Alternatives to the usual festival fare

Nelson chef Jamie Hertz gives some alternatives to the usual festival fare you may find this season.

When most of us think of fast food we immediately think of the greasy burger joints, or foods that are so bad for us.  Those of us who have travelled know that fast food can be some of the best food experiences. From taco stands in Mexico to a noodle cart in Asia it can be both easy on your wallet and good for you.

I never understood why it is that every time we go to a festival the food is loaded with grease.  French fries, onion rings, sloppy pizza, burgers, and other fried goodies are some of the most common things found. Maybe because it’s the cheapest to produce and requires very little skill to keep the consistency, but it seems to be a continuous theme. Next time you are at a fair or festival look for the chip truck and you will see a line of people being drawn to the greasy fried potatoes like they are in a scene from Night Of The Living Dead. Zombies being drawn to that oh so familiar smell lingering in the air. I’m not going to lie, I have been a victim of this many times and it is only a matter of time before the beer takes down the guard that I am in the lineup with the others licking my lips at the deep fried goodness.

I think that over the years we have become accustomed to thinking that if the theme is fast food then it equals unhealthy and something that will clog our arteries.  As well as when we hear the words healthy or diet we think of boring food that has little or no flavour.

We often overlook the qualities and benefits food has to offer when we eat it. Each thing we ingest has a direct effect on how our bodies will react, our moods, and our energy. When we are at a festival, concert or fair we tend to use a lot of energy on dancing, walking around, standing in lineups and whatever else one might do at an event, so why not eat for the occasion? You may often wonder why you feel sluggish after attending one of these events and it’s because our bodies are exhausted and are depleted in nutrients. Have you ever thought of your food as a fuel? I am surprised at how many don’t.

Next time you have plans to go out on an adventure and don’t want to eat the food that is offered at the event try packing your own meal. Think of things that are light and full of energy such as avocados, grapes and blueberries. I also love a good sandwich but hate when it gets soggy if it sits too long, so a good thing to do is prepare everything you want on it and store separately for easy assembly later on. A nice roasted chicken mixed into a quinoa salad is one of my favourite things to eat. Quinoa is one of the healthiest things for us as it is packed with goodness. It is a complete protein that contains nine amino acids that are required for muscle building and repair.  It has high levels of magnesium and fibre as well as manganese and copper which are great antioxidants. It is a fantastic thing for our bodies and I am a big fan of it. I know it may not have the same mouth-watering qualities as the deep fryer, but you will not feel gross after eating it.

There are so many things that one can do when it comes to eating better and being more aware of the food we ingest is a great start. So next time you head to an event like the local fair, get creative with your food and plan ahead.  If you are going to break down and stuff your face with cotton candy and fried doughnuts make sure that you have something else to balance things out. Don’t make festival food your total diet, just a part of it.

-Chef Jamie Hertz


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