Dairy Good Life

Feeding wrestlers


Three years ago, when Dan joined the wrestling team, I could often be heard saying, “Never in a million years did I think I’d have a wrestler.” Now, I have three wrestlers, and I’m still shaking my head in disbelief. 

Daphne started elementary club wrestling last year. Monika joined our school’s brand-new girls wrestling team this year.

Dan and Monika wrapped up their seasons last month. Daphne has one more wrestling tournament, and then, we’ll call this season complete. Looking back, it was a whirlwind of practices, matches, and tournaments; of aches, pains, and strength gains; of triumphs and tears. Overall, though, it was so enjoyable to watch them wrestle and witness their physical and mental growth.

For three months, it seemed like everything revolved around wrestling: our schedule, the laundry, the meal prepping. Even our living room evolved. We rearranged it to make room for a wrestling mat, which meant that even I was pulled in as a practice partner at times. Every time I got close to pinning one of the girls, they’d succumb to laughter, and we’d have to pause the match.

Our conversations also centered on wrestling: How was practice? How was your match? What did the scale say this morning? Are you under or over? What are you eating today?

When Monika and Daphne started wrestling, I got questions from others about female wrestlers, weight classes, and weighing in. That whole “never ask a woman her weight” adage is deeply embedded in the American psyche. The answer is, “Yes. We talk about it the same way I talk about it with Dan.”

The number on the scale is just a measure of gravitational pull at a specific moment. However, that gravitational pull does fluctuate depending upon what a wrestler does or doesn’t eat, how hard they pushed themself at practice, how much they slept, and how much water they drank, etc. That gravitational pull dictates whether you get to wrestle your match or not.

I am grateful that Dan and Monika settled into their weight classes fairly easily, but I also did everything I could to help them stay there, which included answering their questions about nutrition and providing nutrient-dense meals and snacks.

I made meals that included lots of protein, healthy fats, and healthy carbs. We ate lots of slow-cooked beef and pork roasts, meatballs, and roasted chicken with buttered veggies and brown rice. Scrambled eggs for supper became a go-to when I was short on time.

I kept high-protein snacks in the fridge and pantry; Greek yogurt, beef jerky, and string cheese were a few of their favorites. Shakes made with whole milk and whey protein helped the kids meet their protein needs, as well.

I also stopped baking and kept most sweets out of the house. (Ice cream was the one treat we kept on hand.) At one point toward the end of the high school season, Glen said he was going to have to punch a new hole in his belt. I reminded him of what the the kids’ coaches always say: “Wrestling is a whole-family sport.”

In the end, our family’s efforts and the kids’ individual efforts were 100% worth it. Dan, Monika, and Daphne each met their wrestling goal for the season. Hard work, mental toughness, and good nutrition all helped them get there.

This creamy hamburger rice was a wrestling-season favorite. I usually make it with leftover rice but freshly cooked works too. You can skip the celery and onion if you’re short on time. I know you’ll wonder: Who puts cottage cheese in a dish like this? But, trust me, it’s way better than a can of cream-of-something soup and adds extra protein.

Also, it’s not the prettiest looking meal, but it sure is tasty and reheats well. If you don’t have hungry wrestlers to feed or like having leftovers in the fridge, a half batch might be appropriate.

Creamy hamburger rice

2 pounds ground beef

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

4 medium celery stalks, minced

1 medium sweet yellow onion, minced

2 teaspoons minced garlic (or 2 cloves, pressed)

24-ounce bag frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, corn, green beans)

4 cups cooked brown rice

2 cups whole milk cottage cheese

1/2 cup heavy cream

You can reduce the rice to 2 cups or forgo the rice altogether, depending on your wrestlers’ carbohydrate needs. If you omit the rice, you might not need the heavy cream.

In a 6-quart pot, brown the ground beef over medium heat, then add salt and pepper. Add celery and onion to ground beef, cover the pot, and cook until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. While celery and onion are cooking, thaw the frozen vegetables in the microwave. Add the thawed vegetables and cooked rice to the beef mixture and stir well. Let cook until veggies are hot, stirring occasionally. Gently stir in the cottage cheese and cream. Remove from heat and serve.

Sadie Frericks and her husband, Glen, milk 100 cows near Melrose, Minnesota. They have three children: Dan, Monika, and Daphne. Sadie also writes a blog at www.dairygoodlife.com. She can be reached at [email protected].


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