Healthy Horse Show Living: Dinner Is Served
The bright lights of the concession stand may beckon but there’s a healthier choice for dinner at the horse show.
By: Megan Arszman
You’ve made it through the day, starting strong with a protein-packed breakfast and avoiding the bag of greasy chips at the stalls, so you don’t want to blow it with dinner. In our final nutrition-based article on staying healthy while at the horse show, we’re going to share with you ways to end the day on a high note with a nutritious meal to better prepare for the next show day.
Health and wellness experts recommend eating earlier in the evening, rather than later. Unfortunately, exhibitors are at the mercy of the show schedule, so we all know that’s easier said than done. That makes it even more important to eat smart at night. Think about portion sizes and what you’re really eating. Using visual cues can help with portion control; your serving of meat, fish, or chicken should be the size of a deck of cards; a slice of bread should be the size of a CD case; and half a cup of mashed potatoes, rice, or pasta is about the size of a light bulb.
It’s more common for exhibitors to go out to dinner after a long day at the fairgrounds, maybe to celebrate qualifying for the World Show or just to be able to kick back and relax. You can still eat healthy and be considerate of your caloric intake while enjoying someone else’s cooking. Lindsay Livingston, a Registered Dietitian from Columbus, Ohio, and blogger at The Lean Green Bean shares her tips for how to do dinner smart:
- Take half home (or to the hotel). Restaurant portions are often two to four times what an actual serving should be. Ask your server to box up half before bringing it to the table so you won’t be tempted, or just remember that you don’t need to clean your plate. Splitting an entree with a friend is also a great and cost-effective option!
- Order high-calorie toppings on the sides so you can control the amount. Things like dressings, cheese, croutons, sauces, etc. are often loaded with calories. When you add your own, you’ll probably find you only need a little bit to enjoy the flavor!
- Choose healthier cooking methods like grilled, baked, and steamed over breaded and fried.
- Ask for substitutions. Instead of two starchy sides, skip at least one of them and get a salad, grilled veggies, side of fruit, cottage cheese, etc.
- Look at the menu ahead of time and order first so you aren’t influenced by what other people order.
- Don’t be afraid to speak up. You’re the paying customer and restaurants should want to make you happy.
If the show’s running late or you plan to stay on the fairgrounds, you can let your slow cooker do the cooking for you. When you’re ready to enjoy dinner, you just have to sit back and enjoy.
Here are some meals that might do well in a slow cooker:
- Cheap cuts of meat- they’re often tougher and benefit from long, slow cooking times. You can easily make a big batch of pulled pork, chicken, or beef and use it for tacos, sandwiches etc.
- Soups- A great way to sneak in your veggies. Throw all your favorites in the slow cooker with some chopped meat (or a vegetarian source of protein like lentils, chickpeas, etc.).
- Casseroles- You can even use your slow cooker to make things like lasagna, enchiladas, and mac and cheese.
Livingston shares some of her favorite go-to healthy slow cooker meals that are easy to prepare at home and even easier to plug in while at the show:
- Cilantro Lime Chicken– Cook brown rice at home ahead of time and reheat when ready.
- Slow Cooker Enchilada Casserole– Use what veggies you have and enjoy!
- Pot Roast – Sunday supper without slaving over the stove!
- Easy ideas from Cooking Light– How about slow simmered meat sauce for pasta, hearty chili (Congress, anyone?), curried beef short ribs? Some of the recipes are four-star quality, served in the comfort of your horse trailer!
- 24 Ideas from BuzzFeed– Loaded potato soup, honey sesame chicken, and vegetable frittatas (a great idea for breakfast).
- Pinterest is always a great place to find slow cooker recipes.
A couple more reminders to help you on the journey to healthier eating:
- Eat slowly. Take time to chew your food and enjoy your meals. Studies show that slower eaters who don’t rush through meals enjoy their meals more and are able to eat less.
- Listen to your body. During a meal, stop eating before you feel stuffed; it takes a few minutes for your brain to tell your body you’re full.
- Eat the rainbow. Healthy eating is colorful eating. Fill up your coolers with colorful fruit and veggies to snack on through the day and have on hand for meals.
- Vegetarian or maybe you want to cut back on eating a lot of meat? Use alternate proteins: beans (black beans, navy beans, and lentils), nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and pecans), and soy products (tofu, soy milk, tempeh, veggie burgers). Just remember to avoid salted or sugary nuts and refried beans.
In case you’ve missed the previous articles in the Healthy Horse Show Living series, check them out at the links below.
If you have any questions for our Registered Dietician, be sure to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next up: We’ll show you some exercise workouts you can do at the barn and in the trailer while on the road!