Is Cava Healthy: How to Build a Nutritious Cava Bowl

When you’re on the road or looking for a healthy option before or after a game, you might ask is Cava healthy for athletes? 

Cava is a popular fast-casual Mediterranean restaurant that offers a variety of health and delicious customizable bowls, salads and pita wraps. It’s a great option for athletes who are looking for a fast, convenient and healthy meal. 

Since Cava’s menu is customizable, you can create a meal with foods that meet your specific dietary needs and sports nutrition goals.

Cava has become increasingly popular in recent years. With a focus on healthy and fresh ingredients, many athletes have turned to Cava bowls as a go-to option to eat before practice, before a game and to refuel post game

It is a great choice for athletes who are looking for a convenient and affordable meal that will fuel their 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 are those that are high in carbohydrate, moderate in protein and fiber, low in healthy fats and have color (vegetables). 

is cava healthy, tips for an ideal meal

Is Cava healthy for athletes

Cava offers a variety of healthy and delicious options, including salads, grain bowls, wraps, and pitas. Cava’s food is high in carbohydrates, lean protein, fiber and vitamins and minerals.

Some of Cava’s food can be high in sodium, which can be good if you’re replacing electrolytes. It is also important to be mindful of the toppings that you choose, as some of them can be high in calories and fat.

The best Cava orders for athletes

The best Cava orders for athletes are those that are high in carbohydrate, moderate in protein and fiber, colorful and lower in healthy fats. Customize and build a performance plate with all the available.

How to make your Cava order healthier

There are a few things you can do to make your Cava order healthier. First, choose a base, grains or greens. Second, add lean protein, such as chicken or lamb.

Third, choose healthy toppings, such as vegetables and leafy greens. Fourth, add flavor and spice with some of the dips and spreads.

Finally, limit your intake of high-fat toppings.

Build a base

Build a base with grains

The base of your Cava dish can be a salad, grain bowl, wrap, or pita. However athletes, should start with a grains base 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.

Cava 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 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.

BaseCaloriesFat (g)Carbs (g)Fiber (g)Protein (g)
Brown Rice2504.54635
Saffron Basmati Rice2202.54224
Black Lentils2607371517

is cava healthy, build a base with grains

Build a base with a pita wrap

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.

Build a base with salad (and half grains)

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.

Add a protein

Cava offers a variety of proteins, 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 or sweet potatoes to boost fiber and anti inflammatory benefits.

The sweet potatoes will also add more carbohydrates to increase your energy stores.

Choose a lean and lower fat protein option 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.

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

MainCaloriesFat (g)Carbs (g)Fiber (g)Protein (g)
Braised Lamb210122124
Grilled Chicken250133128
Roasted White Sweet Potatoes18043563
Harissa Honey Chicken260147226
Roasted Vegetables1004.51453
Spicy Lamb Meatballs300223134

Dollop with dips and spreads

Check out these yummy dips and spreads that add extra flavor and a hint of spiciness:

Here is a possible list of the cava dips that can be added to a cava 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.
is cava healthy dollop with dip and spreads

Top with vegetables and crunch

Cava offers a variety of vegetable and crunchy toppings to round out your bowl.

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.

Also fermented foods have been shown to promote a healthy gut microbiome which supports athletic performance. (1)

Some of the extra topping options include:

  • 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

Finish with a dressing

Top off your Cava bowl with one of the flavorful dressings. Choices include a variety of flavors including:

  • Preserved lemon vinaigrette
  • Yogurt dill
  • Lemon-herb tahini
  • Tahini caesar
  • Greek vinaigrette
  • Skhug
  • 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 choices as a regular meal, you can add carrot sticks and milk.

Final thoughts

Cava’s 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.

Check out the Cava menu for more information nutrition, ingredient and allergen information.

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