The Gymnastics Kitchen With Betsy: Healthy Alternatives To Party Food Favs

Fruit pizza

It's a party! Summer is coming, which means lots of pool parties, summertime get-togethers, and gymnastics slumber parties. Oh, yeah! I remember those days... and we ALL KNOW that when gymnasts get together they love to create in the kitchen.

So, what are some healthy alternatives to our traditional party favorites of pizza, chips and dip, buttered popcorn, and other sugar-filled snacks? As I have stated many times before in my previous articles, gymnasts' bodies need special fueling for their sport! Why not eat heathy snack food if at all possible to avoid sore, inflamed muscles? Sugar overload and unhealthy saturated fat consummation can really hurt a gymnast's performance. Is it possible to create and eat party food that actually makes us feel GOOD? YES!

Here are some of my own personal favorite recipes for summertime parties for gymnasts! Do these together with your friends to make your get-togethers even more special:

Alternative To Popcorn: Roasted Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)

Want a powerful crunch that also is loaded with healthy protein and essential fat? Try these tasty roasted chickpeas! Get creative with your favorite spices. My favorites are turmeric and garlic because of their anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties!

  • ​2, 15 ounce cans of garbanzo beans (Fresh beans are recommended, however if cleaned well these are fine)
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Pick your spice: paprika, garlic, cayenne, rosemary, curry, turmeric... your choice and options are limitless!
After cleaning the beans well, dry them thoroughly with paper towels and allow to air dry. Then toss with the olive oil and a dash of sea salt. Pre-heat oven to 400 and lay chickpeas on baking sheet in a single layer for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Some of the chick peas will pop so you need to keep an eye on them and stir them about every 10 minutes. When finished baking, sprinkle with those powerful spices! Yum!

Alternative To Pizza: Cauliflower-Crusted Fruit Pizza

Traditionally, fruit pizzas contain a lot of sugar because most recipes call for a cookie crust. Not this one! The crust will be a little more savory so be sure to decorate your pizza with lots of tasty, sweet fruits! Remember, berries are loaded with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that gymnasts NEED. Make several pizzas with your favorite fruits for your party!

  • ​1 medium head of cauliflower
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup mozzarella  and 1/4 cup fresh shredded parmesan 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Package of Light Cream Cheese
  • FRUITS: Your choice: strawberries, kiwi, blueberries, raspberries, pineapple, etc.
In a food processor add the cauliflower until finely chopped. Steam the cauliflower pieces with a pan and insert steamer for 15 minutes. Then allow to cool for another 15 minutes. Stir in the egg, two cheeses well. Mix well into a dough. Press dough into a baking sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Let dough to cool thoroughly. After crust has cooled, spread on the cream cheese, then add your powerful berries and other fruits of choice! Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. Delicious!

Alternative To Chips: Baked Cinnamon Apple Chips

Gymnasts love baking cookies when they get together. Why not try a crunchy and fun alternative to cookies and potato chips with this very simple baked apple recipe! Apples really are one of the most powerful and healthy fruits on the planet!

  • ​6-8 Granny Smith apples cored and slices VERY thin (leave skins on)
  • Cinnamon
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Slice your apples very thin and place on baking sheets on wax paper. Flip them over after one hour then bake another 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the oven and let them sit after that for another 30 minutes. Sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy!

If you don't have a mandoline slicer for apples, make sure you have a very sharp knife. Core your apple and slice your apple sideways very, very, very thin! The thinner you slice them the crunchier your chips will be! Also be patient with this recipe, it takes a few hours to make the perfect crunchy chips.

Alternative To Chip Dip: Healthy Ranch Dip

Did you know you can actually MAKE your own ranch dip? Skip the processed powders and make your own!  Have fun with your friends chopping up  antioxidant-rich spices to add to this very healthy protein-packed Greek yogurt-based dip. Pair this creamy dip with vitamin-rich veggies such as chopped celery; cauliflower;  broccoli; red, yellow, and green peppers; and carrot sticks.

  • ​2 tablespoons fresh or dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dill
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh chives
Place all of these spices in a food processor and pulse! Add to one cup of plain Greek yogurt (Fage is my favorite) and mix well. Enjoy with your favorite veggies!

If you would like an individualized meal plan for yourself, your athletes or a training program for your team, contact Betsy at Check out her training video ( or her gymnastics Facebook page Betsy McNally Laouar Gymnastics Nutrition and Fitness Specialist.

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