Cooking for Teen Athletes

I shop for food like other women shop for shoes.  It is my passion and the highlight of my day.  I have always been like this.  Even when I was in high school and my mom would send me to the grocery store.  I love food.  And I especially love going to Whole Foods.  I love everything about this place.  It is  my very favorite store in the world and on this occasion I was talking with the sales person that stands in the area where they sell all of the supplements.  I love that there is always someone there to help you with whatever problem you might have.  I was looking for a protein drink for my younger daughter who is mostly a vegetarian.  I was worried about her because she had been doing double soccer work outs.  I always think she looks really thin, but in reality she is a perfect weight for her height and is amazingly strong.  I am her mother and if I want to worry I can.

The sales person said, “It’s different cooking for athletes isn’t it?”  She had noticed that I was also buying a ton of veggies, chicken and yogurt. And yes it is different, but still I think every child should eat really healthy food, but families with athletic kids have the challenge of not always being able to sit down to a normal meal due to varied  practice times.  One child has practice from 5-7 and the other from 7-9.   I also have this sense, as a mother, that kids who practice at a high level for two hours should have a really good meal before and after.

For a while I made a lot of hot sandwiches (think chicken, cheddar cheese and BBQ sauce),  which the girls loved until they didn’t anymore, and then I switched to cold wraps (chicken caesar was popular for a long time).  Before that I frequently made soup and the White Bean soup in my cookbook (Real Food for Real People – Amazon) was a giant hit.  In the summer I make salads and stash them in the fridge and then broil some fish when I get a chance or I make a few pounds of chicken and serve it with salad or with this delicious sauce that is packed with fresh herbs.  It is great on anything (chicken, fish, steak or brown rice).


Chicken with Argentinian Chimichurri Sauce (click for recipe).

As the girls get more and more competitive athletically I have to work harder to make sure they are getting the proper fuel to help them do their best.  Last summer I asked my younger daughter what she wanted for lunch and she surprisingly said, “I want whatever will make me run faster.”

Nike Cup

Siena Soccer

I love soups for athletes, but they can be tricky.  Kids are not always excited for a bowl of soup.  But some soups are more popular with kids than others and this one is always a winner.  I make it all the time.  The ginger in the soup is a natural anti-inflamitory, so it is good for kids that have injuries or knee problems like my daughter.  This is an update on my classic Italian White Bean soup, but any soup with beans will provide long lasting lean protein for your child.   These soups also freeze amazingly well.  I store them in small containers, so I can defrost a single portion for them to (sadly) take in the car.


Vegi, Ginger and Sausage Soup (click here for recipe)

I have been experimenting with juicing and it’s an easy way to load the kids (and myself) up with the nutrients found in leafy greens.  Especially, the very iron dense, but kid dreaded, spinach and kale.  The girls really like the sweeter green juices, so I add pear and tangerine.  Apples and carrots are good, but the pear and tangerine are especially delicious.


By the way, I ended up not buying her a powdered protein drink and went back to food as the proper fuel for a growing athlete.   It takes planning to keep our kids healthy and well fed, but it is so worth it.

Mother’s Little Helper & Other Wisdom

My Littles

It felt like, one day I was eating caviar toasts and baby lamb chops washed down with a few glasses of Veuve Clicquot Champagne with my P.R. agency, and the next I was a stay at home mom with a 22 month old and a new baby. I sat terrified most days waiting for my husband to come home from work. I’m ashamed to admit this, but I remember envying my husband’s commute to work. I would have done anything to be alone for 35 minutes listening to music and drinking my French Roast winding through the Berkeley hills.

I have moments of nostalgia when I dream of holding one of my babies in my arms again,  but mostly I am just happy to have survived those early years. My mother died when I was young and my dear mother-in-law didn’t sugar coat it when she told me, “I’ve already raised my kids.”  I had a magical nanny when I worked South of Market in San Francisco and I was able to retain her a few hours a week when the girls were very small, but mostly I was very much on my own. One of the more hilarious activities was taking the baby and two year old grocery shopping. The small town where I live has a good number of retirees, so I was constantly approached by these lovely women and told to cherish every moment. I would be so exhausted and both kids would be screaming and all I could think was they must have amnesia!  They were also the generation of Mother’s Little Helper (click for the Rolling Stone’s famous song). The rest of us had to white knuckle our way through it.

I discovered that taking the kids to dinner was not a night off for me, so I started cooking more at home (see my author page on Amazon to read more about my book and easy kid friendly recipes). At about 5 o’clock I would put the littles in front of the T.V. and mix myself one very tall drink and take it outside and water my flowers, and then I would start dinner. With kids under foot and a stiff drink taking the edge off it was important to have some forgiving recipes.  I had wanted to give my book, Real Food, the title Easy Recipes for Drunk Moms, but my editor, Neo Gariby didn’t want my readers to get the wrong impression.  However, I’ve recently stumbled upon Thug Kitchen which I love and now I don’t think Drunk Moms was such a bad title after all.  I especially adore the bad language!  I’ve sworn off swearing to be a better role model for my children, but there is nothing like colorful words when describing cooking and eating good food. Once I perfected my evening routine things got easier. If I’m not nostalgic for the screaming grocery store scenes, I am for those quiet summer evenings with the flower pots spilling over with fragerant flowers and my children fed and bathed. I would read to them  and then tuck myself into bed at 9 p.m.  Those really were the best of times and because I am not the sort of person to ignore good advise I really did cherish every moment.