The great Minnesota Eat-Together
- Blog Post by: Jen Emmert
- August 30, 2011 - 7:46 AM
An annual event for many, the Minnesota State Fair tends to be a day full of walking, people watching and eating foods deep fried on a stick. Throughout my journey of losing 100lbs and trying to find a healthy balance in an unbalanced world, I've made it a habit not to "deny" myself anything. I never wanted to "ban" myself from ever going anywhere because being healthy meant living life, and I needed to figure out how to be healthy no matter where I was.
I was determined this year to enjoy the Minnesota State Fair but balance my healthiness journey at the same time.
A plan of action:
Before I leave for a long road trip, I spend some time online looking up the roads I'll be taking to make sure I know where I'm going. When I'm making something for dinner I've never made before, I have the recipe out in front of me. Any good business person makes a business plan or strategy plan before launching a new product or idea.
So in my effort to enjoy the Minnesota State Fair this year while making somewhat healthier decisions compared to years past, I decided I needed a plan of action. It may sound silly but I actually found myself more relieved at the fair knowing I had a plan instead of feeling overwhelmed by seeing temptation every where.
Every good plan has some research. A quick look around the Minnesota State Fair's website will give you everything you ever need and more! By the time I was ready to go to the fair, I had put together a list of foods I was planning on eating and even a map of where everything was located. The map helped because without, I could have become frustrated trying to find the vendors I planned to go to and gave up only to jump in line at the nearest food vendor!
Being prepared like I was gave me a comforting feeling while being surrounded by temptation. I found myself standing at the State Fair surrounded by amazingly tempting flavors floating through the air but because I had my plan with me, I felt strong enough to stick to what I decided I was going to do.
Decide on your healthier options:
Picking out 4-5 healthy options to eat while you're at the Minnesota State Fair will do a couple things. First, it will satisfies your subconscious need to eat when everyone else around you is eating. Second, it helps fill you up on healthier options instead of eating fried after fried after fried. While there are some vendors that sell healthier options as their main item, pay attention to other vendor menus see what else they'll offer. For example, when we were in line for our sauteed alligator (see below), I noticed the same vendor also sold frozen grapes.
Carlos and I had the below healthier options:
Salad on a Stick (Giggles Campfire Grill, Cooper St. & Lee Ave)
Other healthier choices could include:
- Grilled Shrimp on-a-stick (Fish & Chips Seafood Shoppe in food building)
- Frozen fruit on-a-stick (Veggie Pie in food building)
- Energy Mix (Simply Nuts & More, in Lee & Rose Warner Coliseu)
- $1 all you can drink milk (North side of Judson between Clough and Nelson)
Select your splurge options:
For most, we wait all year for certain foods at the Minnesota State Fair. It's important not to deny yourself anything but instead, make decisions on the foods you will have before hand and stick to your items. It's ideal to pick 2 or 3 items you know you really really want and then split them with one or two others. By splitting them with someone else, you are having the foods that you want but not eating the entire thing.
For our splurge items, Carlos and I shared:
Cheese curds (multiple locations)
- Breakfast lollipop (Axels, southeast corner of the Food Building off Cooper)
- Deep fried cookie (Dough Sonny’s Spiral Spuds, Located in the Food Building)
- Chocolate covered jalapeno peppers(Andre’s Watermelon, near Ye Old Mil)
- Sweet Martha's cookies (multiple locations)
- Chocolate covered fried bacon (Famous Dave's, West Dan Patch Ave. & Chambers St)
Be careful when you purchase your splurge foods and pay attention to when you can stop eating. For some foods, you may not need to finish the whole thing. Carlos and I each had a few pieces each of the cheese curds but ended up discarding the last 1/3 of the container because we were both done. Food is fairly expensive at the State Fair so discarding foods isn't a good habit however in my mind, it is better to discard the food than to force yourself to eat it.
Also, think outside foods you always get and try new things for your splurge items. Looking for idea's? Click HERE for a list of the new food items for 2011.
Take the focus away from food:
This is actually the most important part of my plan - take the focus and priority away from eating at the fair and instead, submerge yourself in everything non-food related the fair has to offer! While it is fun to try new foods, both splurge items and healthier items, it is important to recognize that the food is really a small portion of what the State Fair has to offer.
During the three hours Carlos and I were at the fair, we racked up 2.5 miles worth of walking. Also, for the first time ever, I wandered into the Health Fair 11 and was beyond excited at all the tests you could have done! Did you know you can have:
- Glucose checks
- Retina scans
- Bone density screens
- Body compositions measured (mine was 22.2% = normal, wahoo!)
- Flu shots
- Blood pressure checks (mine was 103/77 = normal)
- Heart rate screen (mine was 61 bpm = normal)
Here I am getting my blood pressure & heart rate tested:
Carlos and I also wandered around the Agriculture/Horticulture building where we found a plethora of Minnesota wines, local honeys, plants, flowers and, my favorite, all the Minnesota apples! Who knew we had so many famous apples?!
Lastly, Carlos and I wandered around some of the animal barns. The Minnesota State Fair has quite a large population of sheep, poultry, horses, swine and cattle. It is amazing to see so many different species all hanging out under one roof.
Other non-food related things to do at the Minnesota State Fair include:
- 2pm daily parade (info HERE)
- Eco experience including sampling local health foods (info HERE)
- Multiple events at the free stage entertainment (info HERE)
- Giant sing-a-long (info HERE)
- Minnesota community pride showcase (info HERE)
- Talent contests (info HERE)
- Thank a farmer magic show (info HERE)
So there you have it - my action plan for a healthier Minnesota State Fair. Any other tips you can add?
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