Nutrition for Young Athletes & a High-Energy Recipe for Date Bars

In celebration of the World Cup (go USA … but please, would somebody tell the fans to stop blowing those vuvuzela horns) it is with great pleasure that we welcome guest blogger, Nancy Clark, MS, RD. Nancy is a sports dietitian and author of the much-beloved athlete’s nutrition bible, Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook — among many other books!  In her most recent venture, Food Guide for Soccer, Nancy and her co-author, Gloria Averbuch, address a wide range of challenges associated with feeding your own avid athletes.  Without further adieu, here’s Nancy!


Calling all soccer parents.  If you are a soccer mom (or dad), you undoubtedly have questions on how to best fuel your young soccer players:

  • What should they eat before a game?
  • Should I give them a sports drink during games?
  • What’s best for recovery foods?
  • How can I manage family meals when soccer is in the middle of dinnertime?

In my new book, Food Guide for Soccer: Tips and Recipes from the Pros, I help parents and players alike understand how to eat for performance. The book is sprinkled with words of wisdom from members of Women Professional Soccer. Here are just a few tips from Nicole Barnhart, FC Gold Pride Goalkeeper:

“When I eat as healthy as possible, I feel better overall, and in the long run perform better.  My body is more resilient; I have rarely been sick since I started eating well-balanced meals throughout the day.”

“I like to make sure I get a good solid, well balanced meal about 3 to 4 hours prior to the game. Just prior to leaving for the game or in the locker room, I am a big fan of eating fruit (bananas and apples) with peanut butter, or I pack a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to take with me.”

“I enjoy creating my own smoothie for lunch.  I whip up some variation of fruit (strawberries, mixed berries, mango, bananas), peanut butter, ice, low-fat and low-sugar vanilla yogurt, and juice or soymilk.”

Food Guide for Soccer also includes winning recipes from all over the world. This recipe for Date Bars was contributed by Abby Wambach, Forward for the Washington Freedom.

Amy Wambach’s Date Bars (tested and tweaked a tad by The Meal Makeover Moms)
Makes 12 Servings

  • 1/4 cup butter or soft tub margarine (The Meal Makeover Moms used Smart Balance Omega-3 spread)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 10 ounces dates, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup flour, preferably half all-purpose and half whole wheat
  • ½ cup walnuts, finely chopped (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil or coat a 9 x 9-inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside (you can also use a 7 x 11-inch baking pan).

2. Place the butter or margarine in a medium-size microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave, about 30 seconds, until melted.  Whisk in the eggs and sugar until well combined. Stir in the dates until just combined.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, walnuts as desired, salt, cinnamon, and baking powder. Gently stir into the date mixture until well combined.

4. Spoon the batter into the baking pan. Bake about 30 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool before slicing.

Print Recipe

For more recipes and tips, visit Nancy Clark on her blog or website.

5 responses to “Nutrition for Young Athletes & a High-Energy Recipe for Date Bars”

  1. SL says:

    All this dessert reminded me of a contest I just entered. Kozy Shack Pudding is offering the chance to win $1,000,000! Visit to learn more, but hurry, there’s only 2 weeks left!

  2. momgateway says:

    we love dates and date bars sound so good!

  3. The date bars look delicious. You have some great tips!

  4. The date bars look delicious. You have some great tips!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *