Is CAVA Healthy: A Dietitian’s Tips to Build a Healthy CAVA Bowl

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.

It’s one of my go to restaurants on the road because the CAVA menu is fully customizable.

This means you can choose the foods that fit your health needs whether that’s an athlete’s performance plate plan, dietary preferences, such as gluten free or vegan diets, or you’re watching out for sodium.

And you can mix and match protein, veggies and grains to make different flavor combinations and boost nutrient content, including fiber as well. Our quick read tables show you some of the key nutrient information.

Keep reading below for my tips and tricks for building a healthy CAVA bowl that can boost your performance as an athlete and satisfy your hunger.

Is CAVA healthy?

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.

That’s why many athletes love CAVA and make it their go-to choice for a balanced and tasty meal.

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 is high in sodium, such as dressing, pickled veggies or cheese. For those who are watching their sodium intake, you may want to pile on the fresh veggies for more flavor, keeping in mind this is one meal

But for athletes, the higher sodium can help you to replace electrolytes following a workout. The higher fat spreads and dips are a better option for post game or recovery days.

The best CAVA orders

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.

Everyone can customize and build a performance plate specific to your goals with all the available CAVA menu options.

Get our step-by-step CAVA fueling guide.

1. Build a base

The base of your CAVA meal can be a salad, grain bowl or pita wrap. However, most athletes should start with a grains base to boost carbohydrates for fuel 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.

Grain base

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. 

They also offer some protein and fiber, which can help with muscle recovery and digestion. These are good gluten free carb options as well. 

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 good source of protein, fiber and iron. They have a slightly nutty flavor and a chewy texture.

For some people, lentils can sometimes cause stomach bloating, so make sure to test on a practice day or rest day.

BaseCaloriesFat (g)Carbs (g)Fiber (g)Protein (g)
Brown Rice2504.54635
Saffron Basmati Rice2202.54224
RightRice3706.55869
Black Lentils2607371517
Cava Bowl Grain Base Nutrition Facts

image of grains at CAVA, right rice, lentils, brown rice, saffron rice

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:

  • 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.
  • Arugula: Arugula 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.
  • SuperGreens: SuperGreens is a mix of broccoli, kale, sliced Brussels sprouts, and sliced chicory. It is high in vitamins A, C, and K. It is also a good source of iron, magnesium, and calcium.
  • Splendid Greens®: Splendid Greens® is a unique blend of Belgian endive, romaine, radicchio, escarole, and chicory endive. It is also high in vitamins A, C, and K. It is also a good source of iron, magnesium, and calcium.

Pita wrap sandwich

Another high carbohydrate healthy meal option for athletes is a cava pita made with sprouted grains. If you prefer a sandwich instead of a CAVA bowl, this is a good option for you.

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.

You can mix and match protein and CAVA bowl “mains” to have different proteins or to incorporate the roasted veggies and roasted sweet potatoes to boost fiber and anti inflammatory benefits.

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 “main” options

MainCaloriesFat (g)Carbs (g)Fiber (g)Protein (g)
Braised Lamb210122124
Grilled Chicken250133128
Falafel350262456
Harissa Honey Chicken260147226
Roasted Vegetables1004.51453
Spicy Lamb Meatballs300223134
Sweet Potatoes18043513
CAVA protein nutrition facts

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 also 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
  • Avocado

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.
images of the CAVA dip and spread options for is cava healthy

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
  • Skhug
  • Hot harissa vinaigrette
  • Garlic dressing
image of white bowl with smaller bowls of rice, chicken, spinach, tatziki and arrows pointing to the larger bowl

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.

Final thoughts

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.

We’ve got a step by step guide to building the healthiest CAVA bowl in our SHOP. Also see our post for a guide on ordering gluten free at CAVA or vegan options at CAVA.

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