Think about the food you eat at the fair

Many of us look forward to this time of year and an annual trip to the State Fair. In addition to the excitement of the rides and the educational booths and exhibits, there’s the fun of eating the food at the fair. A couple of weeks ago, I heard that two new items offered this year will be Deep Fried Jello and Deep Fried Peanut Butter Cup Oreo Sandwiches. If we look at where they would fit on the USDA’s “My Plate,” most the State Fair foods would go under discretionary calories or what we think of as “extras”.

One way to enjoy extra goodies is to plan ahead and consume fewer calories a day or two before you go to the fair. Here are a few tips to keep in mind once you get there.

Pass up the mega-size drinks. Instead of choosing a giant size calorie-laden soda, juice or fresh squeezed lemonade, order the smaller version instead. An even better option would be to bring along water, which is calorie-free, and then you can start your calorie balance sheet at zero.

Share with others. Since there are so many tempting options, think about having a little bit of several different things to keep from feeling deprived. Cotton candy is an easy treat to share. All things on a stick and deep-fried don’t fit into this category as easily.

Avoid grazing. When you “graze” it’s hard to know how much you’ve eaten. As you walk around you buy this-and-that to munch on and it’s easy to lose track. Check out the food options as you’re walking, make your selections and then sit and eat. That way you’ll be more conscious of what’s gone into your mouth.

Consider setting limits. A funnel cake is a deep-fried sugar-topped delicacy chock full of fat and calories. Let’s face it; the fat grams in this choice are way over any reasonable limit in a healthy diet. If you enjoy this treat without sharing, it would be advisable to make good choices the rest of the day.

Plan for more activity to burn off calories

Another good option is to plan for more activity such as walking to burn off the calories in those fair delicacies. Wear comfortable shoes and consider wearing a pedometer if you really want to track your steps. One mile equals 2,000 steps. A 120-pound person burns about 80 calories an hour walking at 2 miles per hour; a 180-pound person burns around 120 calories an hour.

The number of calories you burn walking depends on your own body weight and the distance you walk. Heavier people will burn more calories per mile and you’ll burn more calories the further you walk. If you can walk a mile in 15 minutes, you’ll likely burn about 100 calories, though while at the fair you’re unlikely to be walking that fast.

Here’s a list of how the calories in typical fair foods translate into the number of miles you would need to walk to burn off those calories:

Caramel apple — 3 miles

Corn dog — 4.5 miles

Cheese fries — 4.5 miles

Cotton candy — 1.5 miles

Fried candy bar on-a-stick — 4.5 miles

6-inch funnel cake — 3 miles

32-oz. soft drink — 2.5 miles

Sno-cone — 2.5 miles

Soft pretzel — 3 miles

Even with the best intentions, some of us may feel that we’ve overindulged by the time we leave the fair. If you’re looking for a back up plan consider that tomorrow is another day. Get yourself back on track with your food choices and get going on your exercise. Eating a little extra here or there for a special occasion will not undo an otherwise healthy lifestyle.

Source: Colorado Cooperative Extension


Cranberry Apple Crisp

3 cups chopped peeled tart apples

2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 cup crushed corn flakes

½ cup chopped pecans

½ cup packed light brown sugar

3 tablespoons butter, melted

In a large bowl, combine the apples, cranberries, sugar and flour. Spoon into a 2 qt. baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Combine the cornflakes, pecans, brown sugar and butter. Sprinkle over apple mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 – 40 minutes or until top is golden brown and filling is bubbly.

Sandra R. Cain is the Bladen County Extension director She can be reached by email at or call 910-862-4591.