Healthy Meets Happy at Canoe

Healthy Meets Happy at Canoe

Chef Matthew Basford, of Canoe in Atlanta, Georgia, shares with us one of his favorite healthy dishes!

QPlease tell us what inspired the creation of our featured dish. 

Chef Matthew Basford: Being Australian I thought it was my duty to expose people the great protein that is kangaroo. The flavor of kangaroo is very similar to venison with the texture of a lamb loin. I like to combine the slight gaminess of kangaroo with a beet labneh. The labneh combines a slightly acidic flavor with the sweetness of beets. The kangaroo is then complimented with a saute of roasted parsnips, Brussels and north Georgia apples. It is the dish that combines my past and my present.


QFor our vegetarian readers, which dish do you recommend as a must try? And what about for the meat-eaters?

MB: For vegetarians, I would recommend our autumnal style salad. It consists of apples, brussels, squash with kale, and a vanilla – bourbon vinaigrette. For meat eaters, I would also recommend people try our kangaroo dish. Kangaroo is an extremely healthy protein and also has a taste great. If you eat venison you would defiantly enjoy kangaroo. At the moment, I sell it with a beet labneh, parsnip and brussels.

Q: Besides the beautiful views offered at Canoe, the dish presentations are just as stunning. What does food presentation mean to you?

MB: Presentation is definitely important but it means less if you do not have great flavor and sourcing great ingredients. At Canoe, we always strive to sell the highest quality of ingredients and in the height of their season.

Q: How does Canoe offer a dining experience for its guests unlike other restaurant establishments?

MB: At Canoe, we always strive to give the guest the best possible dining experience. That comes in three factors, service definitely being of great importance. Our service staff is one of the best in the city, with their level of knowledge, dedication and pursuit of excellence. Then comes the food, I look at it as approachable cuisine. We are not looking to make people feel intimidated with what they are about to eat. If people are comfortable then they can enjoy their experience more. Lastly is the view, and that is not repeatable in the city. There are few places in Atlanta that you can drive 10 minutes from the city and be in a very tranquil location with just the flowing river and crickets to serenade you.

Q: For our readers who may be new to healthy cooking, where do you suggest they start as far as ingredients to always keep stocked at home?

MB: I would recommend that people explore farmers markets and get to know the people that sell at them. If you can make contacts there you will know what fruits and vegetables are in season. The ingredients bought there will also generally last a little longer as it was picked only a few days before. Always look to have fresh and unprocessed food, it may be a little more time spent in the kitchen but the flavor of the food will be far superior and better for your health.





Canoe is located at: 4199 Paces Ferry Rd SE, Atlanta, GA 30339


Distance to closest LA Fitness: 2.9 mi. (Akers Mill Square – 2995 Cobb Parkway)



w/ Crisped Brussels, Apple, and Beet Labneh


  • 2 Kangaroo Loins (cleaned) *Substitute: If cannot find, venison loin will also work)
  • 2 oz. Coarse Grind Black Pepper
  • 8 tbsp. Canola Oil

For the Roasted Vegetables

  • 8 ea Brussel Sprouts cut in 1/2
  • 2 ea Granny Smith Apples peeled and cut into wedges
  • 4 oz. Dried Cranberry roughly chopped
  • 2 ea Parsnip peeled and cut into batons

For the Labneh

  • 16 oz. Greek Style yogurt
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 2 ea. Red Beet Root peeled
  • 2 c Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 c Water
  • 1 c Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Salt

Serves 4.





For the Labneh (Prep Time: 2 days)

  1. Combine the yogurt and salt.
  2. Using a colander, place a cheese cloth (double-lined) with enough cloth to hang over the edge. Gently spoon the yogurt mixture into the center of the colander.
  3. Pull the excess cloth towards the center and tie off with butchers twine.
  4. Hang the mixture with a bowl underneath to catch the liquid that expels.
  5. Leave to hang in refrigerator from 24-48 hours.

For the Beet Puree

  1. In a sauce pan, combine beets, vinegar, sugar, water and salt.
  2. Cook gently until beets can be skewered with no resistance.
  3. Let cool.
  4. Puree the beets with just enough of the liquid to make a puree.
  5. Combine beet puree with labneh base. Season with salt and pepper. Consistency should be smooth.

For the Roasted Vegetables

  1. Toss half the brussels with enough canola oil and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Repeat same step with apples and parsnips. Be sure to separate the two, as cooking times will vary.
  3. Roast in a 400 degree oven until golden brown. Chef Tip: Apples will take approximately 6-10 minutes, brussels 15-20 minutes, and parsnip 15 minutes. Rotate for an even color.

For the Kangaroo

  1. Season the kangaroo with cracked black pepper, salt, and canola oil.
  2. Sear the meat on high heat, using either a cast iron pan or outdoor BBQ grill. Chef Tip: Recommended to cook to a rare temperature.

To Assemble

  1. Place some labneh on base of the plate.
  2. While hot, mix the roasted vegetable with the dried cranberry and place atop the labneh.
  3. Once the kangaroo has rested slightly, slice thinly and lay atop the vegetables.


Featured Recipes

Treat Your Taste Buds to Something Unique at Beatnik

Treat Your Taste Buds to Something Unique at Beatnik

Chef Marcos Campos, of Beatnik in Chicago, IL, has crafted a menu bursting with a flavor and variety, just as unique as the decor that makes up this eccentric restaurant. Chef Marcos shares some of his favorite dishes with us and what visitor’s can expect to find when dining at Beatnik.

Q: With a menu that offers such artfully crafted options, which dish do you recommend as a must-try for diners visiting Beatnik? 

A: The Beet Hummus, the Butternut Squash, the Whole Fish and the Lamb really harness our vision of cuisine at Beatnik. The overall balance of the dishes, as well as the contrast in global influence can be seen in these dishes.

Q: For the longest time, healthy eating was thought of as boring and bland, with having no real taste or substance. At Beatnik, I notice your dishes use a lot of unique ingredients. Is there a favorite you enjoy working with? 

Chef Marcos: We feel that the access to local farms has really helped us shape our menu. Being able to utilize the freshest, farm grown vegetables and meats really allow the products and flavors to speak for themselves.

Q: What inspired you to pursue a career as a chef? 

Chef Marcos: The way food and cooking brought my family together really helped me see my vision in food, starting with working with my father in the town butcher shop, in Valencia, Spain, to spending time with my mother and grandmother in the kitchen, over the stove. Ultimately food was what brought us all together.

Q: How does Beatnik offer a dining experience for its guests unlike other restaurant establishments? 

Chef Marcos: We really look to bringing an International Dinner Party to you. The atmosphere is unlike any other seen in Chicago. From the ambiance, to the cocktails, to the food… they all come together to give you an overall global adventure of the senses.

Q: For our readers who may be new to healthy cooking, where do you suggest they start as far as ingredients to always keep stocked at home? 

Chef Marcos: As far as healthy options, it really depends on how adventurous the consumer is. Substituting a touch of Fish Sauce or Tamari (gluten free soy sauce) can be an alternative for salt, while adding essential vitamins to your diet. Utilizing Labneh Cheese (cheese made from straining yogurt) in place of Cream Cheese can help jump start the stomach enzymes, aiding in better digestion. As far as spices, venturing through those commonly used in Mediterranean kitchens such as; Cumin, Za’tar, Sumac, Baharat and Cardamom, not only add delicious flavors to food, but also offer a variety of health benefits.

Beatnik (IL) is located at:


Distance to closest LA Fitness: 3.5 mi. (Chicago, IL)

Beet Hummus

Photo by Allison Wessel



  • 1 quart beets
  • 1 quart garbanzo beans
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cups of blended oil
  • 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • zest of 3 oranges
  • juice of 1/2 orange
  • sprinkle of blue cheese



  1. Fry garbanzo beans in a pan with olive oil for 3 minutes at 350 degrees.

Recipe for Hummus:

  1. Combine all ingredients into robot coupe, except oils.
  2. Allow ingredients to incorporate and emulsify with oils and season with oranges to taste.
  3. Serve as large format Hummus dish or to separate into each small dish, use 4 tablespoons of Hummus for each.
  4. Add the ring of Hummus around the bowl with space left in the middle.
  5. Add fried garbanzo beans in enter of bowl with blue cheese (can substitute for any kind of cheese), and roasted pepitas/pumpkin seeds (can substitute for sunflower seeds).
  6. Finish with adding basil oil on top.
  7. Serve with Pita Bread on the side.


This recipe is perfect for a group dinner or party since it is based on the larger quantity. Or it can easily be saved and as a whole and served multiple times with the one batch.


This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor. Beatnik is not an affiliate of LA Fitness.

Featured Recipes

Simplicity at Its Finest at Avant Garden

Simplicity at Its Finest at Avant Garden

Avant Garden in New York City, owned by restaurateur, Ravi DeRossi, is an all-vegan based hot-spot full of tasty dishes that attract vegans, vegetarians, and meat-eaters alike!  We had an opportunity to speak with Avant Garden’s head chef who shared some insights on what makes Avant Garden such a huge success.


Q: What would you like non-vegans to know about the menu items offered at Avant Garden?

A: Avant Garden is a small restaurant in the East Village that serves vegetables. Our focus is to offer delicious food that just happens to be vegan. Many of our kitchen staff have experience in both vegan and non-vegan kitchens so the menu and style of cooking appeals to everyone. I’d say the majority of our returning guests are non-vegan.

Q: I notice your dishes are crafted from a variety of healthy ingredients. Is there a favorite you enjoy working with?

A: Garlic.

Q: What inspired you to pursue a career as a chef?

A: Cooking is such a big part of my life ever since I was a kid. I have been cooking my whole life and I know it’s what I am meant to do.

Q: How does Avant Garden offer a dining experience for its guests unlike other restaurant establishments?

A: Avant Garden is a small restaurant in the East Village that serves vegetables. Our focus is offer delicious food that just happens to be vegan. The Chef’s prepare all the food at a long counter in the dining room so no matter where guests are seated, they are in the kitchen. This makes for an intimate experience. It feels like home!  I think being such a small staff and facility forces us to maximize within our margins. We have to be hyper aware of the quantities of produce we order due our limited storage space. Working together in such close quarters makes for a tight-knit team. Those good vibes can only heighten our program. We also don’t use any wheat gluten or “meat” substitutes which may set us apart as well.


Avant Garden is located at: 130 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

Avant Garden

Distance to closest LA Fitness: 8.1 mi. (485 Harmon Meadow, Secaucus, NJ 07094)




Tsuyu Recipe

  • 60 pieces of dried Shiitake
  • 10 pieces of Kombu
  • 3 liters of Water
  • 6 cups Sake
  • 9 cups of White Soy Sauce
  • 9 cups of Mirin
  • 1 medium Onion
  • 15 Garlic Cloves
  • Olive Oil
  • Celery Root



  1. In a large pot combine the dried shiitake mushrooms, kombu, water, sake, white soy sauce, and mirin.
  2. Bring to a boil, then remove from flame. Let the liquid mixture sit overnight.
  3. Strain the following day and keep just the liquid.
  4. Rough chop 3 pounds of shiitake mushrooms, medium chop 1 onion and slice 15 garlic cloves.
  5. Sweat the onions in olive oil with garlic until tender.
  6. Add the shiitake mushrooms. Cook for 10 minutes.
  7. Add 2 quarts of mushroom stock. Reduce liquid.
  8. Once reduced, blend mixture in blender until smooth.
  9. In the meantime, peel and spiralize celery root. Keep in cold water.
  10. In a sauté pan, sauté 4 ounces of oyster mushroom and 3.5 ounces of shimeji mushroom until golden brown.
  11. Add two cups of mushroom purée and 4 ounces of the tsuyu. Mix together.
  12. Dry off celery root (pat dry) and add to the pan. Cook two minutes, occasionally until wilted and sauce reduces. Add one table spoon chopped parsley.
  13. Place in bowl, and garnish with sliced fried and dehydrated shiitake, toasted garlic, chives and a squeeze of lemon (optional.)
  14. Enjoy!!


Featured Recipes

Help! I’ve Hit A Weight Loss Plateau | Q+A

Help! I’ve Hit A Weight Loss Plateau | Q+A


I’m trying to lose weight. I have been going to the gym about 5 times a week for about 4 months. I feel like I’m getting stronger, I have more energy and generally feel better. I noticed that I haven’t lost any weight and figured I should check my diet. Can you point me in the right direction?

– Jesse


Please see our recent answer regarding testosterone and diet by clicking here.

Besides sleep and hormones, energy levels may also be affected by stress, physical activity, and nutrition. Since you are regularly physically active let’s focus on stress and nutrition. Your surgeries may have significantly impacted your liveliness and stamina. Although you may have regained functional ability after each bout, the body’s recovery may be longer lasting.

Proper nutrition is a good defense against fatigue. Hydration is a key factor in feeling peppy as every cell in your body needs water! Adequate body fluids also ensure transport of nutrients and elimination of wastes/toxins. You burn calories constantly, not all at once so feed yourself the same way. To fuel body systems continuously you need balanced, spaced meals with fiber-rich complex carbohydrates, lean protein and healthy fats. A wimpy green salad may leave you flat while an overloaded lunch plate can set on an afternoon slump.

Particularly high-energy foods include oats & quinoa (fiber + unsaturated fat), chocolate & tea (caffeine), citrus (flavonoids), banana & barley (fructo-oligosaccharides), asparagus & wheat (inulin), and spinach (B-vitamins).

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

Ask our Dietitian

Have a nutrition question? Our registered dietitian is ready to help!

Email or submit your question below and it may be featured in an upcoming article!

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Recommended Reading - Q+A

Warm Ups For Cold Weather Workouts

Warm Ups For Cold Weather Workouts

Well the weather outside is frightful… but don’t let that deter you from your winter workout routine! It’s important that when the weather gets cold and frosty you take the time to properly warm up your body before jumping into your training. Warm-ups can help improve performance and reduce risk of injury1, especially when the weather is cold and your muscles feel tighter than normal.


Some helpful tips for warming yourself up before starting your workout include:

  1. Bring your warmup and workout routine into the gym! Staying indoors will help keep your core body temperature at a higher level than if you were to go on an outdoor run. (Find an LA Fitness near you, here!)
  2. A quick 15-minute run on the treadmill or warmup on the bike.
  3. Jumping jacks.
  4. Dynamic stretches such as walking lunges, leg swings and arm circles (read more about the benefits of stretching here).
  5. Take a dip in our 25-meter heated lap pools, or get your body feeling nice and relaxed in one of our relaxing saunas.*
  6. Squats, squats and more squats. The burn of that exercise sticks around all year.
  7. Walking. Simply taking a walk around the gym, your home, or a track can help warm up your muscles by getting them moving. Add in upper body stretches while you’re walking


Andrea Fradkin, an associate professor of exercise science at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania, suggests that for every 10°F drop below 30°F you extend your pre-workout warmup by five minutes.2  While not all regions experience extreme drops in temperatures, it’s important to keep in mind that even a slight drop in temperature can still be a shock when your body isn’t used to it.

Did You Know?

According to Gerald Endress, an exercise physiologist and fitness director at the Duke University Diet and Fitness Center, the ideal temperature for working out is between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit.3 However, personal preferences may impact this.


How to Dress

It may go without being said that cold weather calls for warmer clothes. Even though you may be gearing up for a sweaty workout, be sure to dress in layers so you can remove the extra clothing when your temperature rises, and then add it back on when your core body temperature cools. If you’re opting for an outdoor workout, consider wearing protective gear for your face, ears, hands and feet. When dressing in layers, try wearing a synthetic material, something that will wick away moisture from your skin.4 The second layer should help insulate, think a fleece or wool layer, and the third layer should be a breathable/waterproof material (depending on outdoor conditions). Use your best judgment contingent on the weather, and take into account whether you are working out indoors or outdoors.

To find an LA Fitness near you, click here, and avoid the outdoor chill.

*Amenities vary by location.


  1. O’Mara, Kelly. “The Art of Warming Up in Cold Weather | MapMyRun.” Under Armour, 8 Aug. 2017,
  2. Ibid
  3. George, Shannon. “Is It Better to Workout in the Cold or Hot?” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, 11 Sept. 2017,
  4. Schwecherl, Laura. “When Is It Too Cold to Exercise Outside?” Greatist, Greatist, 6 June 2016,

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