Fort Worth, Texas,
16:28 PM

Howdy Folks! A dietitian's guide to the State Fair of Texas

What you need to know before heading to the fairgrounds

Tomorrow brings us one of the biggest games in college football history, the Red River Showdown! The Oklahoma Sooners take on arch rivals the Texas Longhorns at the Cotton Bowl stadium located at the Texas State Fairgrounds.

The 24-day long fair brings plenty of fun for the whole family with games, rides, and some of the most gut-busting concoctions of deep fried food in the state. Whether you’re going for the game or not, if you’re going to the fair be sure to check out some of this year’s featured foods and award winning creations. And hopefully as a dietitian at Cook Children's, I can help you enjoy all the fair has to offer and not blow all of your weekly caloric intake in one night.

Best Taste went to America’s Most Famous dessert with a Texas State Fair twist; Fried Jell-O. The classic taste of cherry Jello-O is breaded, fried, and topped with powdered sugar, whipped cream, and a cherry. The award for Most Creative went to State Fair Cookie Fries. These crinkle-cut, deep fried cookies come in sprinkle and chocolate chip flavors and deceivingly come in your standard fry holder. Instead of ketchup, you’ll get the choice of strawberry or milk chocolate sauce for dipping.

If you’re looking for something a little less adventurous but just as decadent, look no further than Dr. Pepper Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. Dr. Pepper is a favorite beverage among Texans, but it just got sweeter and can be found in the Creative Arts Building at Howdy Homemade.

Don’t worry, not all of the food is dessert. Another new food that is sure to please the kids is the Dorito Bacon Mozzarella Cheese Stick. This kid friendly snack is covered with bacon, dipped in a batter of Doritos and then deep fried. Don’t forget the sauce! Choose from “a special marinara” and ranch sauce.

Another noteworthy food to mention didn’t make the Big Tex Choice Awards, but it certainly is making headlines. Mark Cuban brings us the State Fair Edible Cola. This edible cup filled with The Main Root soda in cotton candy or candy apple flavor claims to be a “healthier and delicious soft drink.” Main Root Soda is made from Fair Trade certified organic evaporated cane juice (aka sugar). Not only can you drink the soda, but when you’re done you can even eat the cup! These flavored, edible cups are made by Loliware, a company that Cuban invested in during an episode of Shark Tank.

According to the creator’s website  these biodegr(edible) cups are 100 percent plastic-free, gluten-free, BPA-free, non-GMO, all natural, non-toxic, safe and FDA approved. Loliware is made from seaweed, organic sweeteners and the flavors and colors come from fruits and vegetables. Beware, the cups are said to be sticky and lose their shape quickly. The company recommends taking small bites!

Don’t be fooled by claims that organic soda or an edible cup is healthy. Sugar is sugar and just because it’s organic doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Remember, the fair only comes around once a year, so take the kids and have fun! Consider the following options to help limit your intake of calories and saturated fat while still enjoying all that the fair has to offer.

  • Share your food! Split an order of food with the family that way you don’t over indulge.
  • Watch a baking competition rather than eating the sweets (no calories for watching!)
  • Challenge the kids to a game of basketball free-throws.
  • Climb the steps to the top of the colorful slides and then race to the bottom.
  • Park farther away or take a stroll around Fair Park to burn some calories.
  • Get back on track the next day by eating non-fried food and exercising.

There are numerous new and intriguing food creations. Be sure to walk around and see the seemingly endless options to cure your craving for fair food.

Some of the other new foods for this year include the following:

  • Caribbean Pineapple Korn-a-Copia
  • Deep Fried Bacon Burger Dog Slider on a Stick
  • Deep Fried Pulled Pork “FUNYUN” Dings
  • Bacon Cream Corn
  • Dallas’ Fried Bacon-Tilla
  • Lollipop Fried Bacon Wrapped Smoked Quail Breast on a Stick
  • Mama’s Garlic Fries
  • Pecan Pie Poppers
  • Pina-A-lot-Tas

For a complete list of foods and where to find them, visit an information booth at the Fairgrounds.

And as a friendly reminder, food vendors don’t accept cash, so be sure to stop by a coupon booth on your way to get your fried food or edible cup!

* Photos courtesty of Kevin Brown/State Fair of Texas.

Related story:

Kim Mangham, M.D., a Cook Children's pediatrician, loves the fair. She wrote about her experience last year and offers more ideas for a healthy visit.Click here.

About the author

Virginia Landrum is a dietitian in clinical nutrition at Cook Children's. Through medical nutrition therapy, a Cook Children's pediatric dietitian can help prevent and manage diseases that affect your child's health, fitness and overall well-being.Cook Children's has registered dietitians and dietetic technicians on staff to help with your child's nutritional needs from birth all the way through the teen years.

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