Maggiano’s Nutrition: Healthy Choice for Athletes
When dining out, it can be helpful for athletes to know the best menu items to order to support their sports nutrition needs. Maggiano’s Little Italy is a popular Italian food restaurant that athletes frequently enjoy.
Let’s take a look at some general ideas for making healthy choices at Italian food restaurants. Then we will explore Maggiano’s menu to identify nutritious options for athletes.
Making Healthy Choices at Italian Food Restaurants
As a Sports Dietitian Nutritionist, I find it is helpful to provide athletes with practical guidance on the best options to order when dining out. Here are some general recommendations for making healthy choices at Italian food restaurants.
Tips for Making Healthy Choices
- Limit Fried Appetizers – Instead of fried calamari or fried mozzarella, opt for tomato bruschetta, a side salad, or soup to start your meal.
- Choose a Healthy Sauce – Cream, alfredo, or butter-based sauces tend to be high in saturated fat and less healthy options. Instead opt for a marinara or tomato-based sauce to enjoy on your pasta.
- Order Lean Proteins – Chicken, turkey meatballs, salmon, and shrimp are all lean protein options to enjoy with your meal at Italian restaurants. Italian sausage and Italian meatballs tend to be higher in saturated fat and less healthy choices.
- Limit Saturated Fat – To help decrease the saturated fat content of your meal, choose broth-based soups over soups with a cream base. Also watch-out for high-fat ingredients such as bacon, butter, sauces, and dressings added to salads and entrees.
- Select a Healthy Side – Many Italian restaurants offer vegetables, such as grilled asparagus, sauteed squash, or steamed broccoli, which are nutritious choices to enjoy with your meal.
- Choose a Healthy Beverage – Hydration is important for athletes. With your meal choose water, unsweet tea, low-fat milk, or 100% fruit juice over sodas, lemonade, sweet tea, or alcoholic beverages.
Sports Nutrition Needs of Athletes
Carbohydrates should be at the foundation of an athlete’s sports nutrition meal plan, as they provide athletes with the energy needed to perform at their best. Athletes can get carbohydrates in their diets from a variety of foods, including: grains, fruit, starchy vegetables, beans and legumes, as well as dairy.
In addition to carbohydrates, protein is important in the diet for athletes. Protein has many important roles in the body and is necessary for supporting athletes with building and repairing lean muscle mass. Athletes should aim to include protein with meals and snacks spread throughout the day (1).
Athletes should balance out their meals with a variety of healthy, unsaturated fats. Foods such as avocados, fatty fish, nuts, seeds, olives, and vegetable oils (olive, canola, safflower, sunflower) all contain unsaturated fats.
Maggiano’s Nutrition: Healthy Choices for Athletes
Maggiano’s Little Italy® is a popular restaurant chain that features Italian-American cuisine. In addition to dining at the restaurant, Maggiano’s offers catering packages. Maggiano’s catering can be delivered to sporting events for pre- or post-game meals. Let’s now explore the Maggiano’s menu to identify healthy choices for athletes.
All the menu and nutrition information included in this article comes from the Maggiano’s Little Italy® website. Menu options and nutrition information may change as products are updated. For the most current nutrition information, refer to the Maggiano’s website.
Maggiano’s Nutrition: Healthy Appetizer, Salad, and Soup Choices
At Maggiano’s, the Balsamic Tomato Bruschetta is a healthy appetizer choice for athletes. The bruschetta includes tomatoes, basil, roasted garlic, balsamic glaze, and pesto. It is a nutritious appetizer option for athletes to enjoy prior to their meal.
The Ciabatta Table Rolls served at Maggiano’s are a good option for boosting the carbohydrate content of an athlete’s meal. The table rolls contain less saturated fat than the garlic bread appetizer, thus the rolls are a healthier choice.
Maggiano’s Healthy Salad Options
Enjoying a salad before the entrée is an easy way to boost the nutrient content of an athlete’s meal. The Italian Tossed Salad at Maggiano’s is a healthy choice, containing kalamata olives, red onions, tomatoes, and pepperoncini. Athletes should request the Italian vinaigrette salad dressing be served on the side so they can control the amount added.
Maggiano’s Healthy Soup Options
When it comes to soups, it is best to select a soup that is broth-based. Cream-based soups tend to be higher in saturated fat and less healthy choices. Maggiano’s offers three broth-based soups, which are all options for athletes to enjoy with their meal.
Healthy soup choices at Maggiano’s include:
- Italian Wedding Soup
- Minestrone Soup
- Tuscan Chicken Sausage Soup
Maggiano’s Healthy Entrée Options
There are numerous ways athletes can enjoy a carbohydrate-rich meal that contains lean protein at Maggiano’s. Here are several entrée options that athletes can order at Maggiano’s to support their sports nutrition needs.
- Spaghetti with Meat Sauce – Spaghetti topped with classic meat sauce.
- Spaghetti with Marinara – Top your pasta with chicken, shrimp, or salmon for added protein.
- Rigatoni Arrabbiata – Pasta with grilled chicken, spinach, and spicy tomato cream sauce.
- Linguine di Mare – Linguine pasta topped with lobster, shrimp, mussels, clams, and spicy tomato sauce.
- Shrimp Fra Diavolo – Pan-seared shrimp, garlic, diavolo sauce, and linguine pasta.
- Chicken Parmesan – Served with spaghetti and marinara sauce.
- Salmon Lemon and Herb – Request herb butter sauce be served on the side.
Maggiano’s Healthy Side Options
Maggiano’s has a variety of healthy side options that athletes can enjoy with their meal. The Fresh Grilled Asparagus, Garlic Spinach, and Roasted Garlic Broccoli are all great choices.
Athletes can also order a side of Spaghetti Marinara or Spaghetti Aglio Olio for a carbohydrate-rich addition to the meal.
Maggiano’s Nutrition: Healthy Catering Options
Ordering catering from Maggiano’s can be a great option for either a pre-game meal or post-game meal for an athletic team. Maggiano’s offers catering size pans of salad, pastas, and entrees. Maggiano’s also offers delivery, which can be a convenient team meal option for away games.
Using the Maggiano’s healthy menu recommendations shared above, you can create a team meal everyone will enjoy.
Maggiano’s Nutrition: Healthy Choices for Athletes
You are now set with a variety of ideas for making healthy choices at Maggiano’s to support an athlete’s sports nutrition needs. Remember the general recommendations shared for making nutritious choices can be used at any of your favorite Italian food restaurants.
For additional dining out tips for athletes, check out my blog: Building a Healthy Cava Bowl for Athletes.
Join the Nutrition By Mandy Email List & Get a Free Athlete’s Grocery List
Click HERE to join the Nutrition By Mandy e-mail list. When you join you will receive a free athlete’s grocery list to print and take with you to the store.
About the Author
Mandy is a Sports Dietitian Nutritionist in the San Antonio, TX area. She is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, a Licensed Athletic Trainer, and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine. Mandy has experience working with athletes at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. She believes the key to reaching one’s full potential, both in everyday life and in sports performance, relies on a healthy nutritional foundation. Learn more about the work Mandy does here.