to check out some amazing art, check out my friend Debra Fisher Goldstein’s exhibit www.BeyondTheStick.com, which is a photographic look at the ironic, the iconic, the peculiar, and the poignant moments of our great Minnesota State Fair.
All of these things are fun things to do. However, I understand that the entire point of going to the Fair is to EAT, EAT and EAT some more! At one point in my life, I used to eat until I was physically uncomfortable and needed to open the button on my pants.
Um, keep your clothes on, folks. I have ordered these healthier fair foods conveniently in term of how I walk my clients through meal planning. Start with the protein, add healthy fats, and finish with some carbs. Easy-peasy, lemon squeezy.Get your health-coach approved guide to eating your way through the #MNstatefair the #healthy way… Click To Tweet
Start with the Protein
I loathe any sort of shelled sea creatures, but shrimp is one of the few foods that my Bengali husband and tween daughter BOTH love. Plus, seafood is a great source of protein, with lots of healthy Omegas that land creatures lack. Here are the top picks for fishy proteins, and where to find them.
Cajun Peel N Eat shrimp (new for 2016!)
- Café Caribe (M-27)
Lemon garlic shrimp
- The Shrimp Shack ((R-27)
- Giggles Campfire Grill (T-12)
Luckily, most foods on a stick are full of protein. That doesn’t mean you should order every darn thing that has been fried to within an inch of its life. Grilling or smoking are both great methods of preparation for meat, to save on some of that nasty oil that packs on pounds.
The State Fair is a great time to try meats that you can’t find at your local Cub foods, like alligator, elk, or ostrich. As long as it’s grilled and isn’t completely slathered in sugary sauces, you are good to go!
Turkey legs, pork chop on a stick
- Carousel BBQ (K-25)
- Chan’s Chicken on a Stick (Q-30)
- Giggles Campfire Grill (T-12)
- Minnekabob (S-24)
Not into eating beasts?
That doesn’t give you an excuse to make a beeline for the deep-fried cheese curds. As a side note, I finally tried those blasted puddles of grease one random year at the fair. Before you think I’m hating on cheese- know that I am a legit cheese head who grew up in the land of dairy, Wisconsin. Cheese is my love language. However, I had to throw away the greasy bucket of deep-fried cheese that I tried.
However, I love a bit of global flair. This year, the Fair is debuting a more international version of a cheese curd. This will DEF be on my list of must-try foods, even though it may not be on my list of healthy foods.
Paneer on a spear
- International Bazaar (U-31)
By the way, if you have never tried paneer, it’s a mild white cheese with a texture similar to tofu. Don’t worry- it’s isn’t as bland as tofu, and is tasty with the right sauce.
Add some Healthy Fats
It has been proven- Fat does not make you fat! Need more proof, check out what Dr. Mark Hyman has to say about getting thin by eating more fat. I don’t respect every guru that pops out of the woodwork, but I can say that Mr. Hyman (rather a contradiction in terms, eh?) is right on the money.
So, there are plenty of opportunities for you to indulge in extremely UNHEALTHY fats at the fair. A la trans-fats, deep-frying fats and butter galore.
There are also opportunities for healthier fats, like nuts and olives. Don’t believe me? Check out these two. By the way, I’m not averse to sweetened and roasted nuts, but stick to plain, salted varieties to keep your sugar rush under control. If all else fails, pack your own snack mix and choose one of the proteins above to enjoy.
Cinnamon Roasted Nuts
- International Bazaar (V-31)
Olives on a stick (not the deep-fried kind)
- St Martin’s Olives (U-31)
Eat more Veggies
Think the Fair is a great reason to skimp on your veggies? Think again!
By the way, I’m not even talking about the deep-fried veggies. The Fair probably thought it was being inclusive when it unveiled their attempt at veggies in their food frenzy. Yes, deep-fried veggies are delicious (especially cauliflower), but rather defeat the purpose . Not to worry- there are still ways to enjoy your veggies that won’t make you bloat like a balloon.
BBQ Baked Potato (Just go light on over-the-top toppings)
- Food Building (Map U-26)
Buckwheat Yaki-Soba noodles with veggies
- International Bazaar (U-31)
Potato Man and Sweetie (mashed sweet potatoes on a stick)
- Liggett (J-27)
Pickle on a stick
- Pickle Dog (K-27)
*Meat-eaters can sample the brand-new Reuben pickle dog for a low-carb treat with some green
A Sweet Finish
Move over, sweet Martha! One of the biggest benefits of the fair is NOT a tub of melty chocolate chip cookies. Instead, it is the bonus of having many fresh fruits available to you that are perfectly ripe and delicious. Or, re-imagined in ways that are won’t give you diabetes. Whether you like your fruit cold or hot, dipped in chocolate or covered in cream, here are some great gluten-free and lower-sugar options.
Frozen Grapes (a great one for kids!)
- Bayou Bobs (P-24)
Fruit Kabob (dipped in chocolate)
- Caribbean Smoothies (J-28)
Frozen cider pop
- Minnesota Apples- Agriculture building (T-28)
Pina Colada treet (dairy free- made with coconut milk)
- Food Building (S-26)
Strawberries ‘n’ Crème
- Randall Ave (R-16)
Back in 2013, I shared some of my favorite guilt-free foods to eat at the Fair, and this last one has been a long-standing family tradition for the Goswamis. We patiently wait in line listening to music at the Giggles Campire Grill while Mr. Henry tips his fedora’d head over a steaming kettle of fresh corn with a hint of sugar.
Fill that puppy up, because the corn keeps for several days (unless you get to it first!)
- Henry’s Kettle Korn (T-14)
There you have it, folks. My health coach-approved guide to eating your way through the MN state fair the healthy way! If you would like to learn more about how I help folks like you make smarter food choices every day (not just for special events), enter your email to learn about my powerful new program, Release.