Fall Festival

Balanced Bites: Fall Festivals

By: Aizya Ali-Mohammed, RDN, LD

Hear ye! Hear ye! Gather around and lend an ear! Your trusted guide in the realm of nourishment has wondrous news to share. Say hello to our new series, "Balanced Bites"! We're dishing out the tastiest tips and tricks to build healthy meals and snacks while out and about. Summer’s over and it’s time to chill, so we're kicking off the first edition with a special focus on fall-time state fairs. Bundle up and get ready for the most spice-tacular autumn munchies!

Smoked Turkey Legs

Amidst the festive revelry of most fairs, a savory delight beckons with its smoky and umami-laden flavor, fit for even the mighty Fred Flintstone. Did you know that the Disney Parks alone sell a staggering 1.6 million of these succulent treasures every year? What is it about this delectable drumstick that ignites our senses and keeps us spellbound?

  • Don’t Sweat The Fall Stuff: Excessive sweating, while strolling through the fair under the beaming sun (*looking at you, Georgia weather*), can cause sodium loss in the body. Your body attempts to remedy this electrolyte imbalance by signaling a craving for salt. Most smoked turkey legs are injected with a salt solution which may be the reason for its increased appeal. Although sodium is necessary in the body, too much can result in dehydration. Remember to increase your water intake to rehydrate and replenish fluid losses properly.
  • A-maize-ing Energy: What other secrets do turkey legs hold to make them such a crowd favorite? They are a protein-packed snack that'll keep you feeling full and energized all day. But let's not stop there—let's take this snack to the next level by adding some delish carbs, AKA the fuel our bodies crave. How about a crispy, juicy cob of roasted corn? Roasted corn is often offered at the state fair, and not only is it a whole grain, but it also comes with a bonus: resistant starch. Resistant starch can work wonders in keeping our blood sugar levels in check and our gut super happy.

Funnel Cake

Just follow your nose to the tantalizing aroma of warm, buttery goodness that feels like a cozy hug on a chilly day, and voila! Behold the beloved funnel cakes. This mouth-watering dessert made its way to the US via the Pennsylvania Dutch immigrants during the 17th and 18th centuries. It's a carb-loaded dream come true, but let's face it, a funnel cake with powdered sugar alone won't cut it if we're aiming for a high-energy day.

  • Tackle the Toppings: Sweeten the deal with fresh fruit that brings a whole lot more to the table than just a sugar rush. Our top pick? Juicy boo-berries, bursting with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. And if that's not enough, go nuts! Sprinkle on your favorite seeds and nuts for a protein-rich, heart-healthy crunch. Bring these extra toppings from home for a budget-friendly hack.
  • Go Big or Gourd Home: Are you aware that state fair food is meticulously selected to cater to the thrill-seeking desires of park-goers? Indeed, the same sense of adventure one experiences while riding the tallest roller coaster is intended to inspire individuals to sample new and exciting foods. Prepare to be blown away by a dynamic, savory-sweet creation - a funnel cake that channels the iconic Monte Cristo sandwich! Picture a funnel cake, dusted with powdered sugar, topped with pieces of that oh-so-good smoked turkey leg, and lusciously drizzled with strawberry filling. Not only is it a taste bud explosion of two state fair snacks, but it also packs a powerful protein and fiber-rich punch for a well-rounded treat!

Dessert Apples

Celebrate the peak of apple season with this sticky, tart, and oh-so-perfect fall favorite. Did you know food enthusiasts consider caramel and candy apples cousins? What an a-peel-ing family tree! No matter your choice, make sure to look for apples adorned with chopped nuts, coconut shreds, or melted dark chocolate. Yes, we said dark chocolate! Dark chocolate is a superhero of sorts, packed with antioxidants and minerals that help to save the day from chronic illness and disease. Increase the satisfaction by packing one of these simple protein-rich snacks to eat alongside:

  • Greek yogurt
  • tuna/chicken salad
  • low-sodium turkey jerky
  • trail mix
  • nut butter
  • cheese stick

Hot Dog/ Hamburger

Hot dogs and hamburgers may be considered all-American, but they originate from German immigrants in the 19th century. Get ready to be wowed by some meaty math! Brace yourself: Americans chow down on a whopping 20 billion hot dogs and 50 billion burgers per year. But, wait for it...did you know that mustard reigns supreme as the top dog condiment, while mayo takes the crown for burgers? Now, while these classics provide all the protein and carbs we need, let's give it a zesty upgrade! As our fave chef, Emeril Lagasse would say, "Let's kick it up a notch!" So, let's pile on some nutrient-packed toppings:

  • tomato slices
  • onions
  • pickles
  • pickled vegetables (kimchi, sauerkraut, onions)
  • guacamole
  • peppers
  • leafy greens

So how did we do? Share this post with your family and friends. Give them pumpkin to talk about! Let’s squash the idea that all foods can’t fit within a balanced diet.

Till we meet again...sending you heaps of warm wishes for a season filled with joy and wonder!

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