Super Bowl

Eating Like Champions

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I planned not to watch the Super Bowl this year. I didn't buy any avocados; I didn't make any seven-layer dip; I didn't invite myself to anyone's party. Because I knew the Patriots would win and had no interest in seeing happy New England fans or supermodel-selfie-sideline celebrations. Of course, with our new Alexa dot, I couldn't help asking the score from time to time, and eventually I was lured by Atlanta's deceptive lead into watching the second half. My mistake. Ugh. Nauseating image courtesy of NBC News

However, Tom Brady's latest triumph has revived national curiosity: how does the man do it? How does he play so well for so long and marry a supermodel and win over and over and over again? One key put out there is the family diet: like a Michael Pollan book, the Brady-Bundchens eat mostly plants, no processed food, no sugar, hardly any meats. Business Insider headlines this as an "insane" diet, and, while I wouldn't go that far, I'd agree that it's a tough one for Americans to imitate. It's expensive, it requires lots of cooking and prep (tough, if you don't have a personal chef), and it makes you give up many ingredients that make life worth living. When asked what the Brady-Bundchens consider "comfort food," according to the article, their chef responded:

I've just did this quinoa dish with wilted greens. I use kale or Swiss chard or beet greens. I add garlic, toasted in coconut oil. And then some toasted almonds, or this cashew sauce with lime curry, lemongrass, and a little bit of ginger. That's just comfort food for them.

Tasty? Sounds like it. Comfort food? Uh...I guess if you take comfort in how your money and elite lifestyle shelter you from the mac-and-cheese of the masses.

But while we can't all live round-the-clock like triumphant Brady-Bundchens, we can try to inject a little Food of Champions into our week. To help you out, I'm including a couple recipes I'm sure they'd approve.

Confetti Quinoa Salad from THE NO MEAT ATHLETE COOKBOOK

 

Confetti Quinoa Salad

2 cups cooked, cooled quinoa (see what I mean about lots of time to cook?)

1 cup diced pineapple

1 cup corn

1 diced red bell pepper

1 diced red onion

2 scallions, sliced

1 large tomato, chopped

lime-cumin vinaigrette or avocado-lime dressing till moist (use your fave recipe--Deborah Madison has a good one)

1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds or pine nuts

1/4 cup cilantro

Toss all together and salt and pepper to taste.

And then there's the kale salad I've eaten and then made numerous times, and which a recent non-kale-fan declared "the best salad you can make with kale." Don't skimp on using all the dressing because it weighs the ingredients down and makes the kale tasty.

More than a Pinch of Yum

 

Pinch of Yum's Chopped Thai Salad w Sesame-Garlic Dressing

5 cups Baby kale or slivered dinosaur kale, stems removed

2 Bell peppers, julienned

3 lg Carrots, grated or julienned

1 cup Cilantro, chopped

16 oz Edamame, cooked and pulsed a couple times in food processor

3 cloves Garlic, minced

3 Green onions, sliced

3/4 cup cashews, toasted and chopped

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, leaving out the cashews if you're not serving it right away. Then, combine dressing ingredients and toss. Right before serving, sprinkle with the cashews.

Dressing:

1/3 cup Canola oil

2 tbsp Distilled vinegar, white

1 tbsp Sesame oil

2 Tbsp water

3 Tbsp soy sauce

squeeze of lime juice

squeeze of lemon juice

2 Tbsp honey

There you go. With these two salads, prepare to conquer.

Hold the Plastic: Easy, Homemade Super Bowl Snacks

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You could argue that the Super Bowl combines some of the worst, most regrettable traits of our great nation: overeating and drinking, brain-damage- and broken-bone-inducing violence, and the generation of tons of plastic trash, but at least this season it doesn't also involve Tom Brady.

While I'm no die-hard football fan, this year I made the mistake of reading League of Denial before the season was over. I was curious, see. I was reading Rotten Tomatoes ratings of Will Smith's movie Concussion, and several said it wasn't as powerful as the book it was based on, the aforementioned League of Denial. So then I had to read the book.

Suffice to say, I came away thinking the NFL is something like the Hunger Games. A few among us have been selected to risk their lives, in order to satisfy our desire for entertainment and violence. As a reward, they are given fame and money. In the Hunger Games the losers end up dead, and in the NFL a significant number of both winners and losers end up with brain damage. As a result of sustaining too many repeated concussive traumas, too many ex-NFL players end up depressed, suicidal, given to impulsive spending, addictions, and rage. There just isn't a way to prevent repeated collisions, where your body goes from 20-25mph down to 0, and your soft brain smacks against your skull. High-tech helmets won't do it; rules against leading with the head won't do it.

Whew. Told you it was the wrong week to read this book. I suppose the least we fans can do for their sacrifice is fork over the fame and money.

If you're been invited to a Super Bowl party this year or plan to host one (or just want to flop on the couch with a beer and lots of tasty treats), skip the storebought snacks and whip a few things up at home. Not only will you spare the earth those endless plastic clamshell containers, but you'll also spare yourself their contents.

VEGGIE PLATTER. It's not actually that hard to cut up carrot and celery sticks, a bell pepper, and a cucumber. Then open that recyclable metal can of garbanzo beans and throw it in the food processor for some hummus. You will need to buy tahini paste--more than one recipe's worth--but once you realize how easy it is to make hummus, you'll never go back to the plastic.

5-LAYER DIP. Recyclable metal can of refried beans. Recyclable glass jar of favorite salsa. Two ripe avocados, mashed. Reusable plastic container of sour cream (my sincere apologies--I have tried to make homemade sour cream a couple times and failed utterly). Shredded cheese. Small can of olives, if you don't detest them.

BRAIN FOOD. Fish is brain food. So are blueberries. How about some smoked salmon and boxed crackers with a box of cream cheese to spread? How about blueberries just washed and as they are? We can at least wish our undamaged brain mojo on the players.

MEATBALLS IN THE CROCK POT. All you need is a pound of ground beef, some breadcrumbs, parsley, salt & pepper, and an egg. Dump them in the slow cooker and pour a bottle of barbecue sauce over. Or, alternately, a large can of tomato sauce mixed with a can of whole-berry cranberry sauce. Let them cook on high 4-5 hours. (You can put everything in the container the night before and refrigerate.)

DEVILED EGGS. Seriously, there is no reason to buy a platter of these. All you have to do is boil some (preferably older) eggs. (Place eggs in cold water in pot. Set over high heat. Bring to a boil, then cover and remove from heat. Let sit 15 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water. Peel when ready.) Cut the boiled eggs in half and pop the yolks into a bowl. Mash the yolks up with mayo, mustard, salt, and pepper to your preferred taste and consistency. Stuff the egg halves and sprinkle paprika over.

Have a great weekend, and may we be treated to not a single player seeing stars or being carted off the field!