It’s almost Memorial Day -- the unofficial start of summer! Memorial day weekend often means a weekend full of barbecues and party foods (which can be a source of stress or anxiety for many gymnasts).
Its times like these where many gymnasts struggle with an all-or-nothing mindset (where you HAVE to either eat completely "healthy" or eat anything and everything you want but feel out of control). If you are feeling stressed about what to eat at these celebrations, you are not alone. It can feel overwhelming to have so many choices and to be surrounded by fun party foods that you don’t normally eat.
What works for many gymnasts that have a positive and healthy relationship with all foods at these types of events is to find a middle ground, where you can incorporate both nutrient dense foods and fun foods on your plate. By finding this middle ground, you can enjoy all the barbecues and events this coming weekend (and all summer long) without feeling overwhelmed or anxious.
After all, any food can be fuel for your body!
At a barbecue or party, you can still use your Athlete's Plate as a guide, to fuel your body even at an event.
This weekend try building your plate with:
1/4 to 1/3 of your plate from protein
Barbecues usually mean grilling so there are typically tons of protein options such as burgers, hotdogs, grilled chicken, steaks, kebobs, veggie burgers, shrimp, salmon and more!
1/4 to 1/3 of your plate from grains and starches
Barbecue staples that have starches include pasta salad, potato salad, buns, rolls, cornbread, and more!
1/3 to 1/2 of your plate from color
Don’t forget to add some colorful fruits and veggies to your plate! Dishes like corn, coleslaw, grilled veggies, salads, fresh fruit, fruit popsicles, and more are super fresh and delicious this time of year!
1/4 (or whatever feels right to you) of your plate with fun foods!
Don’t forget to have fun as well and enjoy the special treats! There are plenty of foods that we eat every day that are more than just "fuel". Add that cookie or slice of cake to your plate or grab that fun drink. It's important to remember that nutrition (like gymnastics) is all about balance. One food, one meal, or one day will not change your body or your health. You want to look back on celebrations like these and remember the fun times you had with family and friends, not the time you spent worrying about the food.
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!
The first thing I think of when I think of a barbecue is burgers! I don’t know about you guys, but my family loves turkey burgers, especially when they are stuffed with different veggies. This burger is the perfect way to incorporate protein, starches and veggies! You can choose to add even more color to this recipe by adding lettuce and tomato to your burger at the end.
Ingredients (makes 4 burgers)
1T olive oil
½ cup onion, finely diced (this is important, especially when serving to little ones)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup finely diced green bell pepper
¼ cup finely diced red bell pepper
½ cup finely grated carrot
1 pound ground turkey (or other ground meat)
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon barbecue sauce
Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Once oil is shimmering, add the onion and peppers and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the carrot and garlic and let cook for another minute or two to warm through and then remove the pan from heat and set aside.
Place the turkey in a bowl, mash lightly with a fork, season with salt and pepper, and add the barbecue sauce. Add the cooked vegetables and mix thoroughly to combine. Shape into 6 patties.
Heat a grill (or grill pan) over medium-high heat. When hot, add the patties and cook for 4-5 minutes per side or until no longer pink on the inside (or reaches an internal temperature of 165F).
Recipe from Inspiralized!
Another tasty burger option are grilled salmon burgers. Salmon is a great source of protein and essential Omega-3 fats that gymnasts need!
Ingredients (makes 4 burgers):
One pound minced salmon
4 tablespoons bread crumbs
2 tablespoons minced shallot
2 tablespoons chopped dill
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 burger buns
Preheat grill to high heat and brush grates with oil.
In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and mix to evenly combine. Form 4 patties, about 6 ounces each.
Place the patties on the grill and let cook for 3 minutes before attempting to turn. Flip and cook for another 2 minutes for medium-well doneness (cook longer if desired).
Serve on toasted buns with some tartar sauce, lettuce and tomato.
Recipe from Today!
A staple food at summer barbecues for me are kabobs! Kabobs are fun because you can mix them up however you want by using any protein source and any assortment of vegetables. This particular recipe is for a grilled chicken kabob.
1 lb boneless chicken breasts (approximately 2-3 chicken breasts)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tsp honey
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 red onion (cut into 1 inch pieces)
1 zucchini (sliced into ½ inch slices)
1 yellow squash (sliced into ½ inch slices)
1 red bell pepper (deseeded and cut into 1 inch pieces)
Cut the chicken into 1-2 inch pieces.
Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, honey, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Marinade the chicken refrigerated with the sauce ingredients either in a bowl or a large ziplock bag for at least 30 minutes (but no more than 2 hours as the vinegar will break down the chicken)
If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least 20 minutes prior to assembling to prevent burning.
Preheat the grill to a medium high heat and spray the grill with a non-stick cooking spray or brush the grates with olive oil to prevent the kabobs from sticking to the grill.
Prepare the kabobs by threading the chicken and veggies onto the wooden skewers until all the chicken and veggies are on the skewers.
Grill the kabobs for approximately 10-15 minutes (turning every few minutes to cook evenly) until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165F and the veggies are the tenderness that you prefer.
Recipe from Eating on a Dime!
Grilled Veggie Pasta Salad
Pasta salad is so easy to make and any summer cookout isn't complete without it. There are plenty of pasta salad recipes out there, but here is just one you can use. This particular recipe incorporates chickpeas as a protein source along with the color and grains! Use your imagination and swap out any of the veggies.
8 ounces (230 g) mini farfalle pasta or any other similar flat pasta
1 cup chopped tomatoes or sliced cherry tomatoes
1 large zucchini
1 red bell pepper
1/2 of a red onion
15 ounce (425 g) can of chickpeas or 1 1/4 cup of cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup chopped basil or use mint
For the dressing:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2 tablespoons water as needed
Cook the pasta according to instructions. Then rinse in cold water and set aside.
Chop the tomatoes. Slice the zucchini slightly diagonally for grilling. Slice your bell peppers into 1/4 inch thick slices.
Slice the onion into a half-inch wedge and either use a skewer or a toothpick to hold them together.
Then brush a grill pan with oil and place the zucchini, peppers, and onion on the grill pan.
Brush the zucchini, peppers, and onion on top with oil. Add a dash of salt and pepper.
Grill over medium-high heat until you get good grill marks of both sides then set aside. Keep pressing the veggies occasionally. Remove toothpicks/skewers when done
To make the dressing, combine everything in a bowl and mix well until evenly mixed.
Add all the salad ingredients to a large bowl - pasta, tomatoes, grilled zucchini, grilled bell peppers, grilled onions, chickpeas , basil and toss well.
Then add the dressing and toss well. Taste and adjust flavor and serve immediately.
Recipe from Vegan Richa
Corn on the Cob
Every time my family barbecues during the summer, we have corn on the cob. Corn is so tasty grilled and it is a good source of carbohydrates, fiber, potassium, and some B vitamins, which are all important for gymnasts to eat!
4 ears of corn
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
salt & pepper to taste
Preheat grill to medium heat.
Remove husks and silk from corn. Brush each piece with olive oil.
Place corn directly on the grill and cook 10-15 minutes turning occasionally.
Remove from grill and serve with butter, salt & pepper to taste.
American Flag Fruit Kabobs
If you loved the recipe for some savory kabobs, now here is one for something sweet! How cute are these patriotic kabobs for Memorial Day?
1 pint fresh strawberries, halved or quartered
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 angel food cake or pound cake, cut into 1 inch cubes
To create an American flag, thread about 6 blueberries on 4-5 of your skewers, followed by alternating cake and strawberry pieces. Start with cake (just below the blueberries) and end with a strawberry.
On 5-7 additional skewers, alternate cake and strawberries, making sure as you go that the fruit and cake align on your skewers to create stripes. The number of skewers you need will depend on the size of flag you want to create.
Arrange the skewers on a plate or serving tray to resemble an American flag.
Recipe from What’s For Dinner
Red White and Blueberry Cake
During the summer I love fruit based desserts - they are just so refreshing! I also love a good piece of cake too though, and this fun recipe combines both! This berry cake uses patriotic colors and includes tons of nutrients from seasonal fruit, like anthocyanins from the blueberries which have been shown to be both an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory, giving them an important role in recovery.
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups flour plus 1 Tbsp.
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup raspberries
1/2 cup blueberries
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Grease a 9 x 9-inch pan. Set aside.
Place 1 cup blueberries in a small bowl and stir them gently with 1 Tbsp. of flour. Set aside.
For the cake, in a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy.
Add 2 cups flour, 4 eggs, lemon juice and vanilla.
Mix until fully combined.
Next, gently fold the blueberries into the batter.
Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a wooden pick comes out clean.
To make the topping, in a large bowl, using a hand mixer on medium-high speed, beat the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla until firm peaks form.
Once the cake is completely cooled spread the whipped cream evenly over the cake and top with raspberries and blueberries.
Refrigerate and serve cold.
Recipe from Ciao Chow Bambina