Eng­land in­ter­na­tional James Haskell ex­plains to why we should keep things sim­ple with our nu­tri­tional tar­gets

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - FOOD -

Pre­heat the grill to high. Place the ba­con on a tray and cook un­der the grill for seven to eight min­utes, or un­til cooked through.

Al­low it to cool be­fore slic­ing into strips, half a cen­time­tre thick, and set aside. Stir in the jalapeno chilli.

Crack the eggs into a bowl and sea­son with salt and pep­per.

Whisk the eggs well. Heat a fry­ing pan over a medium heat and add the but­ter. Pour the eggs into the pan and cook the omelette for two min­utes or un­til it has started to set on the bot­tom.

Now sprin­kle the ba­con and jalapeno over the omelette and top with the but­ter beans. Pop un­der the grill for 30 sec­onds.

Turn out onto a plate and serve im­me­di­ately.

An Eng­land flanker and all round rugby union tough guy, James Haskell is not one to keep his cards close to his mon­strously large chest. “I think the me­dia talk a load of c*** about di­ets and doctors don’t know a lot about nutrition,” he de­clares.

We’re dis­cussing his new book, Cook­ing For Fit­ness, which he co-wrote with chef Omar Meziane. In a mar­ket sat­u­rated with so-called su­per­foods and fad di­ets, Haskell aims to cut through the noise with a re­fresh­ingly straight­for­ward mes­sage: healthy eat­ing is sim­ple, and, yes, of course ev­ery­one can do it. ‘IT’S NOT ROCKET SCI­ENCE’ Lis­ten­ing to 33-year-old Haskell speak, it’s hard not to be swayed by his con­vic­tion. “Ev­ery time you go on­line and ask about diet, sud­denly there’s 17 dif­fer­ent ways to skin a cat. It’s just not the case. You just have to un­der­stand a few rules — calo­ries in, calo­ries out, and to look at your plate as a pie chart,” he says.

Along­side sleep and hy­dra­tion, it is this ‘pie chart’ that sus­tains Haskell’s pun­ish­ing gym rou­tine and his fa­mously big hits on the rugby field. So what does a pie chart con­tain?

First, there’s the pro­tein. Se­cond is an en­ergy source. And thirdly, “de­cent fats and veg­eta­bles”. Three meals, three ba­sic food groups: in the gospel of Haskell, it needn’t be much more com­pli­cated than that.

Haskell has prac­tised eat­ing by num­bers for most of his ca­reer (3,800 calo­ries a day, to be ex­act), but he re­sists the temp­ta­tion to see food purely as fuel. “To get re­sults, there is go­ing to be a bit of sac­ri­fice, but that doesn’t mean you can’t en­joy your­self some­times,” he says. FLAVOURFUL FIT­NESS Cook­ing For Fit­ness con­tains not a speck of the aus­tere as­ceti­cism so com­mon in di­ets. It is filled with recipes that tickle the taste­buds just as much as the ten­dons.

“I’m an ab­so­lute foodie,” Haskell in­sists. “I love go­ing out to nice restau­rants, hav­ing nice wine and hav­ing nice food.”

Of his own recipes, Haskell’s favourites are his take on the full English break­fast — “Peo­ple think they can’t eat it and they miss it, but chang­ing it round makes it re­ally good” — and his spicy snack chilli nut trail mix.

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