Team Spirit: Houston Dynamo Dig Fresh Cuisine
Don’t tell the Houston Dynamo, but they’ve been eating healthier. Judging by their clean plates after lunch, though, they’re eating it up.
Always looking to maximize his pro soccer team’s performance, Interim Coach Wade Barrett wanted to improve the Dynamo’s nutrition this year, and he had one person in mind to help them: Pat Greer, of Pat Greer’s Kitchen.
Barrett knew of Greer from her stall at the Urban Harvest Eastside farmers market, and felt her experience and philosophy would be a great resource for the team. The request to work with the Dynamo surprised Greer, but she says she agreed to “give it a try, fell in love and here we are!”
Since January, Greer has been providing a variety of dishes made with fresh, local ingredients and lots of vegetables—and the players love them. While she specializes in raw vegan cuisine, Greer happily caters to the varied needs of the team members, working around allergies and including turkey and chicken options for those who prefer them. Consulting with the team’s nutritionist, she designs meals to help the athletes regenerate from their intense training by balancing carbohydrates and proteins, always providing salads full of locally sourced vegetables.
For the vegans, Greer sprouts sunflowers and lentils in her kitchen to make their nutrients more digestible, combines ingredients to provide complete proteins and creates meat-free versions of dishes, like her “Neatloaf” made with sunflower seeds.
Defender Raul Rodriguez particularly likes the Neatloaf, pestering Greer for the recipe so that he and his wife can make it themselves. As a vegan, Rodriguez appreciates working with Greer, for both her knowledge and her friendship. “With Pat, it’s very easy,” Rodriguez says. “We have a chance to share with her—her recipes, her happiness. It has been very refreshing.”
Good food helps bring the team closer together. Trickling in from practice, tired players perk up when Greer calls: “Hey, sweetie!” and asks about practice and whether they’re ready for their next game. New tables in the lunchroom encourage the team to sit down with one another—and they all take their plates to the dishwasher when they’re finished, just like it’s home. Barrett thinks the nutritious diet is good overall: “They feel better, they feel healthier [and] they recover quicker!”
Working with Greer has been above and beyond what he expected, said Barrett. “It’s worked because the players have bought into it; it’s worked because Pat and her entire staff have put energy into everything that they’ve done.”
Greer enjoys the challenge of meeting the Dynamo’s nutritional needs, but even more, she appreciates being part of the Dynamo family and they way they support one another and the community.
“I’m feeding the Dynamo and it’s like I have 40 more kids!”