The State Fair is the only place where even something as nutritious sounding as mixed fruit can be deep fried, impaled with a stick, and transformed into a heart attack waiting to happen. No one expects to leave the fair feeling like they just finished the Master Cleanse
, but surely there is a way to nosh your way through the day without resigning yourself to hiding your bikini until next summer. The Hot Dish uncovered a handful of food vendors selling options ranging from the not-totally-without-nutritional-value to the downright good for you. Bulky sweater season may be on its way, but it's not here yet, so pay attention.
5. Mario's Pita
Located in the northwest corner of the Food Building, Mario's offers pita sandwiches (seafood, Romano beef, vegetarian with portabella mushrooms and cheese), chicken artichoke pita, and freshly squeezed lemonade. Without a licensed nutritionist doing a full analysis, common sense tells us these are among the healthier options at the fair. Nothing is deep fried, the ingredients are fresh and recognizable, and pita bread is a good source of carbs and protein without a lot of fat. And for the vegetarians wandering in a sea of corn dogs and deep-fried turkey sandwiches, this place is sure to be an oasis.
This one's for the carnivores who like their meat lean, local, and not buried under mounds of fried dough. Minnekabob offers kabobs made with locally sourced bison, chicken, and sirloin steak. With far less fat per gram than beef and other animal proteins, bison also offers higher levels of iron, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids
. Get the grilled bison kabob with generous hunks of green pepper and onion, and you may never go back to a hot dog again. Find them in the Food Building's northwest corner.
3. MN Apples
When it comes to fresh, local, and delicious, you can't beat a Minnesota Apple. The booth is in the Agriculture Building and offers everything from whole apples to apple cider and applesauce to frozen cider pops. When you need a cool, refreshing treat and one more Summit EPA will result in an impromptu nap in a puddle of cigarette butts in the corner of the Midway, the cider pop is the way to go.
2. Corn Roast
We don't need to tell you that this place is on the southeast corner of Nelson and Dan Patch. You can just follow the hordes. The booth is so bustling you feel like a Minnesota Rollergirl just approaching the cashier. But the result is oh so worth it. Sure, it's slathered in butter and you're probably going to coat it in a layer of salt. But the golden kernels beneath have only about 70 calories (on an average, medium-sized ear) and contain beta-carotene, Vitamin B, and Vitamin C. What you do with that salt shaker is your own business.
1. Produce Exchange
Our number-one healthy State Fair food vendor can't be beat when it comes to the sheer quality and quantity of fresh, nutritious offerings. Located on Underwood between Judson and Carnes, their counters are bursting with fresh fruit, including apples, pears, berries, oranges, peaches, nectarines, plums, pineapples, mangoes, bananas, melons, trail mixes, and energy bars. There's not a mini doughnut at the fair that can hold a candle to one of their perfectly ripe California peaches. But hey, after a piece of fruit or two, go ahead and slip over to the Sweet Martha's Cookies booth. We won't tell.
More State Fair posts:
Minnesota State Fair taste test: worst new foods
Minnesota State Fair taste test: best new foods
Minnesota State Fair's Top 10 things to do
Texas man makes deep-fried beer. Minnesotans want some.
Butter head trivia: 5 things you never knew about butter sculptures