A sesame-crusted tuna sandwich with kale and micro-greens.

For years, elite athletes like Serena Williams, LeBron James and Tom Brady have extolled the virtues of eating healthy, saying that eating better gives them a competitive boost. Café Evergreen in Nokomis wants to give young athletes that same edge. The health-conscious restaurant recently launched a new program called Food Is Fuel, which offers discounts to students.

Mahi-mahi tacos with pico de gallo and a cabbage slaw, topped with avocado sour cream.

"You're not going to become a professional athlete eating at McDonald's," says Ted Weinberger, who operates the restaurant with his wife, Annette Weinberger, and Matthew Viola and Nick Liesen. Thanks to Cafe Evergeeen, there's no need for aspiring athletes to turn to fast food for an inexpensive meal. The restaurant now offers a 15 percent discount to any students who come in and charges students a discounted $5 for what it calls a "wellness smoothie," a delicious blend of spinach, banana, almond milk and plant protein.

Mediterranean-seasoned salmon and shrimp over quinoa rice pilaf.

While the deal is aimed at boosting the performance of student athletes, any student can take advantage of it. According to Weinberger and Viola, eating healthier can also help kids improve their study habits and get better grades.

In addition to reaching out to young athletes, the café also recently linked with Major League Baseball's Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves to provide healthy meals before and after the teams' spring training games. (The Phillies play their spring training home games in Clearwater, while the Braves now play in North Port.) Weinberger says the keys to creating dishes that help your performance are simple. The meals must be easily digestible and high in protein (think antibiotic-free chicken or wild-caught mahi-mahi), with pasta salads, vegetables and greens rounding out the menu.

"A lot of times, it's not what you're eating," Weinberger says. "It's what you're not eating." That means you should avoid fried or processed foods. Café Evergreen also makes its sauces and dressings from scratch, which allows the restaurant to control how much sugar and salt go in every dish. It's that attention to detail that just might make the difference between sinking a 27-foot three-pointer at the buzzer or air-balling it. Which would you choose?

Café Evergreen is located at 801 Tamiami Trail S., Nokomis. For more info, call (941) 412-4334 or visit the restaurant's website.

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