The Best Summer Food in Every State
By Bianca Mendez
From lobster rolls in the east to avocados in the west, these are the best summer foods from coast-to-coast.
If going on a road trip is at the top of your summer bucket list, consider making it a food-related one. Venturing into different states can be like visiting a different culture with its own cuisine. From New York’s famous hot dogs to California’s creamy avocados, here’s the grub you can’t miss in the U.S. of A. Find your state and see if you agree! And while you're at it, why don't you see if you've ever been to The Best Pizza Places in Every State.
Alabama: Fried Green Tomatoes
An around-the-year staple in Alabama, you can’t help but munch on this southern favorite when a county fair comes along. Here’s a fun fact about green tomatoes: a study found that tomatine, a compound found in these fruits, can up your muscle strength by 30 percent! Sure, the fact that they’re fried does not make it healthy at all, but the green tomato must count for something, right?
Blueberries, cranberries, blackberries––you name it! Alaska’s wilderness turf is great for growing a large variety of berries. In fact, berry picking is a common activity and allows for endless smoothie combinations to choose from. Not to mention, you’ll reap tons of nutritional benefits like antioxidants and fiber; berries rank high on our exclusive list of 15 Most Antioxidant-Packed Fruits & Veggies—Ranked!
Arkansas is home to one of the biggest watermelon festivals in the country, which makes this fruit a summer favorite! This water-dense food is great for fighting belly bloat and keeping you cool for summer nights.
Squash is one of the foods of the indigenous people who settled in Arizona and reaches its peak in late summer. Summer squash offers a rich amount of fiber, manganese, magnesium, and folate, proving that it’s a huge nutritional player. Serve it in a salad or bake a delicious veggie lasagna with it.
Typically, you can get this fiber-rich food at any time of the year, but it’s summer when avocado reaches its peak in northern California. Avocados are a great source of healthy fats and one of our favorite weight loss foods. You can make smoothies, use it as a baking substitute, or make some delicious avocado toast! In fact, here are 18 Tasty Ways to Satisfy Your Avocado Cravings to help you get started.
Not a food, but what’s better than an ice cold, fresh brewskie in the summer? Colorado is proud of their 300 plus microbreweries available in the state, with brews ranging from pale ales to darker varieties. Our suggestion when sampling their unique brews? Stick to dark beer, which is known to be brimming with B vitamins. Score more beer perks by checking out these 23 Healthy Benefits of Alcohol.
Connecticut: Lobster Roll
You can go pretty much anywhere in New England to munch on a buttery, decadent lobster roll, but Connecticut reigns as the top spot. In fact, this popular summer dish is originally from Milford, Connecticut! Ask for a roll that’s barely buttered to help slash calories and stay bikini ready.
Delaware: Ice Cream
The dairy industry in Delaware is top-notch, which means you can find tons of local creameries all over this tiny state. Just remember, we love ice cream as much as the next person, but please keep the portions to half a cup.
Aside from being the home of Mickey Mouse, beaches, and that bustling Miami party scene, you’re as close to the grove as you can get in Florida. The sunshine state is widely known as the Vitamin C MVP because of their oranges. And aside from being a killer immunity booster, they’re also rich in fiber, potassium, and cancer-fighting citrus limonoids.
My my, you’re as sweet as a Georgia peach! It’s no surprise that peaches are Georgia’s top summer food. They’re harvested between May and August, so you can be sure that you’re getting the juiciest of the crop. By the way, did you know that peaches are high in sorbitol? Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol that acts like a laxative to help move things along in our intestinal tract, ultimately helping relieve constipation. It’s why they’re one of the 23 Foods to Help you Poop.
Along with the beaches and luaus, numerous pineapple plantations are found in Hawaii. This fruit is considered to be nature’s version of Red Bull, thanks its high source of manganese (a trace mineral that’s essential for energy production). So, if you’re feeling groggy from jet-lag, much on this as a snack!
Did you see this one coming? Idaho’s potatoes are famous all over America. Chances are good that your french fries come from one of the many potato fields in the “Gem State.” Whatever you do, don’t toss out the skins; they’re the healthiest part of the potato.
Light, airy, and one of the healthier snacks out there, popcorn was crowned Illinois’ state snack back in 2003. Chicago offers other famous summer foods like hot dogs and deep dish pizza, but there’s also a Chicago-style popcorn made up of a blend of caramel and cheese. That said, eating a buttered-drenched concoction is like staying out until 2 a.m.--you end up with a lot of regrets. Instead, try these 20 Delicious Ways to Dress Up Your Popcorn.
Indiana: Pork Tenderloin Sandwich
While this is admittedly more popular in southern Indiana than in the north, this item is like a crispy chicken sandwich swapped with juicy pork. Crowned as one of Indiana’s iconic foods, you’ll find this sandwich everywhere from diners to the state fair. Next time you order one, ask to bake it instead of frying for a leaner version of the popular meal.
With cornfields as far as the eye can see, it’s no wonder that this state is proud to have the best supply of this fiber-rich food. But if you’re going to nosh on corn this summer, make sure to stick to sweet corn, which is on the Clean 15 list.
When it comes to barbecue, this “plain state” isn’t so plain. As the third largest beef capital in the world, barbecue food in Kansas beats out those of Texas and Tennessee. Take their ribs, for example. They’re slow-smoked, burnt on the edges, and covered in thick molasses and tomato sauce. Yum!
Kentucky: Fried Chicken
We bet you didn’t see this one coming. You can say that Kentucky’s fried chicken is nationally recognized, but aside from the popular fast food chain, this state is home to other restaurants where the chicken is finger lickin’ good. We know that a baked version isn’t the same, but it’s certainly a smart swap for this classic summer dish.
As of 2005, Louisiana supplies 95 percent of the crawfish harvested in the United States from aquaculture. These “mudbugs” can be boiled or steamed and are a great source of protein and omega-3s. Of course, you’ll need to eat 25 of them to reap the benefits—so when you come to Louisiana, come hungry.
Maine: Corn Chowder
New England is known for their hearty clam chowder, but in Maine, they like to add some corn to the mix. Corn chowder is a creamy, rich dish that you’ll find yourself craving once the warm weather hits. Make a healthier version at home with the recipe seen in the 20 Sweet Potatoes Recipes for Weight Loss.
Crabs during summertime in Maryland is like avocado and toast; they just go together. Maryland has a high population of blue crab, one of the most nutritious and safe-to-eat seafood. The secret to why these crabs taste so darn good in this state is because they steam them instead of boiling them. Blue crabs, in particular, are a great source of protein and omega-3s.
Massachusetts: Fried Clams
If chowdah is too heavy for you during summer, just try one of Massachusetts’ many clam eateries. After being closed for winter, people can’t wait to get their hands on the clammy goodness. And here’s a little secret about these small mollusks: they are the world’s greatest source of Vitamin B12 (according to the FDA, that is).
Summer means it’s cherry season and you’ll find the ripest, juiciest ones in all the land in Michigan. Cherries were first cultivated in the Traverse City area and became a Michigan favorite ever since. And here’s a little nutrition info for you: One cup of cherries clocks in at fewer than 100 calories and boasts B vitamins, cancer-fighting flavonoids, and three grams of fiber. They’re also marked as a natural sleep aid, thanks to their melatonin content.
These fish love to appear during the warmest days of summer, and in Minnesota, the supply is always plentiful. In fact, it’s their state fish! Walleye has a whopping 21 grams of protein and is one of the healthiest fish you can eat.
Being close to the Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi has access to the best shrimp. While the “Magnolia State” always makes news as the unhealthiest state in America, shrimp is a low-fat, low-calorie shellfish that can be enjoyed weekly, due to its low mercury content. It’s also rich in iodine which, which is crucial for your metabolism-running thyroid hormones. Speaking of metabolism, see if you’re guilty of any of these 31 Ways You Messed Up Your Metabolism Today.
Whether it’s in pie, jam, or just eating them as is, people in Missouri are obsessed with their strawberries. In fact, Missouri hosts three festivals dedicated to the nutritious fruit. Strawberries are great for satisfying sweet cravings and are packed with polyphenols, which can help you burn fat and even stop it from forming. Throw them in oatmeal, smoothies, and salads for an extra boost of nutrition.
Montana: Bison Burgers
Bored with beef? Montana is more than just mountains; it’s home to some of the more leanest and meanest meats out there, like bison. Bison is half the fat and fewer calories than red meat, and a single serving can give you a day’s worth of B-12 vitamins. No wonder it’s one of the Meats That Burn Fat.
There’s nothing like a steak sizzling on the grill, especially if the meat is from Nebraska. This state is one of the largest beef capitals of the USA (the cow population is larger than the people population in this state), which means steaks are plentiful. When it comes to beef, go for the grass-fed. It may not be cheapest of options, but your abs will thank you.
Nevada: All-You-Can-Eat Buffets
We thought about nominating Advil as the state food, thanks to how many people pop 'em on Sunday mornings after a night of Sin City action. But the tourist-driven, all-you-can-eat buffets in Las Vegas are just as popular. The issue with all-you-can-eat buffets is that they can easily turn into a health disaster. Our tip? Always use the smaller plates when serving yourself; it’s one of The Best 50 Weight Loss Tips!
New Hampshire: Fish
Like many other parts of New England, New Hampshire’s coast is home to some of the best seafood. Clams, cod, oysters––you name it! If you can’t decide what to get, don’t miss our exclusive, in-depth report on Every Popular Fish–Ranked for Nutritional Benefits.
New Jersey: Salt Water Taffy
Get this: Over 600,000 pounds of taffy is sold each year in the Garden State. Walk down the boardwalk in Atlantic City and you’ll find just about every flavor imaginable. Of course, this candy is made of mostly sugar and artificial ingredients. So, why we don’t exactly encourage sugary food at Eat This, Not That!, sneaking in a few bites won’t hurt. Just watch your intake and savor the small portion.
New Mexico: Chilies
Red or green? No, we’re not talking about Christmas, we’re talking about chili peppers, New Mexico’s official state food. Not only are they a great way to fire up your meals (pun totally intended), but eating these peppers can boost your metabolism. The compound that gives the peppers their signature fire, capsaicin, has been proven to reduce belly fat, suppress appetite, and boost thermogenesis (the body’s ability to burn food as energy). Lose weight while on vacay? Heck ya!
New York: Hot Dogs
Whether it’s a baseball game or from a street vendor, you can find a hot dog anywhere in New York City. New Yorkers love hot dogs so much that they host a hot dog eating contest every Fourth of July in Coney Island, the birthplace of the hot dog. While we don’t recommend scarfing down 62 hot dogs in one sitting, having one dog when you hit up the Big Apple won’t kill you. Just don’t make it a habit.
North Carolina: Pulled Pork
When barbecue season hits the “Tar Heel State,” it’s all about the pork. Pulled pork is a favorite for North Carolinians because of its vinegar-based sauce that’s sweet, spicy, and tangy. Just be mindful of the sauce; the average pulled pork sandwich has a whopping 24 grams of sugar.
North Dakota: Sauerkraut
North Dakota’s cuisine is inspired by Norwegian, German, and Russian cultures, which is why sauerkraut is so popular there. What Americans think of as a topping for hot dogs is actually one of the 14 Awesome Fermented Foods to Fit in Your Diet. Made from fermented cabbage, it contains natural compounds that have potent cancer-fighting and belly-slimming properties. Unpasteurized sauerkraut has more probiotic potency than yogurt, which boosts the healthy flora in the intestinal tract and bolsters your immune system.
Ohio: Kettle Corn
Nothing beats a box of fresh kettle corn from the Ohio State Fair. Ohio has numerous of kettle corn vendors producing this sweet and salty snack not just to locals but to people outside the state as well. Not in Ohio? Find a brand with the least amount of sugar and enjoy guilt-free.
Oklahoma: Chicken Fried Steak
Crispy, crunchy, chicken fried steak is proud to be the national meal in Oklahoma. Deep fried and topped with a sauce, you’ll find this meal in almost every restaurant. It’s likely to be a calorie bomb, though, so bake the chicken if possible.
A marion is a hybrid blackberry made by USDA-ARS program in Oregon. The sweet-tart taste has Oregon hooked, officially becoming the state berry in 2009. So what’s the best way to eat this berry? Make a pie out of it to enjoy its rich flavor.
Pennsylvania: Philly Cheesesteak
In West Philadelphia, born and raised. A Philly cheesesteak is a hoagie packed with onions, beef, and cheese wiz, although American and provolone are quite common. But we’re gonna be honest: this is a nutritional nightmare. Again, we don’t condone this monstrosity, but when in Rome—er, Philly—we suppose it's okay. Here’s a low-calorie cheese steak sandwich, though, if you want to make one at home!
Rhode Island: Calamari
Sure, it may be the smallest state, but it packs a big punch when it comes to seafood. It has some of the best calamari in the USA, but what’s really notable about it is how they serve it. In RI, it’s lightly battered instead of deep fried.
South Carolina: Sweet Tea
South Carolina is rumored to be the birthplace of sweet tea. Sweet tea is a mix of black tea and lots of sugar and is a popular drink in the south. While we’re not thrilled about the sugar, black tea is a step in the right direction since it’s one of the 22 Best Teas for Weight Loss.
South Dakota: Chislic
Chislic is a fancy way of saying “meat on the stick,” and it has been enjoyed by South Dakota bar-goers for years. Usually made of beef, lamb, or venison, chislic is usually served kebab style with peppers and onions. So, next time you’re in a bar in South Dakota and are craving some meat, opt for grass-fed beef to reap the muscle-building benefits.
Every state will claim that they have the best barbecue. But while everyone is all about the pork, it’s all about the beef in the Lone Star State. That’s right; we’re talking about brisket. It’s a smokey, tender hunk of beef that you won’t want to miss!
Like Kansas and Texas, Tennessee is home to some tasty barbecue—but with a different twist. Ribs here are made wet with a barbecue or dried with spices and then cooked in a charcoal pit. And just so you know, a 6-ounce half-rack serving of ribs provides about 10 mg of B3 or half your daily value for the vitamin.
Vermont: Apple Pie
Nothing screams “‘Merica!” like a traditional apple pie, which is why apples are the state food in Vermont. While most people associate apples with Fall, apple pie is a big hit in summer barbecues.
Burgers in Virginia are a force to be reckoned with. If you Google, “Best Burger in Virginia”, you’ll get dozens of listings with their own take on the best. Here, they’re meaty, and chefs don’t skimp on toppings or crazy concoctions. Here’s an Eat This tip: pack your burger with lots of toppings that promote fiber and healthy fats, like these Best Burgers for Weight Loss.
Ah, Washington, home of the two S’s: Starbucks and Salmon. That’s right, you can find the freshest batch of this fatty fish in the “Evergreen State.” Wild salmon is rich in healthy fats and omega-3s, but our advice to always choose the wild, no matter what.
West Virginia: Pepperoni Rolls
The year was 1927 when a man by the name of Guiseppe Argiro decided to put pepperoni into yeast rolls—and the pepperoni roll was born! West Virginia prides itself for being the home of this meat-and-cheese concoction. Now, pepperoni isn’t exactly the best-processed meat out there, but when in West Virginia...
Wisconsin: Beer Brats
Hit up the state fairs in the Wisconsin and you’ll see just about everyone eating a beer brat. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a sausage poached in beer and then cooked with onions and butter––basically the hot dog’s fratty older brother.
“Cowboy” cuisine is the talk of the town in Wyoming and nothing says “Howdy” like a piece of buffalo jerky. Wyoming is home to the largest buffalo herds in the country, so it’s no wonder that jerky is a popular food. And while you may cringe at the idea of eating dry meat it’s actually a great way to pack in your protein without the extra fat. And after a long hike in Yellowstone National Park, it makes a great post-workout snack. Take a look at our exclusive report on The Best and Worst Beef Jerky—Ranked!
Utah has the rep for growing the juiciest tomatoes in the USA. And when they peak in July, they’ll taste even better! Tomatoes are great for throwing into salads, sandwiches, or making a zesty sauce.
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