Gymnasts, summer is officially here!
It's hard to believe it's already almost June! With Memorial Day Weekend here and the unofficial start of summer, you'll probably go to your fair share of barbecues... fun right?!
But...does the thought of all the food in front of you at large cookouts or the lack of supposed "healthy" foods you think you SHOULD eat stress you out? Do you struggle with an all-or-nothing mindset where you HAVE to either eat completely "good" or entirely relax and eat anything and everything you want but feel out of control around all of the food?
If you're no stranger to my blog posts, you've heard me say that there's no such thing as "perfect nutrition"; instead there's a middle-ground - where you can incorporate BOTH nutrient dense and fun foods into your fueling plan.
Striving to find that middle-ground is going to help you enjoy all the barbecues and events you go to this summer! Any food can be fuel for your body!
I mean, look around! I bet you can find plenty of foods to build your plate with!
Protein can be found in hamburgers, hotdogs, grilled chicken, steaks, shrimp, veggie burgers, and more!
Foods like pasta salad, potato salad, buns, & cornbread are great starches!
And those grilled veggies, corn on the cob, fresh salads, amazing fresh fruit (watermelon season is here 🍉), they are SO COLORFUL and still filled with nutrients! And your favorite summer dessert?
At a barbecue, you can still use your athlete's plate as a guide. Shoot for
1/3 plate of protein
1/3 plate of carbs
1/3 plate of color
And relax a bit! Enjoy those chips or a cookie (or two) if you want them! There are plenty of foods that we eat every day that are more than just "fuel".
It's important to remember that nutrition (like gymnastics) is all about balance.
Remember to enjoy the time outside in beautiful weather (finally!) with friends and family instead of stressing about food! Years from now, you'll want to remember the memories with others and not what you did or didn't eat on one specific day.
Memorial Day Recipes
To me, a summer BBQ always has to have great food! Here are some recipes that scream summer to welcome in the new season!
Summer Mixed Berry Salad
Welcome summer with a refreshing (and festive!) mixed berry salad! A salad like this is full of vitamins and minerals gymnasts need to stay healthy, as well as including some carbohydrates from the fruit, healthy fats from the nuts, and some protein from the cheese and chicken (or other protein if you choose to add one)!
8 cups spring mix
2 ounces feta cheese
1/2 cup diced strawberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup raspberries
1/2 cup diced apples
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup pecans
store bought or homemade dressing of choice (here's a homemade raspberry vinaigrette recipe!)
Optional: add grilled chicken or some roasted chickpeas for added protein!
Combine blueberries, strawberries, apples, feta cheese, and spring mix in a large bowl. Toss with desired amount of dressing.
Garnish with pecans and dried cranberries.
Add chicken, chickpeas, or other protein (if using).
Rainbow Pasta Salad
Pasta salad is my go-to summer party appetizer! Gymnasts, 1/4-1/2 of your plate can (and should) be carbohydrates and color, and pasta salad checks off both! You can help make this easy recipe for your MDW barbecue and even modify to add your favorite veggies and swap out the ones you don't like!
1 pound dried pasta like fusilli, penne, rotini or farfalle (bow tie)
1 cup sliced bell pepper (1 medium)
1 cup thinly sliced zucchini (1/2 medium)
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions (5 to 6)
1/4 cup sliced pepperoncini or banana peppers, optional
1 cup (4 ounces) halved mixed olives
1 cup (2 ounces) grated parmesan cheese or hard cheese
1 cup (6 ounces) fresh mozzarella balls, chopped
1/3 cup fresh parsley or basil, optional
For the Dressing:
1/3 cup red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 to 3 tablespoons juice from pepperoncini jar, optional
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until tender, 6 to 10 minutes (check the package for recommended cook time). Drain and rinse well under cold water.
While the pasta cooks, in the bottom of a large bowl, make the dressing. Whisk the red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, oregano, pepperoncini juice (if using), and the olive oil until blended. Add the drained and rinsed pasta to the dressing and mix well.
Stir in the bell pepper, zucchini, tomatoes, scallions, pepperoncini (if using), olives, parmesan, mozzarella, and the herbs (if using). Taste for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper as needed. Serve or for the best results, cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 5 days.
Recipe from Inspired Taste!
Is it really a summer barbecue without a burger? You can either buy some from the store or make on your own from this super simple recipe! Either way, turkey is a great source of protein for gymnasts, and the whole burger incorporates protein, starches, and vegetables (color aka great sources of many vitamins and minerals)!
Ingredients (makes 12 burgers):
3 pounds ground turkey
¼ cup seasoned bread crumbs
¼ cup finely diced onion
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
In a large bowl, mix ground turkey, seasoned bread crumbs, onion, egg whites, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper. Form into 12 patties.
Cook the patties in a medium skillet or on a grill over medium heat, turning once, to an internal temperature of 180 degrees F (85 degrees C).
Recipe from All Recipes!
It's not summer without using the grill, and salmon is a great source of protein and essential omega-3 fats that gymnasts need!
4 6-8 ounce skin-on salmon fillets about 1-inch thick
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 lemon cut into wedges
tarter or cucumber dill sauce or any other desired sauce (optional)
Prepare the grill for direct cooking over high heat, 450°F-550°F. Brush the cooking grates with a hgih-heat oil and close the lid to heat.
Generously coat the flesh side of the salmon fillets with oil and season evenly with salt and black pepper. Grill the salmon skin side down over direct high heat with the lid closed, for about 6-8 minutes or until the fish lightens in color, becomes more firm to the touch and you can lift the fillets off the cooking grates without them sticking.
Turn the salmon over, close the lid, and cook to 130°F or about 2-4 minutes for medium rare or longer to desired doneness. Transfer to a platter to rest for 1-2 minutes. Slide the salmon skin from the fillets and serve with wedges of lemon and tartar or cucumber dill sauce.
Recipe inspired by Foodie Crush!
This recipe has been one of my favorites over the last few years! It's light, refreshing, and surprisingly delicious!
1/2C panko breadcrumbs
1/2 medium onion
2 cloves of garlic
1/4C fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
Add any seasonings you'd like! For a little extra kick, I add in my favorite peach habanero hot sauce!
In the bowl of a food processor, put 1/2 the shrimp, the egg, onion and seasonings. Pulse to combine
Cut the remainder of the shrimp into 1/4 inch pieces. Mix the shrimp chunks and breadcrumbs into the mixture (adding a little more breadcrumbs if mixture is too wet).
Form the mixture into 4 patties. Place on a plate and refrigerate for 15 minutes, allowing them to set.
Heat your grill (or an oiled skillet) to medium high heat. Cook the burgers for 3-4 minutes each side, until the shrimp are pink all the way through.
Enjoy on a bun with your favorite toppings! Mine include lettuce, tomato, avocado, and homemade peach jam!
Corn on the Cob
I don't know about anyone else, but to me corn on the cob is the epitome of summer barbecues. Corn is a good source of carbohydrates, fiber, potassium, and some B vitamins, which are all important for gymnasts to eat! There are a lot of ways to make corn on the cob, but at a barbecue, the best way to make corn is grilling it!
4 or more ears corn, in their husks
Butter and salt, for serving
Any other desired flavorings/seasonings (optional)
Heat the grill: Prepare an indoor or outdoor grill for high, direct heat.
Prepare the corn: Trim the silk from the top of each ear to prevent it from catching fire and burning. Peel away the first layer of husks and remove the stalk end using a serrated knife to expose the bottom of the ear. This will make it easier to slide the ear of the husk, post grilling. (Optional: Peel back a 1-inch section to expose the kernels and char some of the corn.)
Grill the corn for 15 to 20 minutes: Place the corn on the grill, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover, turn the corn, and cook 5 minutes more. Repeat, turning at 5-minute intervals, until the husks are have grill mark
Cool the corn: Remove the ears from the grill and cool for 5 minutes. Then you should be able to easily pull back the husks and silk. Serve with butter and salt (and/or any other desired seasonings)
Recipe from The Kitchn!
Put that grill to use and add this delicious starch to your plate as a great source of carbohydrates!
2 lbs. red potatoes
¼ cup olive oil (or other high heat oil)
1t garlic powder
1 teaspoon rosemary
¾ teaspoon oregano
¾ teaspoons thyme
¾ teaspoons sage
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Combine the spices for the potato seasoning. Drizzle most of the olive oil over the spice mix and stir well to combine. Only add the remaining oil to the potatoes if necessary.
Slice the potatoes into ½ inch thick slices.
Place the potato slices into a large bowl and drizzle them with the olive oil/seasoning mix. Toss to combine well.
Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
Layer two large pieces of foil down and lightly coat it with cooking spray.
Place the potatoes on top of the foil, in a single layer if possible. Cover with foil and seal it shut.
Place the foil packet on the grill and shut the lid. Heat for 20 minutes.
Flip the potatoes and heat for an additional 5-10 minutes.
Remove from the grill and serve!
Inspired by The Cozy Cook!
Frozen Greek Yogurt Fruit Cups
Beat the summer heat with these simple, refreshing, and delicious Greek yogurt cups. These are a refreshing sweet treat that also provides important nutrients like protein and calcium from the yogurt and lots of other nutrients from the fruit! You can include any fruits you like to add variety and suit your tastes!
Strawberries, Blueberries, and Raspberries (or any other fruit of choice), washed
1 1/2 cups plain or flavored Greek yogurt of choice
Arrange 12 cupcake liners in a muffin tin.
Using a spoon, dollop about two tablespoons of yogurt (or more if you want) into the bottom of each liner.
Top with strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.
Freeze for at least two hours.
Remove cupcake liners before serving.
Inspired by Tasty!
Red, White, and Blueberry Trifle
Ring in the holiday weekend with this festive dessert! Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too, and you have have some added color from the fruit! (Just make sure you don't add any beef with peas and onions... Friends anyone?)
10 oz angel food cake, cut into 1-inch cubes*
2 pints strawberries, sliced
2 pints blueberries
For the cream filling:
6 tbsp fat-free sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups cold water
1 4 oz package white chocolate or cheesecake instant pudding mix
12 oz frozen whipped topping, thawed
1. Whisk the condensed milk and water in a bowl.
2. Whisk in the pudding mix for 2 minutes.
3. Let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set; fold in the whipped topping.
Arrange half of the cake in the bottom of a 14-cup trifle dish.
Sprinkle evenly with a layer of blueberries.
Spread half of the cream mixture over the blueberries and gently spread (I piped it using a plastic bag and cut the corner off).
Top with a layer of strawberries.
Layer the remaining cake cubes on top of the strawberries, then add more blueberries and top with the remaining cream mixture.
Finish with the remaining strawberries and blueberries, arranging them in a pretty pattern.
Cover and refrigerate at least one 1 hour.
Inspired by Skinny Taste!
Gymnasts, it's always important to remember to hydrate, whether you're at the gym or not! As temperatures go up for summer, this becomes even more important! But, hydration doesn't have to be boring with drinks like fruit infused water!
4 cups of water
~1/4-1/2 cup of desired fruits/vegetables/herbs (more = stronger flavor), sliced
Some combinations I love include:
lemon + lime
blackberry + mint
blueberry + orange
strawberry + cucumber
blueberry + lemon
strawberry + blueberry
watermelon + kiwi + lime
Place the fruit and/or herbs of your choice into a clean glass jar with a lid or a glass pitcher.
Muddle (or break) up the fruit and herbs a bit with the back of a spoon to help release natural flavors.
Cover with 4 cups of water and place in refrigerator for at least 3 hours, or 12 hours for really flavorful, tangy water.
After 24 hours, remove the fruit and herbs to prevent the water from becoming bitter.
Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Recipe inspired by A Mind "Full" Mom!
No matter which recipes you whip up and what's on your plate this weekend, remember to enjoy time with friends and/or family and welcome the summer weather instead of stressing over one day of eating! You can enjoy all of your barbecue favorites while also still fueling yourself!