Is CAVA healthy ? If you’re looking for a quick and nutritious meal that can fuel your body and satisfy your taste buds, you might want to give CAVA a try.
CAVA is a fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant that lets you create your own bowls, salads and wraps with a variety of fresh and flavorful ingredients.
You can also mix and match different combinations to keep things interesting and fun.
CAVA is not only healthy, but also delicious and convenient. That’s why many athletes love CAVA and make it their go-to choice for a balanced and tasty meal.
Want to know how to build a healthy CAVA bowl that can boost your performance? Read on for our expert tips and personal recommendations since CAVA is one of our favorites.
Is CAVA healthy for athletes
The CAVA menu is healthy with a variety of nutritious and delicious options, including salads, grain bowls, wraps and pitas. Healthy CAVA bowl choices include foods high in carbohydrates, lean protein, fiber and vitamins and minerals.
Some of CAVA’s food can be high in sodium, such as pickled veggies or cheese. But this can be good if you’re replacing electrolytes following a workout.
It is also important to be mindful of the toppings that you choose, as some of the cheese based options are higher in calories and fat.
CAVA is healthy choice for athletes who are looking for a convenient and affordable meal. You can fuel your body for performance since you can build a bowl with carbs, protein and healthy fats to meet your soccer diet needs.
The best CAVA orders for athletes
The best CAVA menu orders for athletes have a balanced plate high in carbohydrate, moderate in protein and fiber, colorful (vegetables) and lower in healthy fats. Customize and build a performance plate specific to your goals with all the customizable CAVA menu options.
1. Build a base
The base of your CAVA meal can be a salad, grain bowl or pita wrap. However athletes, should start with a grains base to boost carbohydrates for furel when building a CAVA bowl for pre game meal fueling or post game refueling.
If you’re on a recovery or rest day, you could opt for a CAVA bowl with a salad base or split half grains and half salad.
The CAVA menu offers a variety of grain options, including brown rice, RightRice®, basmati saffron rice and lentils. These grains are high in carbohydrates, making them an excellent source of energy for athletes.
Grain options for CAVA bowl base
- Saffron rice is a traditional Mediterranean grain that is made with white rice, saffron, and water. It has a slightly nutty flavor and a beautiful golden color.
- Brown rice is a whole grain that is higher in fiber and nutrients than white rice. It has a chewy texture and a nutty flavor.
- RightRice® is a grain-free, plant-based rice made from lentils, quinoa, and chickpeas. It has a similar texture to white rice and has double the amount protein and five times the fiber of white rice.
- Black lentils are a type of lentil that is black in color. They are a good source of protein, fiber and iron. They have a slightly nutty flavor and a chewy texture.
Lentils can sometimes cause stomach bloating, so make sure to test on a practice day.
|Base||Calories||Fat (g)||Carbs (g)||Fiber (g)||Protein (g)|
|Saffron Basmati Rice||220||2.5||42||2||4|
Salad base (and half grains)
On rest or lighter days where you want to build a healthy CAVA bowl with greens (color!), you can choose from a variety of options.
Another way to build a base is to choose half grains and half greens to get the best of both worlds !
CAVA offers the following greens chock full of antioxidants and fiber:
- Arugula: Arugula is a leafy green that is high in vitamins A and C. It is also a good source of folate and potassium.
- SuperGreens: SuperGreens is a blend of kale, spinach, and other leafy greens. It is high in vitamins A, C, and K. It is also a good source of iron, magnesium, and calcium.
- Baby spinach: Baby spinach is a leafy green that is high in vitamins A and C. It is also a good source of folate and potassium.
- Romaine: Romaine is a leafy green that is high in vitamins A and C. It is also a good source of folate and potassium.
- Splendid Greens®: Splendid Greens® is a blend of spinach, kale and other leafy greens. It is high in vitamins A, C, and K. It is also a good source of iron, magnesium, and calcium.
Pita wrap sandwich
You can build your own pita and stuff it full of protein, veggies, sides and dressings.
2. Add a lean protein
CAVA’s menu has a variety of protein options, including chicken, lamb, falafel and spicy lamb meatballs. The proteins are all grilled or roasted and are free of antibiotics and hormones.
The sweet potatoes will also add more carbohydrates to increase your energy stores.
Choose a lean and lower fat protein option like grilled grilled and honey chicken when building your performance plate. Better options for before a game are grilled and honey chicken and braised lamb which offer between 24-28 grams of protein per serving.
Falafels are a good vegetarian option when combined with hummus and other plant based protein dip. However since they are fried, they are higher in fat and may take longer to digest, causing stomach upset if eaten too close to physical activity.
It’s always best to try out foods on a practice or rest day and never on game day.
Protein content for CAVA bowl options
|Main||Calories||Fat (g)||Carbs (g)||Fiber (g)||Protein (g)|
|Roasted White Sweet Potatoes||180||4||35||6||3|
|Harissa Honey Chicken||260||14||7||2||26|
|Spicy Lamb Meatballs||300||22||3||1||34|
3. Top with vegetables, cheese and crunch
Round out your performance plate healthy CAVA bowl with a variety of vegetable, cheese and crunchy toppings.
Additionally a specialty topping includes some of the pickled or brined options which can help athletes who are looking to add additional electrolytes to their meals either pre or post game.
Fermented foods have been shown to promote a healthy gut microbiome which supports athletic performance. (1)
Some of the extra topping options
- Shredded romaine
- Pita crisps
- Cabbage slaw
- Tomato + onion
- Persian cucumber
- Tomato + cucumber
- Kalamata olives
- Lentil tabbouleh
- Pickled onions
- Salt brined pickles
- Crumbled feta
- Fire roasted corn
4. Top with dips and spreads
To add some extra fiber, calcium and vitamins, check out these yummy dips and spreads that add extra flavor and a hint of spiciness. Our favorites are the crazy feta, tzatziki and eggplant & red pepper.
Here are some of our favorite CAVA dips to add to your CAVA healthy bowl:
- Hummus: a creamy dip made from chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil. It adds a rich and nutty flavor to the bowl.
- Tzatziki: a refreshing dip made from yogurt, cucumber, garlic, dill and mint. It adds a tangy and cooling contrast to the bowl.
- Harissa: a spicy dip made from roasted red peppers, chili peppers, garlic, cumin, coriander and olive oil. It adds a fiery and smoky kick to the bowl.
- Crazy feta: a creamy and cheesy dip made from whipped feta cheese, jalapeños, scallions and lemon juice. It adds a salty and zesty burst to the bowl.
- Eggplant & red pepper: a chunky and savory dip made from roasted eggplant, red peppers, garlic, parsley and vinegar. It adds a hearty and earthy touch to the bowl.
- Roasted red pepper hummus: a smooth and sweet dip made from hummus blended with roasted red peppers. It adds a mild and sweet flavor to the bowl.
5. Finish with a dressing
Top off your healthy CAVA bowl with one of the flavorful dressings. The dressings add the final touch whether you want a lighter taste or to add some zest and zing.
Choices for dressings include a variety of flavors including:
- Preserved lemon vinaigrette
- Yogurt dill
- Lemon-herb tahini
- Tahini caesar
- Greek vinaigrette
- Hot harissa vinaigrette
- Garlic dressing
Try a kid’s meal
When you’re looking for a smaller version of a pita sandwich, if you’re between games or closer to game time, try the kids meal. Not only do you get the same healthy choices as a regular meal, you can add carrot sticks and milk.
The CAVA menu offers many healthy options and you can make choices based on our tips for fast food, since there are whole grains, good sources of lean protein and plenty of vegetables to provide fiber.
So when you’re asked, “is CAVA healthy?” you can answer, yes. CAVA’s healthy options ensure you can create a bowl that is healthy, delicious and nutritious.
Check out the CAVA menu for more information nutrition, ingredient and allergen information.
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Steph Magill, MS, RD, CD, FAND has over 22 years of experience in public health and nutrition. As a performance registered dietitian nutritionist, Stephanie specializes in sports nutrition and provides simple and actionable information so that athletes can be well fueled for high performance on and off the field. Stephanie has a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and is a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.