The last time I had a meal with an Olympian was in 1976 with Bruce Jenner over my bowl of Wheaties. Honestly, it was not very personal and with limited conversation.  Recently, I had the extraordinary opportunity to interview and dine with Olympian Nicole Barnhart. Nicole is a goalkeeper for the US Women’s National Soccer team that recently returned from the FIFA World Cup Series. She is also a 2008 Olympic Gold medalist. Having accrued an incredible resume on the US Women’s National team,  I was thrilled to meet a humble, sincere, and extremely genuine young woman.

Nicole Barnhart US Women’s National Soccer Team and 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist

Nicole started touring with the US National Team after the 2004 Olympics.  As a 2004 Stanford University graduate with a degree in psychology and studio art, Nicole earned the opportunity to travel the country on the US Women’s National Team as they built momentum and support after the team’s success in Athens. Many Americans are familiar with the US National Team goalkeepers Hope Solo and Briana Scurry, however Nicole Barnhart has played a significant and remarkable role in the team’s success. Nicole is an exceedingly modest person, so I must tell you her credentials are outstanding. She has been the backup goalkeeper for the last two FIFA World Cup teams as well as the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In 2010, Nicole lead the team to a 8–1-2 recorder during the World Cup trials while Hope Solo underwent surgery. Sports commentators  always talk about the “depth” on the team. The sixth man, the relief pitcher, and the special teams players who prove themselves in the clutch. Nicole  has the talent necessary as the “go to player” and the heart as well.

Bistro on Bridge Phoenixville, PA

As we chatted over our meal at Bistro On Bridge in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania,   I learned of Nicole’s bi-coastal lifestyle for the last year, her LOVE of cooking and the  fact that her television remote has two settings – ESPN and The Food Network. This trendy bi-coastal lifestyle keeps Nicole hopping  from east to west. The back and forth isn’t because she has a timeshare to escape the cold weather of the east coast; her travels are all for the love of soccer.  Her east coast life starts in her home state of Pennsylvania (Gilbertsville, PA) were she is tending goal for  the Philadelphia Independence.  The Independence  is one of six teams in the  Women’s Professional Soccer League  and Nicole was getting ready to leave for the Championship Game against the Western New York Flash.  The game was very exciting and the winner was determined by a shootout.  The Independence did not come out victorious and you can view the highlights at http://www.womensprosoccer.com/philadelphia.   After the season, Nicole heads west  to California where the majority of her time is spent training with the National team and assisting as a volunteer coach for Stanford.

Jen Heasley and Nicole Barnhart at Bistro On Bridge

It is always uplifting for me to meet another person who is passionate about what they do in life. For Nicole,  playing soccer is the blood that runs through her veins. Even though there is some disappointment at the lack of support that many professional women’s sports teams experience, that will not stop Nicole  from playing as long as she possibly can and representing the United States in the 2012 Olympics. Because Nicole is so dedicated to her sport and maintaining excellent health, her love of cooking allows her to fuel her body.  While discussing our favorite foods, it was evident that Nicole goes to great stakes to be mindful of what she puts in her body. Adding fresh ingredients and herbs to her dishes, is one of Nicole’s tricks to avoiding the fats and additives. That is the tell-tale sign I am not her cooking mentor. That’s like a penalty kick for me 🙂 Not only does she love being in the kitchen,  Nicole also takes great pride in sharing her culinary skills. Family and friends join Nicole in the kitchen, this gives her the opportunity to share her recipes and hopefully an appreciate for her healthy way of cooking. Even as we dined at the Bistro On Bridge, Nicole remained true to her regiment enjoying an Asia Lettuce Wrap and Fall Harvest Salad.  Impressed with her loyalty to the diet and lifestyle, I promised Nicole that I would create a recipe she could prepare quick, easy, and it would be healthy. Don’t worry, I was successful.

South-West Lettuce Wrap

So I did my best to embrace quick, healthy, protein packed, and DELICIOUS!!!

1 pound chicken breast (cut into bite pieces)

1 jar  medium salsa

3/4 cup black beans

1/2 cup frozen corn (thawed)

1 packet sazon seasoning

2 tsp abobe all season salt

2 tbsp olive oil

 1 cup fat free sour cream

1/2 cup taco style shredded cheese

bibb lettuce, iceberg, or romaine hearts (your choice)

1. In plastic bag, toss season chicken with sazon and adobe season.

2. Oven medium heat warm olive oil begin to brown seasoned chicken add salsa, black beans,

and thawed corn as the chicken is browning.

3. While mixture is simmering, approximately seven to eight minutes, pull off individuals

lettuce leaves and plate on a platter.

4. Serving the dish, add a scoop of chicken mixture to individual leaves, top with sour cream, and sprinkle with

cheese.

5. Optional add sliced and chopped baked flour tortillas for texture. Slice tortillas, toss in corn oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper

on baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 3 to 4 minutes or until light brown.

Occasionally we meet people that live life to the fullest. There are many reasons, but all revolve around love. As a professional soccer player, artist, and a great home cook Nicole Barnhart has created the portrait of her dreams. I am blessed to have met a phenomenal young woman and encourage you to follow this outstanding athlete.

The next time you chant… USA…. remember Nicole Barnhart and Who do you want in your kitchen on game day?

Links:

Nicole Barnhardt Stepping Up:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PibifJvI9Y&feature=related

http://www.womensprosoccer.com/philadelphia

http://www.bistroonbridge.com

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