YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Nutritionally Speaking

Going for the Gold With Menus for Olympic Athletes

September 22, 1988|TONI TIPTON

Feeding the hungry athletes at the Summer Olympics in Seoul, Korea, is no easy task. It involves a massive shopping list that takes into consideration ethnic, cultural, religious and nutritional requirements for the more than 17,000 athletes, coaches and support staff housed in the main Olympic Village.

The shopping list is a colossal one: 272,000 pounds of meat, 600,000 pounds of vegetables, 274,000 pounds of fresh fruit, 70,000 pounds of fresh fish, 40,000 pounds of rice and 1 million eggs. And that doesn't even include condiments or beverages.

But this list does much more than make sure there's enough food.

It is developed around foods that are nutritious--reaching far beyond the so-called health food--and packed with nutrients and vitamins to sustain an athlete through days of rigorous competition. Plus, it meets the divergent needs of every athlete--from 90-pound gymnasts to 250-pound weight lifters.

ARA Services, Inc., a food service company serving the needs of school nutrition and campus dining programs and medical and health care nutrition programs, as well as supplying refreshments to restaurants and conventions, has undertaken this monumental task.

Its role in Seoul involves overseeing menu planning, staffing, sanitation and other related aspects, according to the company.

ARA Services is also responsible for providing food consulting services to the media and the 1,000 youths from 50 countries who will be served meals at the Youth Village.

Dietitians for ARA estimate the average Olympic athlete's caloric need at 6,000 calories per day, with some consuming as many as 16 pieces of fruit each day.

To meet this goal, ARA, which celebrates its 20th year of food service for the Olympic Games this year, planned five-day-cycle menus that offer five entrees at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Breakfast fare includes three choices of juice and yogurt, four fresh fruits, five cereals--two of which are hot, two soups, four egg entrees, five meat and fish entrees, one each from the complex-carbohydrate-rich food families, eight baked goods, pancakes, French toast, cold cuts and a 25-item salad bar.

For dinner, entree selections feature such protein-rich items as fillet of beef steak, chicken cacciatore, braised pork with green peppers, salmon steak and broiled beef called bul-gal-bi ( a traditional Korean dish containing marinated beef, garlic and red pepper). Kimchi, the popular hot mixture of pickled cabbage and other vegetables, also is served.

Some other high-fiber, Olympic-styled dishes are Southwestern Lentil and Barley Salad, Chicken and Rice Salad With Orange, Cereal Tabbouleh, Vegetable Lasagna and Vegetable Couscous.


1/2 cup oil

3 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar

5 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

5 cups water

1 cup lentils

1 cup barley

1 1/2 cups sliced celery

1/2 cup sliced radishes


Combine oil, vinegar, chili and garlic powders and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix well with wire whisk and set aside.

Bring water and remaining salt to boil in medium saucepan. Add lentils and barley, reduce heat and simmer, covered, until tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Add more water if needed. Drain and place in medium bowl. Add celery and reserved dressing. Toss to coat, then refrigerate, covered, at least 2 hours or overnight. Just before serving, stir in radishes. Serve on bed of lettuce leaves. Makes 6 cups.

Chili Dressing

1/2 cup safflower oil

3 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar

5 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

In small bowl, combine safflower oil, vinegar, chili powder, garlic and salt. Mix well with wire whisk or fork.


1/2 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons oil

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Dash black pepper

4 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup brown rice

2 cups cubed, cooked chicken

1 cup orange sections, halved

1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds

Lettuce leaves Combine orange juice, oil, ginger and pepper in small bowl. Mix well with wire whisk, then set aside.

Bring water and salt to boil in medium saucepan. Add rice, reduce heat and simmer, covered, until rice is tender, about 50 minutes, adding water as needed.

Place cooked rice in medium bowl. Add chicken and dressing and toss to coat. Just before serving, stir in oranges and almonds. Serve on bed of lettuce leaves. Makes 7 cups.


1 tablespoon olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms

1 cup chopped onions

1/4 cup chopped sweet red pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/4 cups vegetable juice cocktail

1 cup shredded zucchini

1 cup quick-cooking couscous

Heat oil in 3-quart saucepan. Add garlic and cook until lightly browned. Stir in mushrooms, onions, red pepper, thyme and black pepper and cook until vegetables are tender.

Los Angeles Times Articles