One of the stars of the U.S. women's national soccer team surprised an all-girls soccer team last night at Asphalt Green, where we chatted with her about what she cooks when she's at home and her favorite indulgent meals

carli lloyd soccer player
Credit: Courtesy of Getty Images for KRAVE

Carli Lloyd is in transit 300 days of the year. Usually, she’s traveling to train and compete—Lloyd, a FIFA Women’s World Cup champion, and the FIFA Player of the Year in both 2015 and 2016, currently plays for the Houston Dash—but Wednesday night, she stopped by New York City’s Asphalt Green soccer club. On that chilly December evening, one of the club’s all-girls teams ran drills on an indoor field. In auditorium downstairs, Lloyd prepared to surprise them, as part of her partnership with Krave, a brand of beef, turkey and pork jerky. Before heading upstairs to talk to the young women about staying healthy and focusing on sharpening their skills instead on winning games, Food & Wine caught up with Lloyd about her favorite dishes to cook when she’s at home (rarely) and how she stays healthy with most of her life spent on the road.

“I’m spending loads of time in hotels and on airplanes,” she says, saying she always carries around healthy, non-confiscatable items with her, including jerky. “I try to limit my carb and sugar intake and eat lots of fruits and vegetables, but there aren't too many healthy options in airplanes and hotels.”

To keep help maintain her diet during the season, Lloyd often finds herself packing the “essentials”—nuts, yogurt, and bananas—and to help with cravings, she often drinks tea at night, preferably a cup of chamomile with honey. Acai bowls are another favorite of Lloyd’s. In Houston, she frequents JuiceWell, where she usually has an acai bowl with strawberry, banana, blueberries, almond butter and coconut flakes.

On game days, Lloyd typically eats four meals (three before and one after): eggs for breakfast; salad, nuts, and fruit, for lunch; and yogurt and more fruit before she hits the field. Afterwards, it’s “important to have protein so your muscles can replenish and rebuild,” she explains. For Lloyd, that usually means eating steak or fish at least an hour after the game.

Despite her impressively healthy diet—which Lloyd says takes “willpower” to maintain—she’s also an accomplished cook.

“When I’m actually home, which isn’t too often, I prefer to cook. When I’m going to be home for a couple days or a week, I go to the grocery store and stock up on fish, chicken—really anything. I dabble in different recipes,” she explains.

Lloyd’s favorite dinner recipes include her ribs, which she cooks in the oven, chicken Marbella and stuffed potatoes. Her go-to indulgent meal though is “good Jersey pizza.”

“It’s hard to pass up. I don’t eat pizza very often. I wish it didn’t make you gain weight, but I do love a coal oven pizza,” she says.

The soccer star also has a sweet tooth. Yes, even one of the best soccer players on the planet eats dessert. Her favorites? Cheesecake and apple pie.

In her home state of New Jersey, she loves Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza as well as Pietro’s Pizza, which used to be in New Jersey but has since moved to Philadelphia. Otherwise, Lloyd doesn’t often find herself going out to eat, if only because she’s already away from home so much.

“If I’m going to go out to eat, it’s got to be a very, very good restaurant,” she says. “Barclay Prime in Philadelphia is good. Nobu is good.”

Staying healthy takes a level of discipline Lloyd has clearly mastered but that doesn't mean she can't appreciate a decadent meal. Take it from her, even the most dedicated health enthusiasts can't "eat clean" forever (everybody gets sick of bananas eventually). In honor of Lloyd's attitude about restaurant-eating, make your next splurge on dinner is the most indulgent, delicious meal you can get your hands on. As a professional athlete, those opportunities are rare for Lloyd—the rest of us can enjoy them anytime we want.