Bring on the fair!
The month of July is always an exciting one for me—I’m outside for 99% of my runs, my pool job is in full swing on the weekends, fresh summer produce will be coming out of our ears, and the Jefferson County Fair will be in town.
Some of my friends and coworkers have already started asking me the biggest question of summer—“Are you excited to get your cheese curds at the fair?” Every time I am asked, I feel I actively have to slow my heart rate and pull down my mood because I get so excited thinking about it, and I don’t want to scare the person with my enthusiasm.
Many of you may be thinking, “Uhhh, cheese curds don’t exactly fit with the health and wellness-y job title you hold” and you’re exactly right. The truth is I get cheese curds once a year at the Jefferson Fair, and I make sure to make them count. The other days of the fair, I am always on the hunt for otherwise considered “healthier” options.
It can be challenging to find food that is nourishing, satisfying and not fried in grease while at a county fair, or to say no altogether. Here are some of my tips, suggestions, and my best finds throughout the years:
- Corn on the cob. This one is almost a no-brainer, with corn being a vegetable AND fun to eat. Just be careful with the extra butter (better yet say “no thanks” to the giant vat of butter” and salt that you can put on. Enjoy the sweetness of summer without the added guilt.
- Baked potato. This has become my staple for many fairs, and is very satisfying and filling. I usually ask for “light” amounts of cheese and sour cream, and will refuse the butter, salt and bacon bits. For extra flavor, I will add chives and have used salsa in the past as a flavor booster.
- Grilled chicken or pork. I personally don’t have experience eating these items, but these are usually leaner pieces of meat, and when cooked on a grill will have extra flavor without the calories. Just be careful of sauces and marinades that can pack a punch with your waistline, and also be aware of the bun/bread that may be offered. See if a stand has kabobs—no extra carbs from the bread, perhaps a few vegetables along with the meat, and it’s fun to eat.
- Frozen yogurt. No fair is complete without the ice cream and funnel cake vendors that draw you in with the sweet smells of deliciousness. Frozen yogurt has a lower calorie and fat count than ice cream, and can be enough to curb that sweets craving without having to turn to a deep fried option. Plus, it’ll keep you cool in the hot summer sun!
- Frozen fruit. I have seen frozen bananas on a stick, and this would be another option for keeping within a healthy range. Usually they are dipped in chocolate and I have actually seen those chocolate bananas sprinkled with other goodies (sprinkles, candy pieces, more syrup_, but if you can keep with a little chocolate and no extras, this would be a sweet treat that I would have.
***Deep fried vegetables did NOT make this list, even though yes, they are technically vegetables. Sorry to disappoint.
Some other tricks/suggestions I have used in the past are:
- Share. If you’re with a group of friends, get enough forks and napkins to share with everyone. This way, you still have a taste without feeling guilty about eating something on your own (*Except my cheese curds, those I do not share J)
- Water, water, water. Make sure to carry water with you not only to stay hydrated in the blazing sun, but to help keep those cravings in check. I have also seen lemonade stands that taught ‘light’ lemonade—more lemon than sugar and that can be a thirst-quenching option as well.
- Don’t come hungry. The fair will have a similar effect on you that a grocery store does when you’re hungry: everything will look good AND will likely cost you more than a grocery shopping trip.
- Walk. Walk through the barns, check out the displays, and walk as far and as much as you can, and see everything you can. The fair has TONS to do and much to learn, so enjoy the outdoors with a little exercise. Hey, it’ll counter balance some of the calories too!
- Set limits. Allow yourself one or two treats for the day, or in my case, for the week. Get exactly what you want so there are no regrets, and you don’t leave disappointed.
Hope to see you all at the fair!
Until next time J