Navigating healthy food options at the Fair

Everyone’s favorite part of coming to the Minnesota State Fair is the food, but if you have diabetes or need gluten-free foods, the Fair can be overwhelming and daunting to enjoy without feeling miserable at the end of the day.

HealthPartners Dietian Susan Marschke highlighted some healthy options to help people navigate the food selection at the Fair.

One item is one of the new foods, the Moroccan sausage bowl from Sausages by Cynthia.

“I like this one,” said Marschke. “I like the vegetables. There’s carrots in there, tomato.  It’s got a nice spicy kick to it, some nice fiber from those garbanzo beans, Yah a great option.”   

Another new food that packs a healthy punch? The shrimp ceviche at the Shrimp Shack.

“This one I particularly like because again it’s got those vegetables in it’s got a nice seasoning too and the whole grain tortilla chips are a nice addition as well,” said Marschke. “And maybe you have eaten a lot of junk food and this is a nice way of cleaning the palate.”  

Many of the Fair favorites are minefield, especially for diabetics. Just five ounces of cheese curds are more than 500 calories and 34 grams of carbs. As for mini donuts, five of those little guys are 270 calories and 38 carbs. Three of the Sweet Martha’s cookies are 270 calories and 42 carbs, but of course no one eats just three.

The apple “First Kiss” from the University of Minnesota is also available in the Agriculture Building. Some fair staples are good standbys like corn on the cob.

“Even with a little bit of a dip in that butter, it’s just fine, a vegetable serving,” said Marschke.

The bottom line: battling the options is not nearly as hard a battling the temptations.

“There’s a lot of resources where you can look up, how many calories might be included, the carbs, grams of fat, grams of protein,” said Marschke. “So when you look at that you can think of budgeting of what you might be using up in terms of your fat, or your calories or your carbohydrates for that day. Just like we do with money think about - where do I want those calories to come from? Do I really want all of those cookies and all of those calories, or can I get by with one and still have the mini donuts and cheese curds?”

For more information on fair food calorie counts and more, click here.