Oven Roasted Asparagus Recipe

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

Oven Roasted Asparagus Recipe-Elite Sports Clubs

Prepare at the last minute before serving your dinner! Dry heat in the oven or on the grill is a favorite way to cook many vegetables, including asparagus. If you remember the way that your mother probably used to cook on the stove until it was overcooked, this is an all new taste. Children will love it and can eat as a finger food. Continue reading Oven Roasted Asparagus Recipe

Honey Meyer Lemon Curd Recipe

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

Honey Meyer Lemon Curd Recipe-Elite Sports Clubs

Use as a dessert, on ice cream, or on pancakes or toast. Meyer Lemons are a specialty lemon available for a very short period during the year. The fruit is a thinner skin, full of aroma, and tangy delicious juice. This curd recipe is well worth making as a special sauce. Continue reading Honey Meyer Lemon Curd Recipe

Recipe: Avocado, Bean, and Corn Salsa

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

Avocado Bean Corn Salsa Recipe-Elite Sports Clubs

Now that Spring has finally sprung, I have been looking to liven up my weekly meals with fair that is a little more fresh and light than the usual hearty winter dish. I find myself drawn to raw fruits and vegetables, fresh herbs, and a little zest to wake up the taste buds. That’s why today I’d like to share with you a simple recipe for “Avocado, Bean, and Corn Salsa.” Continue reading Recipe: Avocado, Bean, and Corn Salsa

Eating Healthy at BBQ’s, Tailgate Parties, and All Your Outdoor Gatherings

Interview with Rita Larsen, Elite Sports Clubs Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Counselor

Summer and fall are great times to enjoy eating outdoors with friends and family. Who doesn’t love the smell at a barbecue, or the fun of a tailgate party or picnic? However there are definite ways to make these outdoor feasts healthier for everyone.

Rita Larsen, RD, CD, dietitian for Elite Sports Clubs, who has hosted many outdoor picnics and barbecues, has some tips for these outdoor festivities.

Grilling BBQ Tailgate

Since there have been some questions on how safe barbecuing actually is, Larsen suggested a safe way of barbecuing is to slow cook the meat until it is very well done. Larsen gives this great shortcut, “prepare what you are going to barbecue indoors in an oven, slow cooking it at 250 to 275 degrees and finish on the grill, then there is no burning fat on the meat. If you are going to serve it somewhere else then you can still cook it for several hours at home. In both instances you can then brown it with the sauce on the outdoor grill itself. Keep it cool on the way to the site of the outdoor feast. Always cover with aluminum foil.”

Larsen gave added tips for safety. “Keep meat about to be barbecued in a safe condition. Place it as high as possible on your racks. Use as little fat as possible to grill with and don’t char it, which could be carcinogenic. Research shows that with charring comes HCA, which are carcinogens. Charred meat is no longer chic.” She added, “Cook on grayer briquettes and hold a nice heat.”

For healthier grilling she suggested using fish, rather than beef and poultry. “Lightly oil grill with canola oil, as it lasts longer than olive oil, and keep temperatures low.” A clean grill is also paramount. “Scrape off black residue with a brush after each use.”

Larsen said that just about anything could be grilled. She suggested that vegetables should be moistened and soft. Marinade food just before you cook. However barbecue sauce can be put on afterwards. Put corn on the top shelves of the grill.”

Grilled Pineapple Peaches

A surprisingly wonderful treat, Larsen suggested, was grilling pineapple and peaches. “They taste sweet like candy. They are absolutely delicious.”

So many people today are vegetarians, so it’s a good idea to inquire ahead of time if any of your guests are in that category. If you’ll have vegetarian or vegan guests there are a number of such products you can buy or you can even make your own veggie patties.

Larsen added a couple more safety tips. “Try not to use gasoline as a fire starter, for health reasons. Also always try to keep any perishable food you are transporting cooler than forty degrees.”

Larsen strongly suggested discarding any perishables instead of bringing them home. “If they are out in the heat or in bright sunlight beyond a couple of hours, you’re taking a big chance bringing them home. It would be a heck of a risk, especially with all those spoons in and out. The food starts to break down.”

If you can keep it from melting, Larsen said that “the best desert is ice cream, for health and nutritional value as well as taste.”

Larsen also cautioned people about overeating at outdoor feasts. “Eat what you think your system can handle. A client of mine actually felt ill after overeating at a rich Texas barbecue.”

Serious Barbecue Book Adam Perry Lang

She also explained that though “tailgate food, picnic food, and certainly our favorite BBQ is the highlight of summer cuisine, it does not need to be high in calories, fats, sugars, or salts. Many families today want to cut the calories of outdoor foods, simply by searching cookbooks for the best taste with the least caloric output. In his book, “Serious Barbecue,” author Adam Perry Lang, encourages cooks to use, among other things, wine, seasonings, and herbs to enhance the taste of good pieces of meat. I recently tried a flatiron steak marinated in red wine. It had a wonderful flavor, it was lean but chewable, and the combination of flavors was memorable.”

Adding, “Too often, we resort to quick combinations of flavors, such as bottled BBQ sauces and prepared salads, or store-bought desserts, which really drive up those calories. However, if you are a seasoned cook, you can often taste the preservatives and extra fat that have been added to picnic deli foods that keep them on the grocer’s shelf for weeks. Consider making these substitutions for your next events. Switch to oven baked-off meats with basic seasonings, adding a little BBQ sauce of your own rather than to use a heavy, sweetened sauce bought off the shelf.”

“Make your own coleslaw with fresh lime juice,” Larsen suggested. She felt that it would be much healthier than deli coleslaw and potato salad, both which have added preservatives. “Making your own will have fewer calories, and be fresher in taste. You can even add the light mayo at the outdoor event. Make homemade potato or pasta salad, using light mayonnaise and fresh garden vegetables and herbs; rather than prepared salads from deli counter, which may contain a lot of preservatives. Oven-baked potatoes are also a good substitute; using just a little olive oil and fresh herbs to taste.”

“Also limit the number of chips, and salty snacks that you have available for guests. The best choices would be homemade Chex mix, baked chips, and bagel or tortilla chips that you have prepared yourself. Even make your own salsa. Plan a good time, and a healthy one that is conscious of the overall experience for your guests!”


“Best Ever Tomato-Based BBQ Sauce”

Rita's Best Ever Tomato Based BBQ Sauce 1 large sweet white onion; diced
3 large cloves of garlic
1 green pepper; sliced or diced into small pieces
2 Tbsp. canola oil

Cut up ingredients into 2-3 inch-sided sauce pan. Cook briefly to a softened state; and then add 1 cup tomato sauce and 1 cup water to mixture. Let the mixture blend; then add ¼ cup of white wine vinegar to taste. Add ¼ cup of fresh herbs, perhaps from your garden, such as sage, Italian parsley, fresh parsley, and tarragon.

Next, add the final touches to your self-styled sauce, to your taste:
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Keep in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to two weeks.


What are your favorite (healthy) BBQ & tailgate foods? TRUTH: Would you rather attend an outdoor party empty handed, than with a store-bought side dish? Tell us in the comments!

If you have more questions about healthy outdoor eating you can contact dietitian Rita Larsen at
Elite Sports Club-Brookfield at 262-786-0880. You can also contact us online for more health & fitness advice.

 

9 Everyday Tips for Healthy Bag Lunches & Snacks

By Rita Larsen, Elite Sports Clubs Registered Dietitian & Nutrition Counselor

Guidelines for Healthy Eating and Snacking on a Daily Basis

Whether the kids are headed off to school or you are brown bagging it to work, many of us prepare and pack our own snacks and lunches every day. Use the tips below to help you be mindful of your food choices not just during lunch, but all day long!

  1. Not all foods are created equal! Pick out foods that are best for your normal day, every day.
  2. Plan to emphasize what is most important in your diet. For example, high quality protein, fiber, and fulfilling daily fruit/vegetable requirements.
  3. Make a schedule for yourself and include times, places, and content of what you will be eating for the day to hold yourself accountable.
    • 10:00am Snack: Fruit
    • Noon Lunch: Entree, salad, milk (school lunch)
    • 3:00pm Snack: Popcorn
    • Also have an idea of what your night time dinner will be like and what time you plan to eat (so the whole family can attend & you can give yourself enough time to prepare)
  4. Drink plenty of fluids, including water throughout the day.
  5. Be aware of the salt content of most snack foods.
  6. Make comparisons of packaged food items–making sure you have selected the best in terms of calories, salt, and fats.
  7. Remember, too many calories and fats can lead to feeling sluggish and tired in the afternoon.
  8. Keep your eye on the caffeine in beverages–too much soda or caffeinated beverages cause you to feel jittery later in the day and actually take away from your energy base.
  9. Choose foods that provide the most energy throughout the day.
    • Whole Wheat Toast vs. Sweet Roll
    • Baked Potato vs. French Fries
    • Fruited Yogurt vs. Chocolate Cake

Try including the following recipe in your next bag lunch as a snack with tortilla chips or compliment to your entree (such as a chicken breast or fish).

Quick Easy Black Bean Salsa

Quick & Easy Black Bean Salsa

1-15oz. can Black Beans
1-11oz. can Shoepeg Corn
1-16oz. jar Salsa with Cilantro
1 medium Red Pepper, chopped
1 bunch Green Scallions, chopped
Lemon juice, cumin, and minced garlic to taste.

Mix all ingredients. Best if prepared the day before.

1/3 cup = 75 calories

Looking for more nutrition advice or other snack and lunch recipe ideas? We offer plenty of ongoing group & private programs with Elite’s own Registered Dietitian. Just let us know a little about yourself and your goals to get started!