Any season, brunch, lunch or dinner, salad can be a soccer and sports-worthy meal-IF you make the right choices. Below is a "complete program" for building the best salad for your sport from Food Guide for Soccer: Tips and Recipes from the Pros.
Salad for Lunch
Salads, whether served as a main dish or an accompaniment, are a simple way to boost your intake of fresh vegetables-that's good! But as a soccer athlete, you need a substantial, carbohydrate-based lunch. Most salads get the bulk of their calories from salad oil-not good. You'll be better able to fuel your muscles if you choose a sandwich with a side salad for lunch, rather than eat just a big salad for the entire meal. However, if a salad is your choice, to make it a meal, make sure to add from the substantial choices below.
Three tricks to making a healthy sports salad are:
1. Choose a variety of colorful vegetables-dark green lettuces, red tomatoes, yellow peppers, orange carrots-for a variety of vitamins and minerals. If the vegetables you buy for salads tend to wilt in your refrigerator, consider frequent trips to the salad bar at the grocery store and deli as an alternative to tossing veggies that spoil before you find the chance to eat them. And here's a tip: dig from the bottom, to make sure to get the coldest (and therefore best preserved) part of the salad bar.
2. Add extra carbohydrates, or protein:
• dense vegetables, such as corn, peas, beets, carrots
• beans and legumes, such as chickpeas, kidney beans, and three-bean salad
• cooked rice or pasta
• oranges, apples, raisins, grapes, craisins
• toasted croutons
• whole-grain bread or roll on the side
• hardboiled eggs, cheese (moderate amounts), chicken, flaked tuna or imitation seafood, preferably without mayonnaise. (If it comes with mayo, hold off adding any extra dressing to the salad or add lemon or vinegar.)
3. Monitor the dressing. Some soccer players drown 50 calories of healthful salad ingredients with 400 calories of blue cheese dressing! At a restaurant, always request the dressing be served on the side. Otherwise, you may get 400 calories of unhealthy oil, or mayonnaise-fatty foods that fill your stomach but leave your muscles unfueled.
If you choose to use regular dressings, try to select ones made with olive oil for both a nice flavor and health-protective monounsaturated fats. If you want to reduce your fat intake, simply dilute regular dressings with water, more vinegar, lemon, or even milk (in ranch and other mayonnaise-based dressings). Or, choose from the plethora of low- or non-fat salad dressings. These dressings are good not only for salads, but also sandwiches, baked potatoes and dip.
Excerpted from Food Guide for Soccer-Tips & Recipes From the Pros, with Women's Professional Soccer, by Gloria Averbuch and Nancy Clark, RD. Available on www.amazon.com or www.nancyclarkrd.com
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