Monday, 27 May 2024

3 Fun Customizable Noodle Bowls to Satisfy and Fuel Any Athlete

Noodle bowls are a versatile and convenient option for busy parents looking to keep athletes well-fed and properly fueled. Not only are these bowls delicious, but they can also be repurposed into leftovers for lunch or transformed into entirely new meals for the next night. In this article, we will share three exciting and customizable noodle bowl recipes that meet the nutrition requirements of growing athletes and taste good too!

Why Choose Noodle Bowls?

Before diving into the recipes, it’s essential to understand why noodle bowls are ideal for athletes and their families. Here are a few reasons:

  1. Easy Portion Control: Noodle bowls allow you to tailor the meal to each athlete’s specific needs. For example, if your athlete had a double day of practices, they may require more calories, specifically carbohydrates and protein, to replenish glycogen stores. Meanwhile, you can opt for smaller servings of carbs, such as mixing greens into the noodles, if you haven’t been as active. This way, athletes can eat what they need without feeling like they’re eating too much or too little.

  2. Customizable for Picky Eaters: Noodle bowls are amenable to various dietary preferences. Whether you have a vegan athlete or one who eats meat, you can provide options for both without the need for entirely different meals. Athletes can personalize their bowls with toppings and ingredients they enjoy, making mealtime more enjoyable for everyone.

  3. Easy to Meal Prep: Noodle bowls lend themselves well to meal prepping. With a little preparation, you can save time during the week. Pre-cook meats, prepare sauces, and chop vegetables in advance for easy assembly when it’s time to eat.

  4. Teaching Healthy Plates: Noodle bowls provide an opportunity for athletes to learn about healthy plates and basic cooking skills. By customizing their bowls, athletes gain an understanding of the different elements that make up a meal. This knowledge will serve them well, whether they’re navigating training camps or college dining halls.

  5. Allergen-Friendly Options: Noodle bowls can be easily adapted to accommodate dietary restrictions. For gluten-free athletes, lentil or rice noodles can be used instead of whole wheat. It’s a chance to experiment with new flavors and expand culinary horizons.

  6. Perfect for Leftovers: Leftover noodles and sauce can be transformed into a flavorful noodle soup for the next night by simply adding some broth and frozen vegetables. Cold pasta also makes for a tasty lunch the next day. By prepping proteins and vegetables separately, you can mix and match your noodle, sauce, vegetable, and protein combinations throughout the week.

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Noodle Bowl Recipes

Spaghetti Bar

“My favorite option is the spaghetti bar,” says Kristen Ziesmer, a TrueSport Expert and registered dietitian. It allows for easy customization, and spaghetti is generally well-received by athletes. Here’s how to create a delicious spaghetti bar:

  • Use whole wheat spaghetti for added fiber or lentil-based pasta for gluten-free or vegan athletes. You can even incorporate zoodles (finely sliced or spiralized zucchini) for a lighter alternative.
  • Make your own sauce using pureed tomato, a dash of olive oil, Italian seasoning, and your choice of vegetables. Sautéed onions, garlic, chopped spinach, and fresh tomatoes can enhance the flavor and nutrient density of your sauce.
  • Add protein by including chicken or ground beef directly into the sauce or serving it on the side.
  • Optional toppings like parmesan cheese or fresh spinach can elevate the dish further, providing extra calories, bulk, and nutrients.

Build Your Own Pasta Salad

A cold pasta salad is a refreshing dinner option or a perfect school lunch that kids can assemble themselves. Here’s how to create a tasty pasta salad:

  • Choose smaller pasta varieties like shells, spirals, or macaroni, preferably whole wheat or lentil-based.
  • Create a simple vinaigrette dressing using olive oil, red wine vinegar, honey, and mustard.
  • Chop vegetables such as black olives, red onion, tomato, and herbs like spinach or arugula to add flavor and nutrient density.
  • Prep your preferred protein, such as chicken breast, steamed shrimp, or canned tuna.
  • Enhance the salad with extras like crumbled feta cheese or seasoned tofu for added flavor, fat, and fiber.
  • Toss all the ingredients together, adjusting the ratios to suit each family member’s preferences. Ensure every piece gets a light coating of dressing for the best flavor. Enjoy the salad cold or warm it up!
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Go Asian-Inspired with Rice Noodles

Creating a do-it-yourself Pad Thai-inspired experience is an excellent way to explore new flavors. Rice noodles serve as the base, making it suitable for gluten-free athletes who require ample carbohydrates. Here’s how to make an Asian-inspired noodle bowl:

  • Use brown rice noodles, following the instructions on the package for the cooking time.
  • Make a Pad Thai-style sauce by combining equal parts creamy peanut butter, soy sauce (or coconut aminos/tamari for gluten-free options), rice vinegar, a pinch of brown sugar, and a splash of fish sauce (optional). Adjust the ratios to find the desired flavor.
  • Choose your preferred protein, such as tofu, eggs, chicken, or shrimp.
  • Add vegetables like bean sprouts, broccoli sprouts, and chopped scallions for texture and added nutrients.
  • Toss all the ingredients together to ensure the sauce evenly coats the noodles, protein, and vegetables.
  • Squeeze some lime juice on top for a burst of flavor. The noodle bowl can be enjoyed warm or cold, making leftovers an excellent choice for lunch.


Noodle bowls offer a delicious, healthy, and customizable option to fuel athletes. The combination of complex carbohydrates from pasta, lean protein, healthy fats in flavorful sauces, and nutrient-dense vegetables makes noodle bowls a perfect go-to meal for families. Whether you’re dealing with picky eaters or time constraints, noodle bowls provide an easy solution to keep athletes well-nourished and satisfied.

If you’re in search of a versatile, tasty, and convenient meal option for athletes, give these customizable noodle bowls a try. They’re sure to become a hit at your family table!

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