The 10 Healthiest State Fair Foods, Because Sometimes Your Arteries Need a Break

DES MOINES, IA - AUGUST 15: Fairgoers buy food at the Iowa State Fair August 15, 2007 in Des Moines. Iowa. The fair runs to August 19 and is expected to draw about 1 million people. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Source: Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Just a suggestion: If you're into counting calories, then perhaps your local state fair isn't the best place to hit your FitBit goal for the day. After all, it's all a little overwhelming — at state fairs there are so many yummy and fried "foods" to choose from, and pretty much all of them are covered in some degree of powdered sugar. It smells amazing, and before you know it, you're knee-deep in a vat of cotton candy, trying to figure out how many different foods on a stick you can hold at one time. Let's deep fry all of the things! 

But don't feel like you have to throw away your hard work at the gym for the sake of having fun riding a rickety ferris wheel that may or may not have been put together by that 13-year-old operating the skee ball booth. Because when it comes to state fair foods there some options that are ... better than others. Like, maybe if we're going for the larger than life ice cream cone, we can skip the sprinkles and chocolate syrup. Sure, you'd be way better off eating basically anywhere else, but you can have your funnel cake and eat it too. Besides, the fair only comes around once a year, right? #YOLO. 

Here are the "healthiest" state fair foods. (If by healthy, you mean lacking in calories and fried deliciousness.)

Corn on the Cob

Anytime you see a stand offering fruits or veggies, that's always going to be your best bet — and corn on the cob is a yummy, healthy, and low cal option. And hey, in most cases, it's even on a stick! For around 160 calories, it's yours ... and you can even have butter. Yum. 

hot dogs or corn dogs

As tempting as those greasy cheeseburgers sandwiched between two donuts look, they will most likely cost you about two years off your life. Instead, opt for another backyard BBQ fave: Corn dogs. At 460 calories, you could do worse. Are you an over achiever? Go for a plain hot dog without the bun (151 calories), and know that you are a far better woman than I will ever be.

Cotton Candy

If it's something sweet you're craving, cotton candy is a way better alternative to a lot of the other fair offerings. Yeah, it's like, literally made out of sugar and air, but in moderation, it's not a terrible thing. Besides, chances are, you'll get sick of it before you finish the whole bag. One serving size is 220 calories. 

Ice Cream

In a cup, no toppings. Even better? If you can scrounge up some frozen yogurt instead. I didn't say it was going to be exciting fair foods, I said it would be healthy fair foods. Well, as healthy as you can get. 135 calories for a scoop? That's pretty good for getting your sweet fix. 

soft pretzels

This one is extra boring, because it's something you can eat anytime you go to the mall. But if you're hungry and don't want to give in to that giant turkey leg (do those things even come from a turkey?), a soft pretzel — with salt if you want some — will fill you up, comes in at just under 400 calories, and give you fuel to beat those dumb kids at popping balloons with darts.

Candy apples

This one is extra boring, because it's something you can eat anytime you go to the mall. But if you're hungry and don't want to give in to that giant turkey leg (do those things even come from a turkey?), a soft pretzel — with salt if you want some — will fill you up, comes in at just under 400 calories, and give you fuel to beat those dumb kids at popping balloons with darts.

Popcorn

Except, maybe not popcorn totally doused in butter. Popcorn is only 31 calories per cup pre-butter and salt, so add some toppings if you want! 

Kabobs

If it's grilled and comes with veggies, you could do a lot worse. Chicken or shrimp would be your best bet. Your average grilled veggie kabob comes in at around 125 calories, while its protein variations should tally up between 300-500. Not bad for something so delicious!  

Peanuts

If you can walk around a state fair and only eat peanuts, please contact me so I can knight you. But if you need a pick-me-up, or a little something extra to go with your lunch to balance it out, peanuts are a great option. Without salt? 166 calories per ounce. Snack away! 

And if you absolutely must have something fried: Go with bacon

Yes, bacon. Because deep fried butter is just crazy, and fried bacon on a stick — with maple! — will only cost you about 229 calories. And by the time you're done eating it, you'll be off fried foods for the next sixth months. Progress! 

Images: Giphy, Keith McDuphee/Flickr, IntangibleArts/Flickr, Thomas Tivoli/Flickr, GordonRamsaySubmissions/Flickr, Mercury Jane/Flickr, Ruocaled/Flickr, Joelle Nebbe-Mornod/Flickr, CookBookMan17/Flickr, Stacey Spensley/Flickr, Lara604/Flickr

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