It’s about time you tried a Green Smoothie!

By Rita Larsen, RD; Elite Sports Clubs Dietitian and Nutrition Counselor

Many people are busy today with work and activities other than preparing meals. You may want to try this smoothie recipe as a fun addition to your meals.

One good suggestion is taking this to work with you after you have prepared it and frozen it in freezer cups. Then, throughout the day, you are able to take out of your lunch bag and let it defrost. Shake well and it is ready to drink!

Try a Green Smoothie

Reasons to hop on the Green Smoothie craze:

  • It can contain all the fruits and vegetables that you need daily.
  • It can also have additional ingredients based upon what you have on hand.
  • Protein powder can be added in the form of soy, whey, rice, or casein. If you do add one of these, you can consider this smoothie a complete meal!
  • It tastes great! See for yourself if this is something that would be tasty for breakfast, lunch, snack, or dinner!

Note: It is best to use a high powered blender. Don’t have one? Then just remove some of the peel from citrus.

Mmm Green is Good!

Green ingredients can often vary based upon your tastes. (But, not all greens are easy to blend!) Try these ingredients at your own pace:

  • Seedless cucumber, 1/3 to 1/2 English version
  • 1-large bunch Spinach (or Kale!), fresh and cleaned (sometimes it helps to freeze in advance)
  • 1-Kiwi, peeled and diced
  • 1-Avocado, peeled and diced
  • 1-Lime, whole including the rind, cut into at least 8 pieces

Try adding these for additional flavor, texture, & nutrition!

  • Bananas
  • Cuties or mandarin oranges, including the skin
  • Grapes
  • Flax Seeds, 2-Tbsp. or Flax Seed Oil
  • Plain or Greek yogurt

These smoothies provide all the nutrients that a meal could provide. They are especially high in antioxidants, B complex vitamins, minerals, such as iron and potassium, and are high in fiber.

Just another way to increase our nutritional strength without all the fuss in the kitchen!

Calories: 16-oz. portion for 175 calories; with 2-scoops of protein added, 16-oz portion for 375 calories. For more helpful nutritional advice and recipes, tell us a little more about your goals! Or check out our ongoing health & nutrition programming for everyone from children to adults!

There are MANY more possible green ingredients to include in smoothies. What are some of your own suggestions? Do you drink green smoothies?

3 Healthy Food Products Worth Trying

By Rita Larsen, RD; Elite Sports Clubs Dietitian & Nutrition Counselor

Every year we have changes in the rational of what makes for “good health” and what makes for “good food” products to support this health plan. This year we are following many new low cholesterol food selections and also we are looking at foods that are gluten free. You may be interested in taking a look at these items:

  1. Farm Fresh Eggland’s Best All Natural, Vegetarian Fed Hens Eggs:

    Eggland Broccoli Frittata These eggs are low in cholesterol (only 175 mg), but quite high in vitamin D, B12, and E. They are made from real shell eggs, but have no antibiotics, animal by-products, or added hormones. The eggs, I can tell you, are rich and delicious. (Check out this recipe for a Broccoli & Cheddar Frittata using Farm Fresh Egg.land’s Best All natural, Vegetarian Fed Hens Eggs.–I’d suggest also adding 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme, and 1 teaspoon of fresh basil to boost the flavor without adding calories!)

    Just how are these eggs produced? As mentioned, these are real eggs. Hens are fed a special combination of all-natural, vegetarian feed of healthy grains, canola oil, and an all-natural supplement of rice bran, alfalfa, sea kelp and vitamin E. And for our use at home, still comes out a natural egg. They are more expensive; but research has shown that these eggs, even consumed twice daily for a week, will not contribute to a higher cholesterol level. They may be worth a try!

  2. LÄRABAR snack bars:

    LARABARS The “original fruit and nut bar,” according to the company. They are gluten free, dairy free, soy free, vegan and kosher. Each bar is small but contains enough fruit to equal ¼ cup of fresh fruit. They each are 190 calories, so they are equal to any health bar recommended as a snack serving. The fiber and protein is fairly high. As most gluten free users can find it hard to find good food products, these rank high for taste and satisfaction. They are a little more expensive, as are most gluten free products. They would be worth your trying.

  3. Yonanas Banana Ice Cream Maker:

    Recently purchased at Target for $49.00, this machine was demonstrated at our Scamp Kids Nutrition program this summer at Elite Sports Club-Brookfield. Kids enjoyed seeing the bananas become a smooth ice dessert right in front of their eyes. Primarily, the machine works with bananas only, it can also handle additions such as strawberries, pineapple, and kiwi fruits. The object was to demonstrate yet another way of incorporating fruit into the children’s diet, and in a fun way.

    The machine is easy to operate and to clean up. I would still suggest an adult being nearby. Bananas are high in antioxidants and potassium. Children can participate preparing the bananas by peeling the skins off and placing in the freezer for 24 hours before making into the dessert. Overall, this is a fun activity for the entire family.

Staying in touch with new products and new appliances will help to increase the choices that you have to improve the quality of your diet and to keep your selections interesting! What new health foods or kitchen gadgets have become your favorites lately?

For more helpful nutritional tips & recipes, let us know a little bit more about your goals and we’ll get you in touch with our Registered Dietitian, Rita. You are also more than welcome to check out our other health & wellness programs offered at Elite Sports Clubs.

8 Tips for Knife Safety in Your Home

By Rita Larsen, RD; Elite Sports Clubs Nutrition & Diet Counselor

For class presentations at Elite Sports Clubs, we have often spent a fair amount of time talking about knife safety for preparing foods. It is a serious matter, as we often have children helping for food preparations. And keeping them safe, and ourselves, should be a primary goal. Purchase the best possible knives that you can as it is an important part of a wonderful meal. A good idea for a gift!

Knife Safety-Elite Sports Clubs

The safe use of knives is imperative for obvious reasons. There are only a few rules to remember, but they are crucial:

  1. A sharp knife is a safe knife. Using a dull knife is an invitation to disaster. If you try to force a dull knife through the surface of a food product, it’s more likely to slip and cause an injury. Also: if you do happen to cut yourself, a sharp knife will result in an easier wound to attend to.
  2. Never, ever grab a falling knife. The best way to avoid having to think about this rule is to make sure your knife is always completely on your work surface, without the handle sticking out into traffic areas. Inevitably, however, it will happen from time to time that you or someone else will bump a knife handle, resulting in a falling knife. We all have a natural instinct to grab for anything that’s falling. You must overcome this inclination. Remember: a falling knife has no handle. Just get your hands and feet out of the way.
  3. Use the right knife for the right job. Many knife injuries occur when laziness induces us to use the knife at hand rather than the correct knife for a job. Place your knife inventory where it is easily accessible so you won’t be tempted to make this mistake.
  4. Always cut away from – never towards – yourself. Sometimes this is a hard rule to follow. Again, don’t be lazy! If the angle is wrong, turn the product around. Or turn your cutting board around. By the way – if your cutting board doesn’t have rubber feet, you should place it atop a damp kitchen towel to make sure it doesn’t slide while you’re cutting.
  5. When you have a knife in hand, keep your eyes on the blade. This rule stands whether you are cutting something or carrying a knife. The simple fact is: you’re unlikely to cut yourself if you’re watching the blade, especially the tip. Another idea, don’t talk and cut.
  6. Carry a knife properly. If you’re carrying a knife through the kitchen, especially a busy kitchen, there are often people, and better, pets hurrying around. You must get used to the idea that the only way to walk with a knife in hand is to carry it pointed straight down, with the blade turned towards your thigh. Keep your arm rigid. You don’t want a family member going to the emergency room with a puncture wound from your knife.
  7. Never, ever put a knife in a sink full of water. In addition to soaking probably being bad for your knife handle, putting a knife in a sink full of (likely soapy) water is just asking for trouble. Wash your sharp knives by hand (not in a dishwasher!) and put them away immediately.
  8. Always cut on a cutting board. Don’t cut on metal, glass or marble. This will ultimately damage a knife’s edge.

At what age did you start including your children in the cooking of meals? When did you let them start using knives in the process? How did you teach them about knife safety?

Coming this Fall: “All in the Family Nutrition” a health and nutrition program offered by Elite Sports Clubs’ Registered Dietitian, Rita Larsen that involves each member of the family. Members work together for family-centered nutrition planning for meals and set goals for improved health and wellness. Each family member also monitors his or her own food intake. Plans are made for meal selections, grocery shopping, eating meals out, and making better snack choices. Offered by appointment to fit your family’s schedule. Contact Rita for pricing options and availability to start your “all in the family nutrition” program today!

Member Stories: Maria Pascente, “I am in control!”

We’re extremely proud of our members. Over the years their work out agendas and sporting endeavors serve as healthy examples of how it feels to be Elite, and how exercise not only adds years to your life, but life to your years! Today we’d like to highlight another member’s accomplishments:

Losing weight, ugh! For those of us who struggle with this, those two words are highly offensive curses. I am Maria Pascente and I have struggled with obesity my entire life.

It started in about second grade when I had to get the “girls plus” first communion dress and it has been “plus size” ever since. While I have lost hundreds of pounds in my life I have always managed to find them again. Joining West Brookfield Elite in 2007 was my first step in the right direction. I have had my fits and starts with exercise since joining the club but have always been encouraged by the staff to keep working at it.

After a series of rather stressful events in my life, I got back to the gym with a passion in December of 2010 and that started my road to success. I began with H20 Blast three times a week at Brookfield Elite and added from there as I became more fit. After losing close to 50 lbs with exercise and some food modifications, I found myself at a plateau that I could not seem to overcome. I was becoming discouraged and knew I needed to get some extra help.

I decided to turn to the club and through some inquiry I hooked up with Rita Larsen, RD. After meeting with her one-on-one for a while I started to see some success. Her practice style of what I will call “tough love with a smile” is what I needed. You see, what you put in your body is your choice, every carrot stick or cookie is 100% under my control. When you have struggled to control your weight your whole life, recognizing that you alone actually have the power to control it is a monumental task.

In January of this year I was a charter member in Rita’s “Lose It Now” program. I needed to really challenge myself and shake things up to a level that I had not achieved in many years. I lost 30 lbs in 13 weeks. I feel so much better about myself, I have more energy and I think I am finally learning how to maintain weight loss and keep it off for good. So, overall this program was successful for me and working with Rita works.

Last summer and fall I had another period of stressful events and I am happy to report that I was able to maintain my weight loss through it this time. I kept my 4-5 times a week workout schedule of Body Pump, Cardio and Pilates going as best I could, which is key. My ability to choose wisely and remember that I am in control, helped me succeed when in the past I would have gained it all back by now. My goal is to lose 50 more pounds and I intend to do it with Rita and Elite in 2013.

We are so proud of Maria! She is so positive about her weight loss journey and can truly be an example for us all! Submit your own “Elite” story! Or tweet us your workout wins (and woes) @MyEliteStory!

Do you feel like you are “in control” of your weight? It’s a tough question, but can be telling of your situation and motivation. Tell us about a time you felt in (or out of) control in the comments.

Four of the Best Foods You Should be Eating Regularly

By Rita Larsen, Elite Dietitian & Nutrition Counselor

For a long time, the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has been speaking in very general terms to “eat a variety of foods.” Today, scientists are able to be more specific about their research in order to target those foods that will help you prevent certain kinds of illnesses and disease processes. These include heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers—and promote better overall health. You can look better and feel better, too, when you eat a healthy diet. So, consider putting some of these foods to use in your eating plan today, and every day!

Berries

Berries at Farmers Market

According to the American Cancer Society, foods rich in vitamin C may lower the risk of cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. The antioxidants in berries may help maintain normal communication of the neurons in your brain. Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, and raspberries and blackberries are good sources too. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are also low in calories and high in fiber.

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous Vegetables

Vegetables in this family contain compounds called glucosinolates, which are being studied for possible anticancer effects. A new laboratory study shows that compounds in cruciferous vegetables can selectively target and kill cancer cells while leaving normal, healthy cells unaffected. The family includes broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale, turnips, radishes and watercress.

Nuts

Nut bowl

Almonds are rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant that may help protect against heart disease and promote brain health. Some research suggests that nutrients such as vitamin E may be important in lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Nuts also are high in protein and fiber (but also in fat, so be careful with portion size).

Whole Grains

Whole GrainsIn contrast to refined grains, such as white flour and white rice, whole grains are rich in fiber, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Eating whole instead of refined grains can help to lower cholesterol, triglycerides and insulin levels, decreasing the risk of heart disease. Eating whole grains can also reduce the risk of diabetes and improve digestive health. Refining wheat strips away significant amounts of vitamins B and E and virtually all of the fiber.

Courtesy of the American Cancer Society, and the Cotton—O’Neil Heart Center. Spring 2013, Heart Health News.

Sweet-and-Sour Savoy & Fennel Salad

Serves 4

Sweet Sour Savoy Fennel Salad

Ingredients:

• 1 ½ cups thinly sliced Savoy Cabbage (about 6 oz.) [or Napa Cabbage]
• 6 Tbs. Olive Oil
• ¾ lb. Fennel Bulb (sometimes called anise) stalks trimmed flush with bulb and bulb chopped fine (about ¾ cups)
• ¼ cup Water
• ¼ cup Cider Vinegar
• 1 cup Orange sections

Preparation:

1. Using a sharp knife cut cabbage and fennel in strips as you would for coleslaw.
2. Mix well.
3. Mix dressing ingredients together.
4. Pour over salad mixture.
5. Section orange and add.
6. Let set in refrigerator for 1 hour.
7. Serve chilled.

Looking for more recipes to add to you cookbook? Or just general guidance on how to incorporate the above foods into your daily menu? Get in touch with Rita, our Registered Dietitian at Elite Sports Clubs! Also, make sure you follow our other Nutrition blog posts for more great tips!

Berries, cruciferous veggies, nuts, and whole grains! Oh my! Do you eat foods from all of these categories on a regular basis? Tell us in the comments!