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Fuel for Fitness: The Power of Protein

Brought to you by the Washington State Beef Commission

Fuel for fitness

As a working mom of three young athletes, part-time coach, former collegiate player, and running enthusiast, I know how essential good nutrition is to feeling good and keeping up with my family’s fast-paced life. But paying attention to my nutrition and fitness goals isn’t where my job stops.

Kids work hard these days. In the classroom, on the playground and, of course, on the pitch! How parents fuel those busy, growing bodies can be a challenge when your family is on the move. But the reality is, children require high-quality nutrition to maintain optimal health and development. A healthy approach to any family’s nutrition includes of a variety of fruits and vegetable, whole grains and low fat dairy options that are optimized when lean, powerful protein is incorporated throughout the day.

Nutritional balance, and getting all five food groups, worked in at every meal can be a challenge and feel like a lot of work (and a lot of food) for most families. But nutrition research shows when protein is consumed throughout the day, a little at each meal and even with snacks, our bodies make the most out of this valuable nutrition. To help your family get started on a Fuel For Fitness focus in your daily meals, I suggest you download the 7 Day Soccer Mom Meal Plan. You’ll find that I’ve focused on giving you great protein-included meal options for every meal, every day. And if you’d like more information on protein’s essential role in fitness, food choice tips and recipe resources, visit

In the meantime, if you’re looking for a powerful post-training refueling meal that’s sure to help your whole family enjoy more protein and new flavor combinations. Try this: Steak meet salad. Salad meet pizza. A tasty introduction has been made…

5198.00 Grilled Steak and Fresh Mozzarella Flatbread_pwm

Grilled Steak & Fresh Mozzarella Flat Bread

Total Recipe Time: 20 to 25 minutes

Makes 4 servings


1 to 1-1/4 pounds beef Top Sirloin Filets, cut 1 inch thick, tied

1-1/2 teaspoons lemon pepper

2 cups packed fresh baby spinach

1/4 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (3/4 cup)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1-1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

4 naan breads (Indian flatbread) or pita breads


Press lemon pepper evenly onto steaks. Place steaks on grid over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, covered, 12 to 17 minutes (over medium heat on preheated gas grill, 12 to 16 minutes) for medium rare (145°F) to medium (160°F) doneness, turning occasionally.

Meanwhile, combine spinach, cheese and basil in large bowl. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar; toss to coat and set aside.

Remove steak from grill and let stand 5 minutes. Place naan on grill; grill, covered, 1 to 3 minutes or until lightly browned, turning once.

Carve steaks into slices. Top naan evenly with spinach mixture and steak slices. 


Nutrition information per serving: 437 calories; 15 g fat (7 g saturated fat; 0 g monounsaturated fat); 92 mg cholesterol; 467 mg sodium; 37 g carbohydrate; 4.6 g fiber; 38 g protein; 7.7 mg niacin; 0.6 mg vitamin B6; 1.2 mcg vitamin B12; 3.9 mg iron; 33.1 mcg selenium; 4.9 mg zinc; 99.9 mg choline.

This recipe is an excellent source of protein, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, iron, selenium and zinc; and a good source of fiber and choline.

A note on identifying your young athlete’s protein needs: The amount of protein your child needs depends on his/her age, body size, gender, and activity level. But a good rule of thumb, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, is that protein should make up about 15 to 20 percent of your child’s daily calories. According to the Kids Health from Nemours website, kids usually need to eat about 1/2 gram of protein for every pound of body weight. This means that a 70-pound child should eat around 35 grams of protein disbursed throughout a day. Very athletic older children and teens might need up to a gram of protein per pound of weight to sustain their energy, growth and athletic development. Seeking nutrition advice specific to your family’s needs is always encouraged.