A Canton restaurant and Avon gym owner have partnered to offer a menu that health-conscious patrons can enjoy while staying true to their fitness goals.
Canton resident Michele Welcome-Pellegatto is a loyal customer to La Trattoria in Canton who often requests healthy substitutes for items on the menu. So, when she bought the Avon Snap Fitness franchise and became owner at the start of 2013, it wasn't long before she approached restaurant co-owner Mark Bettera with an idea of giving restaurant-goers healthy dine-out options too.
Last weekend, La Trattoria kicked off its "Michele-approved" menu insert and many people were already biting. Her stamp of approval, an idea she plans to trademark, and the Snap Fitness logo are on the special menu. Welcome-Pellegatto has gone through every ingredient on it with Bettera and the restaurant chefs to craft healthy meals, appetizers, sides and desserts. By pure coincidence, they are all gluten-free.
The menu is a collaboration between her, Bettera and head La Trattoria chef Colin Giles.
“What I’m looking to do in this area is revolutize how they eat," said Welcome-Pellegatto. “I sat down with them (La Trattoria staff) and showed them all my ideas.”
Currently, Michele-approved menu items include beet salad, jumbo shrimp cocktail and blackened chicken skewers for appetizers; herb-infused grilled chicken, grilled Norwegian salmon, turkey meatballs and petit filet for main dishes; sides of sauteed spinach, broccoli rabe, mashed cauliflower and green beans; and three dark chocolate truffles for dessert.
The new menu will keep changing to keep it exciting and "seasonal," according to Welcome-Pellegatto.
“How we’re meant to eat is supposed to be seasonal," she said.
La Trattoria makes its food from scratch and is fresh, as opposed to using pre-packaged ingredients, Welcome-Pellegatto said. Whole, natural foods are important to her and she also values homemade meals.
“That’s something I’m very firmly an advocate of," Welcome-Pellegatto said. “When you’re making things from scratch, you know what you’re putting into your food.”
Welcome-Pellegatto plans to design Michele-approved menus for Village Cafe and Bistro in Canton, as well as The Meat House and Deepwater Seafood in Avon.
As a professional figure competitor — a type of bodybuilder — nutrition is very important to her whether training or in the off-season. Welcome-Pellegatto, who is in her early 30s, competes nationally under the name Michele Welcome. In June, she's traveling to Miami for a Pro Figure Universe competition on the professional stage. She has switched from the WBFF organization to Fitness America Federation.
Whenever she comes home from a competition, Bettera tells her "welcome home."
Welcome-Pellegatto lives by the motto "Eat lean, train clean."
“Healing to me starts from the inside out," Welcome-Pellegatto said. "You can train, but you need to nourish your body."
But she doesn't believe in fad diets. Knowing how your body responds to food and having a balanced diet are crucial, she said.
“If you don’t have to cut all the carbohydrates out of your diet, why would I make you?” Welcome-Pellegatto said.
For more information on the Michele-approved menu, read the Avon Snap Fitness blog. La Trattoria is located at 21 Old Albany Turnpike in Canton and the phone number is 860-673-5000. Snap Fitness is at 260 West Main St. in Avon and can be reached by phone at 860-581-4014.