Beer cheese soup, kringle, sausage, butter burger, frozen custard, and cheese curds. All these food items are synonymous with Wisconsin, yet none represent the epitome of health. Not to worry my fellow Wisconsinites, our great state has several other (possibly) lesser-known healthy attributes. Check out these healthier Wisconsin foods so you can enjoy our state’s traditions as well as benefit nutritionally!
Wisconsin reigns supreme with over 300 supper clubs serving up strong cocktails, classic American food, and an entertaining destination for the evening. While supper clubs did not start in the Midwest, Wisconsin’s history is steeped in history and nostalgia for the food, family-friendly atmosphere, and relaxation they provide.
Supper clubs came about during Prohibition in New York speakeasies. The nightclubs began serving supper as a cover for the illegal sale and consumption of alcohol. By the late 1930s and 1940s, supper clubs became popular around the nation via Hollywood movies and television shows. Wisconsin supper clubs began as simple taverns or dancehalls that served fried chicken and perch along with beer. Over the years, the concept was transformed into the classic food and décor we know of and love today. The menu at most supper clubs will include a Friday fish fry, Saturday prime rib, and Sunday broasted chicken and ribs. Gather your loved ones and check out the Wisconsin Supper Club website to find one near you!
Did you know that cranberries are Wisconsin’s official state fruit? Harvested from late September to the end of October in central and northern Wisconsin, cranberries from our great state represent more than 60% of the country’s crop yield. The first Wisconsin cranberry harvest took place in Berlin, Wisconsin, in 1860. Contrary to popular belief, cranberries do not grow in water. Instead, they grow on low running vines. To aid with the harvesting process, the fields and marshes are flooded with water. Since cranberries naturally contain a pocket of air, they float to the surface of the water and can more easily be gathered.
About 95% of harvested cranberries will be used in sauce or juice, or converted to dried fruit, while sadly only 5% are sold as fresh fruit. These tiny fruits are packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients that fight oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. They are also high in fiber and vitamins C and E and low in sugar, making the fresh version a great choice to help decrease total cholesterol and triglycerides. Around 20% of all cranberries produced are consumed during the weeks surrounding Thanksgiving. Check out this recipe to incorporate more fresh cranberries into your nutritional routine and reap the anti-inflammatory benefits year-round!
Most of us know that Wisconsin is the dairy state but did you that there are approximately 1.27 million dairy cows that reside here?! In 2016, Wisconsin produced a whopping 677.7 million pounds of cheddar cheese, which won us 184 awards at the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest in 2017. It’s no wonder why a lot of Wisconsin foods contain dairy. With 2.45 billion pounds of monthly milk production, Wisconsin knows dairy.
The great debate has now become full-fat dairy vs. low- or reduced-fat dairy. Fat-free and reduced-fat dairy products tend to include processed food ingredients and lead to excess calorie consumption. Full-fat dairy products have many important health benefits including a feeling of satiety that lends to less calorie consumption throughout the day. Naturally occurring milk sugar, also known as lactose, is found in higher concentrations in fat-free and reduced-fat dairy products. Fat also helps to stabilize blood sugar by blunting the glycemic impact of foods. This means that when you consume full-fat dairy products, they contain less sugar and the fat it contains helps keep blood sugars more stable than their reduced-fat or fat-free counterparts. Full-fat dairy products contain conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a naturally occurring fatty acid with anti-obesity effects that aid in reducing your risk for cardiovascular disease, promoting bone health, and easing digestive comfort, as well as many other health benefits.
The last on our healthy Wisconsin foods list is booyah, a traditional meat stew packed with vegetables and broth. Booyah is a staple in Northeastern Wisconsin. Those of Belgian heritage know that this comfort food can take up to two days and multiple chefs to prepare as it is usually made in batches of up to 50 gallons! Traditionally prepared with pork, beef, or chicken, there is great debate surrounding the inclusion of cabbage. Other ingredients include vegetables, a thick broth, and a blend of seasonings unique to each chef. While stews are generally a winter season favorite, booyah is enjoyed year-round. Check out this website for a listing of some of the best places to enjoy a steaming hot bowl (or two) of this traditional Wisconsin favorite!
Wisconsin foods aren’t all unhealthy. It’s up to YOU to make good choices. If you need assistance with what to eat, set up a nutrition consultation with me!Schedule a Nutrition Consultation
Sarah is certified in food allergies/intolerances and nutritional counseling, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; has a certificate in Dietetics from Mount Mary University; and a BA in Education and Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.