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Food Is The Best Ride

At Arizona State Fair

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Just a Doughnut as big as your head.
Photo by Ryan Scott.

Mouth watering sausages with onions and peppers.
Photo by Ryan Scott.

Deep fried goodness.
Photo by Ryan Scott.

Ribs, half pound burger, smoked sausage, and fried zucchini are just a few tasty treats from Biggy's.
Photo by Ryan Scott.

What? Bacon wrapped sausage? Oh Yea, everything is better with bacon.
Photo by Ryan Scott.

As sweet as…. Soda?
Photo by Ryan Scott.
Beyond The Traditional Deep Fried Favorites, There Are Also Some Healthy Options At This Year’s Fair, Including A Salad And Some Low-Carb Options, Too

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By Ryan Scott
Modern Times Magazine

Oct. 30, 2015 — The Arizona State Fair is in full swing and although there are plenty of rides, games and concerts to draw a crowd, if we’re being honest, the food is most definitely the main attraction.

Not that Americans are historically known for their health-conscious eating decisions, but a state fair seems like a license to totally let loose on some of your favorite foods, which are also being deep fried for the occasion.

The thing is, not everyone wants to eat totally excessive junk food. In fact, a recent study done by the USDA shows that Americans are starting to make healthier decisions with their diets on the whole.

That being said, it can seem like a near impossible task to eat even remotely healthy at a place where a deep fried stick of butter is an acceptable snack.

“In an environment like that it's going to come down to self control,” said former personal trainer Samuel Becker. “Whether it be corn dogs or double-fried Twinkies, it's pretty tough to stick to healthy foods. Either bring a healthier snack with you or try to find a healthier option at the fair.”

To that point, healthy food is very hard to come by at the Arizona State Fair this year.

But it also may not be nearly as fun to bring in a granola bar and watch people happily stuff their faces with (presumably) delicious fried food. So, here are some options to consider when eating food at the fair while trying not to overdo it.

Perhaps an obvious and reasonably good place to start is what will accompany any food choice, a beverage from the fair. Be it a 44-ounce soda or super-sweet lemonade, most drinks at the fair are definitely going to add to the day’s calorie count.

So, a good place to start if you still want to enjoy some of the food would be to drink water instead. Plus, you can bring in your own water and not have to pay for it, which can be a win-win.

Before getting into specific food options, it needs to be mentioned that specific details, such as calorie count and nutritional information, is totally unavailable for any of the food served at the fair.

None of the vendor stands have, or are willing to give, any nutritional information and the information boots don’t have any kind of nutritional pamphlet or anything along those lines, either.

A volunteer for the fair mentioned that all of the food is provided by private vendors, so it is hard for the fair organizers to provide nutritional information. With that in mind, any food choices will have to be made using educated guesses and general health information.

“A good rule of thumb to follow would be to avoid anything deep fried,” Becker said. “The oil that is used by most vendors to fry foods at the fair are unhealthy fats that you want to stay away from. Even though that may seem obvious, it can be helpful to keep that in mind since no specific nutritional information is available.”

For those looking to find a main course option to fill them up that isn’t all that bad health wise will have pretty limited options. Enzo’s Pizzeria is centrally located at the fair and offers arguably the most healthy option at the event, even if it is a little boring.

For $7, patrons can get a garden salad made up of lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and a jalapeno. For $8, they have a chicken salad that is the exact same salad. Save for the cheese, this is a pretty safe option, even if it is very bland given the other food available.

For something a bit more exciting, but still not terrible, Sammy Pon’s Chinese Food stand offers a low-carb chicken bowl, which is basically just a large bowl of teriyaki chicken and a whole lot of nothing else.

Most of the food served at the stand is some form of fried rice topped with some sort of Chinese cuisine-style meat. The stand also offers a deep-fried egg roll on a stick, because they can. They at least thought to provide a low-carb option, even if it doesn’t offer a lot of variety.

Finally, even though it still not be overly healthy, there is an increasing demand for gluten-free food options and although there aren't many at the fair, the food stand Biggy’s has those seeking gluten-free options covered, including gluten-free buns for their burgers.

Granted, the fries violate the “avoid deep-fried foods” rule, but if gluten is a no-go, they are a good option.

Not to mention, Biggy’s is consistently one of the most popular food destinations at the fair.

Beyond that, if healthy food option seekers want some dessert, there is a stand that serves non-fat frozen yogurt and ice cream.

Granted, they still have plenty of far less healthy options and toppings, but in theory, this can be a better dessert option than a deep-fried Twinkie or a deep-fried slice of cheesecake on a stick.

However, the limited options can potentially seem a bit depressing when compared to the smorgasbord of treats that are available if counting calories isn’t a problem. So, how bad would it be to show up to the fair and decide to just have a one of a kind cheat day?

“A lot of times people get in the mindset that because they give in to a certain food or indulge in something they know they shouldn't, they let it ruin their whole day or week and just give up,” Becker said. “Don't sweat it. Everyone is gonna mess up. Pick yourself up and focus on eating healthy [in the] long term. Most things are fine in moderation, and I think it's fine to occasionally treat yourself. However, if you choose to indulge, you should prioritize eating correctly the following days before and after the fair; in other words, earn it!”

This reporter can say from his own experience that it is definitely fun to indulge a bit. I would recommend a classic fair corn dog followed up with a Texas Doughnut, affectionately titled “The Big D.”

Those looking to indulge can visit the Arizona State Fair at the State Fairgrounds, 1826 W. McDowell Rd., Phoenix, from now to Nov. 8. And don’t forget, the fair is only open Wednesday to Sunday — it's closed on Monday and Tuesday.
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