The health-minded mom and ath­lete-turned-au­thor shares her nu­tri­tion tips

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Laila Ali The health-minded mom and ath­lete-turned-au­thor shares her nu­tri­tion tips.

Four- time un­de­feated world box­ing champ Laila Ali re­tired from the ring in 2007, but she still packs a one-two punch in the kitchen. The health-minded mom and host of OWN’s Home Made Sim­ple chan­nels her culi­nary mantra —“Nu­tri­tion is king, but fla­vor is queen”—in the new cook­book Food for Life: De­li­cious & Healthy Com­fort Food from My Ta­ble to Yours! (St. Martin’s Press, 2018). Her knock­out recipes range from the hearty and all-Amer­i­can (Very Veg­gie Soup) to the whole­somely spicy (the bone broth-based South In­dian Co­conut Chicken Curry) to the full-on for­ti­fy­ing (home­made ke­fir-and kale-in­fused West Coast South­ern Greens).

Food for Life fo­cuses on fruit, veg­gies, and other tried-andtrue whole foods. But Ali—who has a line of sup­ple­ments com­ing in mid-2018—doesn’t shy from toss­ing ex­tra nu­tri­ents into her clean cui­sine. “If your body can process it, you’re go­ing to get en­ergy from it,” she says.

The host of the Laili Ali Life­style pod­cast even pays trib­ute to her late, great fa­ther, box­ing leg­end Muham­mad Ali, with a Great­est of All Time Burger. “My dad loved my cook­ing. He loved soul food and loved com­ing over for the hol­i­days. And he un­der­stood the im­por­tance of a good home-cooked meal,” she says fondly.

What’s one of your fa­vorite com­fort-food dishes with a Food for Life twist? My kids and I love spaghetti, so I said, “We’re go­ing have our spaghetti, but we’re go­ing up­grade it.” So in­stead of us­ing reg­u­lar white pasta, we use brown rice noo­dles or quinoa noo­dles or zuc­chini noo­dles. And not only do we use a good-qual­ity meat—beef, lamb, or turkey—I have a se­cret red sauce that has tons of veg­gies that I mix in the blender. The fla­vor masks the veg­gies so the kids don’t even know that they’re in there.

So the se­cret to kids eat­ing their veg­eta­bles can be as easy as blend­ing them into your se­cret sauce? Some­times! I also have a se­cret white sauce that in­cludes zuc­chini and cauliflower. It’s re­ally about bal­ance. If kids have a su­per-sen­si­tive palate, you’ve got to ease them into it. And you can keep adding more and more veg­gies as their taste buds change. I use my se­cret white sauce for recipes that call for some­thing that you’re not go­ing to see—like mac and cheese. You can make it in ad­vance and have it ready to go. Mix up a batch and freeze it.

Why do you in­clude chlorella in your Green Power Shake? Chlorella is re­ally good for so many things, but I use it for clean­ing heavy met­als and tox­ins out of your body. With all the ra­di­a­tion we get from our cell phones and elec­tro­mag­netic fields, I like to get chlorella into my sys­tem on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

You can add some things into your ev­ery­day ro­ta­tion. It’s just like med­i­ca­tion your doc­tor gives you—it doesn’t work if you don’t take it reg­u­larly. You have to make it a habit. I wake up in the morn­ing and have a shake, and then I’m done and don’t have to worry about it the rest of the day.

How are fer­mented foods life-en­hanc­ing? And what’s an easy be­gin­ner recipe? Dis­eases start in our gut. If your gut’s not healthy, you’re not healthy. We all have bac­te­ria in the stom­ach. When we’re eat­ing bad foods they’re feed­ing the bad bac­te­ria, and it grows and gets worse and you get a can­dida over­growth, which causes headaches, brain fog, slug­gish­ness, and crav­ings. [Fer­mented foods] grow good bac­te­ria for your stom­ach. One of our sim­ple recipes is Ba­sic Sauer­kraut. Sim­ply chop up cab­bage and put sea salt in it and leave it out for a cer­tain amount of time. It’s re­ally easy to do.

And fi­nally—dessert! What sets your Not Your Mama’s Sweet Potato Pie apart? I love pota­toes, and I love sweet potato pie. But you can’t eat that all the time. Mine is a cleaner ver­sion. I use co­conut oil and pure maple syrup. And the crust is made with wal­nuts and dates. I put the turmeric—which is an an­ti­in­flam­ma­tory—in there be­cause it adds a nice golden-or­ange color and, above all, nu­tri­ents. You can’t taste it, and why not get the nu­tri­tion in there?

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