Let’s Go To The EX (oh baby…)
So if you follow me on Instagram at all you might have seen that I took my family to the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) yesterday.
It’s a massive carnival and my goal was to see how close to Nutritarian I could stick while still feeling like I was indulging a bit and having a good time with my family. The nice thing about The Ex (as it’s called) is that they’ve got a huge range of food options and they go from the ridiculously unhealthy to the pretty moderately healthy so I knew that if I kept my impulses under control I could accomplish my mission.
So I started the day off with making my Caul-Power Porridge. I’m not going to lie - I did this on purpose so I wouldn’t have any starchy stuff on my daily food log going into the carnival. Fucking strategic, right? You can find the recipe for that breakfast right here.
So we did well in the morning with no snacking - though I might have had the tiniest bite of a fudge sample - we’re talking a gram or two. So then we made our way over to the food building and on the way came upon a stand that sold VEGGIE CORNDOGS!
My son and I had just been lamenting that morning about why the fuck no one had ever done this before - and how simple it would be to offer people that option. Having been a pescatarian his entire life he’s never had a corn dog so we said, ‘Fuck it,’ and got one. Did I indulge? Hell yes I did. I never thought I’d ever eat a corn dog again! Though I just took a bite of it (after making sure my son had an appropriate amount of mustard on it. It tasted exactly like I remember - though less greasy and oily. The batter felt light and fluffy - healthier than the versions I recalled from childhood. But I still consider something like this as processed fast-food, so I wasn’t exactly off to a great start…
For lunch we did tremendously well, healthy-eating-wise. My son got a Booster Juice smoothie along with a Sushi Burrito and I got a Poke Bowl.
Don’t know what a sushi burrito or poke bowl is? Well… you can google that shit but it’s essentially Mexican presentation meets Japanese flavours - which means delicious. The poke bowl had this purple rice that SEEMED like a whole grain (I honestly don’t know - it’s probably not… Ugh), and filled with ginger, lettuce, edemama, seaweed, mango, cucumber, avocado, raw tuna and salmon - packed to the brim with pretty healthy goodness. So, clearly, this wasn’t a plant-based meal with the raw fish in there - but this was part of my omega-3s for the week in terms of Nutritarian goals, so I was right on track with it.
For dessert the four of us all split a small box of Apple Fries, which was just cut up apple baked in cinnamon sugar, drizzled with plant-based caramel, and topped with a small dollop of real whipped cream (not plant based). So mildly treaty and we realized we could make a great version of this ourselves at home - so we aim to try that at some point!
We went through the afternoon without any real snacks. A couple more little samples at booths of maple popcorn and some fudge - nibbles, really. And my wife and kids had this frozen maple on a stick and I maaaaay have had a bite of it. It was just pure maple syrup - so still a processed sugar by definition - but at least maple is full of nutrients… No photo - sorry!
For dinner I polled the internet and they demanded I try the Cauliflower Buffalo Bites I’d been considering. So I got that along with a Mexican Salad - lettuce topped with beans, onions, corn, guac, and jalepenos. Super delicious. I decided to split a smoothie with my family - I picked out one from Booster Juice called Tropi-Kale - filled with kale, mango, banana, apple, and pineapple. My family got a bucket of hand-cut fries and I grabbed three or four only. Enough to tick off that box for me. They were a bit ‘meh’. The smoothie was truly fucking delicious and everyone enjoyed it. The cauliflower bites were pretty goddamn good. The sauce was nice, it had a pretty decent familiarity to chicken wings given what it is. Not an every day food, but I liked the indulgence and it absolutely ticked off the carnival junk food box for me.
So what happened next I got sort of lucky with. I had planned to entirely indulge for dessert with my son, but he hadn’t been feeling amazing following a few spinny rides. We were going to split a butter tart along with this dessert from Sweet Jesus which was meant to be a dessert version of a chili-cheese dog - it was a long-john donut filled with their delicious soft-serve and topped with a bunch of their toppings they use for their Oh Henry ice cream. So instead I stuck to plant-based for my final treat of the day and split a vegan Yogen Fruz with my wife and it was DELICIOUS. We both really enjoyed it.
So that was our day. And I gotta say - I pretty much accomplished what I set out to do in terms of eating somewhat healthy while still feeling like I wasn’t depriving myself at the CNE. The Cauliflower Buffalo Bites were probably the most indulgent thing I ate all day and I had most of it to myself. Following that it was just a few little bits or nibbles of samples or treats that my kids got. I stole a smidge of my daughter’s cotton candy - a little of my son’s ice cream when he started feeling better, etc… But suffice to say it’s possible to eat healthy at the CNE - and healthier than I did by far. I made a choice to let this be a day of balance. I was actually anticipating it to be an outright proper cheat-day by the end of it and it came out nowhere near that. I started my morning with a 600 calorie burning workout, and through-out the day I walked 18,000 steps, over 13km - so I think it’s safe to say that whatever damage I did with the indulgent elements of today will likely be erased by the physical activity I did off the top and throughout - and if not I was still well within the range of the 90% Nutritarian and 10% whatever-the-fuck-I-want with room to spare for the way I like to live.
Now I can’t promise any carnival you attend will have these same foods or if the CNE is the exception to the rule of there only being “deep fried shit” at carnivals. Those who live in the Greater-Toronto-Area are in luck. Either way, always do you research and do your best and plan ahead when going to places like this, pack your own snacks and meals if need be. Or just say ‘Fuck it’ and know that today’s the day you’re going to eat whatever and get right back on track ASAP.
In the end it’s all about the balance. And enjoying your life. And your loved ones. And the fuel you put into your body’s engine. Yesterday I was lucky. I got to do all of them.