Four-time undefeated boxing world champion, cooking personality, and passionate health advocate, Laila Ali’s Food For Life features over 100 sassy recipes that will help you “swap it out.”
In Laila’s kitchen, nutrition is King, but flavor is Queen! In her debut cookbook, Laila shows you how to make knockout meals in ways that work with your busy and demanding life, so you can eat healthy, delicious food without feeling hungry!
Food for Life shares more than 100 of Laila's favorite recipes. Whether you’re new to cooking, busy feeding a family, or ready to eat healthier, Food for Life will be your guidebook!
In Food for Life, you’ll find real-life recipes to bring simple, healthy, hearty, and satisfying food to the table, such as:
- Stovetop Ratatouille
- Oven-“Fried” Chicken
- West Coast Southern Greens
- The Greatest of All Time Burger (her father's favorite)
- Heavenly Lemon Yogurt Cake
LAILA ALI is a world-class athlete, fitness and wellness expert, TV host, cooking enthusiast, founder of the Laila Ali Lifestyle Brand, and mother of two children. The daughter of global icon Muhammad Ali, Laila herself is a four-time undefeated boxing world champion. A cooking enthusiast, Laila has appeared on Food Network’s celebrity edition of Chopped, hosted FYI’s Late Nite Chef Fight. Laila lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Curtis Conway, and their two children.
Set the Tone
VICTORIOUS BREAKFAST RECIPES
Chard, Cheddar, and Sausage Breakfast Casserole
Cinnamon, Carrot, and Maca Muffins
Green Power Shake
Cold Brew Coffee: For Those Who Want It All!
Coffee Lover's Smoothie
Green Salsa-Poached Eggs
Pecan Sweet Potato Pie Oatmeal Parfait
Chicken and Egg Breakfast Tacos
Skillet Smashed Rosemary Potatoes and Eggs
Anytime Miso Soup
When you start the day with a healthy breakfast, you're much more likely to keep it up for the rest of the day. But when it's a doughnut at the desk or a bagel behind the wheel, you are headed in the wrong direction! These breakfast recipes are nutritious and hearty while remaining light, like my breakfast casserole that packs in the greens and calls for sweet potato instead of bread (here). My chicken and egg tacos (here) make use of leftover chicken, perfect for when you only have a few minutes to spend in the kitchen. Whipping up a shake is one of the quickest ways to get a head start on meeting your daily nutritional needs. It also gives your digestive system a break because the blender does the "chewing" for you! I count on my shakes to replenish me after a good workout, and I've included two of my favorites-my go-to green shake (here) and a shake for the coffee lover in you (here). And if you're up for something totally new, sip on a bowl of miso soup (here) for a light and warming breakfast boost! Don't forget to check out two of my kids' favorite breakfast treats-pancakes and blueberry muffins-in the Picky, Not Tricky chapter (here and here). Yes, breakfast sets the tone for the day, and it can even set you in the direction of a victorious lifestyle!
CHARD, CHEDDAR, AND SAUSAGE BREAKFAST CASSEROLE
This dish gets me excited about eating breakfast! If you like "soul food" the way I do, this recipe is for you. It's comforting and packed with flavor, and it fills you up without weighing you down. Most breakfast casseroles call for a large amount of bread, making them carb-heavy. To lighten up my casserole, I use antioxidant-rich sweet potato and load it with greens. Because I love sweet potatoes so much-both for their flavor and health value-I look for unexpected ways to add them to recipes, and I especially enjoy them for breakfast, even in my oatmeal (see here)!
Another thing that's great about this casserole is that you can assemble it the night before or bake it in advance, then put slices in the toaster oven to reheat for a quick or on-the-go breakfast. Or you can serve it with a salad, quiche-style, for lunch or dinner. My Simple Red Cabbage Salad and Avocado, Asparagus, and Artichoke Salad are two nice accompaniments. Serves 8
Extra-virgin olive oil cooking spray
Avocado slices Hot sauce Sliced scallions Green Salsa Roasted Tomato Salsa
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat an 8 by 10-inch casserole pan with cooking spray.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. If you are using turkey, chicken, or another lean sausage meat, add a generous coating of cooking spray. If it's a fatty sausage, skip the oil. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until it starts to release a little fat, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for 10 to 15 minutes more, until the sausage and onion are well browned. Transfer to a plate to cool.
Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Beat in the salt, garlic powder, turmeric, and cayenne, then stir in the sausage mixture, sweet potato, all but ½ cup of the cheese, the chard, and the scallions. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 20 minutes, or until starting to set. Remove the foil, sprinkle evenly with the remaining ½ cup cheese, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes more, until the center is set and the casserole is lightly browned and bubbling on top. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes, then slice and serve.
Swap It Out
For the chard, use a similar leafy green such as collards, kale, spinach, or beet greens.
Instead of scallions, try another fresh herb such as dill, cilantro, or parsley, or a combination.
Use any melting cheese you already have in the fridge or you've been wanting to try. Pepper Jack will add a little spice.
Use fresh sausage; there are so many varieties to pick from, including hot Italian, caraway, and roasted red pepper. Simply remove the meat from the casing and crumble it into the pan.
Add ½ cup fresh or thawed frozen peas or corn along with the vegetables.
Add a bell pepper, any color. Chop it and cook it with the onion.
WHERE'S THE PORK?
Because my father was Muslim, I grew up without pork in my household. Then one day when I was a teen, I ate a slice of pepperoni pizza, not knowing pepperoni was a pork product, and I enjoyed it. I don't eat pork now-other than the occasional pepperoni pizzabecause I'm just not used to eating it. If pork is part of your diet, feel free to swap it into your breakfast casserole or any of my recipes calling for beef or any type of ground meat.
Next Level, Please!
Double up on the greens by adding a handful of fresh arugula leaves to your plate. Dressing is optional; while some salad mixes are ho-hum without oil and vinegar, in-season arugula, ideally picked locally, is so full of flavor that it needs no adornment.
Chop the chard stems and save them to add to your next pot of Very Veggie Brothor blend them into a batch of hummus (here).
CINNAMON, CARROT, AND MACA MUFFINS
Muffins have a special place in my heart. I especially enjoy eating them sitting on my patio in the morning with a steamy cup of coffee. These potent, gluten-free breakfast muffins get a boost from maca powder to energize you in the morning. See the sidebar on the next page to learn about this exciting superfood. You can make them ahead of time or whip up the batter for baking the night before, then pop them in the oven when you get up and enjoy the warming smell of cinnamon spice wafting through the house as you get ready for your day. I like to make a double batch, freeze them, and thaw for a quick breakfast or snack. Makes 10
Unrefined coconut oil cooking spray (if not using paper liners)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 10 cups of a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners or grease them with cooking spray.
Sift the gluten-free flour blend, maca, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl.
In a separate medium bowl, whisk the eggs, then gradually pour in the warm melted butter and whisk to combine. Add the honey and whisk until the ingredients are blended. Add the vanilla and lemon zest and whisk to combine.
Pour the dry mixture into the wet mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined. Add the carrots and stir briefly to combine, then add the raisins and walnuts and stir until well blended and the batter has a loose consistency. (At this point, the batter may be covered with plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator overnight. Allow the batter to come to room temperature before baking fresh in the morning.)
Fill the muffin cups to ¼ inch from the top (these muffins don't rise very much) and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and just firm to the touch and a cake tester inserted into a muffin comes out clean. Remove the muffin pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack. Release the muffins by running a small metal spatula or knife along the inside edge of each muffin cup, then place the muffins on the rack to cool completely.
The muffins will keep, wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
Swap It Out
Substitute coconut oil for the butter to make these muffins dairy-free. Melt the coconut oil and let it cool until just warm before whisking it into the eggs.
MAKE MINE WITH MACA
Maca is a plant that comes from high in the Andes mountains, where it has been used as a food and medicine for thousands of years. What I like best about this superfood is that it's an adaptogen, meaning that it helps us naturally adapt to the stressors in our lives. It is mineral- and nutrient-rich and high in antioxidants, and it contains more calcium than milk. It also helps restore hormonal balance and gives us more stamina and energy-who couldn't use that! (Note that physicians do not recommend maca for people with hormone-sensitive conditions such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or prostate cancer, and it is recommended that pregnant and nursing mothers avoid it, as there isn't sufficient evidence as to whether it is safe for them.)
You'll generally find maca in powder form (liquid and supplements are also available). It has an earthy, nutty, slightly sweet and mild taste, making it easy to add in small amounts to pretty much any recipe without being detected. You can sprinkle it into muffin batter, as we do here, use it in your smoothies, mix it into breakfast cereal and energy bars (here), and even add it to desserts (see my recipe for Cocoa Maca-Roons!
GREEN POWER SHAKE
I remember the first time I drank a green protein shake. It was more than eighteen years ago, at the beginning of my boxing career. My nutrition coach mixed up some bland-tasting protein powder, green powder, and water in a shaker cup and handed it to me. Those shakes became a part of my everyday meal plan, and while they were nutritious, they gave me absolutely nothing to look forward to! Happily, protein shakes and smoothies don't have to be boring and uninspiring anymore, thanks to a greater availability of fresh ingredients and some innovative mixing and matching. This recipe transformed my morning smoothie from a chore to something special to wake up to!
1 cup plain kefir, homemade (here) or store-bought
In a blender, combine all the ingredients except the ice. Blend, starting on low speed and finishing on high speed, until smooth. Add the ice and blend again, starting on low speed and finishing on high speed, until smooth, adding more water if your shake is too thick.
Swap It Out
Swap in coconut water or maple water (seehere) for the water for their mildly sweet flavor and electrolyte content.
SUPER GREENS TO THE RESCUE!
With toxic chemicals lurking in our food, environment, and even our bodies, we need to fight back with everything we've got. Spirulina is one of my favorite toxin-busting blue-green algae! It is grown in either fresh water or salt water via sunlight and is one of the richest sources of easily assimilated nutrition of any food! Now that's a true superfood! This algae offers complete protein and a host of B vitamins, making it particularly appealing for vegetarians. And it is so potent that it has been used by the World Health Organization in its programs to feed malnourished children.
Chlorella is another superfood champion. Primarily composed of cleansing chlorophyll, chlorella has been shown to assist with heavy metal (mercury and lead in particular) detoxification while strengthening the immune system, cleansing the body, and stimulating the growth of friendly bacteria for improved digestive health. It also contains high levels of the antioxidant beta-carotene.
Supplementing with both spirulina and chlorella is a concentrated way of packing in the greens and a powerful adjunct to your daily dose of veggies. Use either or both in your smoothies; you can also take them in supplement form. They even make their way into snacks-you'll love them in my Clean Green Energy Bars!
MY THREE-PART SMOOTHIE FORMULA
When you've got my three-part smoothie formula down-1) a good source of protein, 2) a healthy fat, and 3) a nice handful of greens-your smoothie becomes endlessly adaptable. Superfood add-ins such as spirulina, chlorella, and maca will take your smoothie to the next level. Make sure to use an all-natural brand of protein powder, preferably without sweetener, and adjust the amount up or down based on your size and activity level. When I've got more veggies or fruit in the fridge than I can eat, I chop them up and blend them or freeze them to add to my smoothies. A tip for the tastiest green smoothies: include a little lemon juice to offset the grassy taste of the greens and a pinch of sea salt to make the flavors pop.
COLD-BREW COFFEE: FOR THOSE WHO WANT IT ALL!
Recent science has revealed that coffee is high in antioxidants and heart-protective factors. It gives a sensation of energy and can even help us feel happy. One concern with coffee is its acidity, but this is easily remedied when you cold-brew your coffee. A second concern is that coffee is a mild diuretic, so if you're a coffee drinker, consider drinking additional water throughout the day to avoid dehydration. Cold-brewing brings down the acidity of your coffee by half, and if you start with a good organic low-acid coffee like I do, you'll already be ahead of the game. Cold-brewing coffee results in a smoother, sweeter brew that's kind to your stomach and equally perfect served over ice, heated on the stovetop, or added to a smoothie.
You can cold-brew your own at home with no special skills or equipment required (and if you don't have the time, you now can find the prepared concentrate in many grocery stores). Simply use cool water instead of hot and leave the grounds to soak overnight before straining. This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled and made with caffeinated or decaf coffee. Makes 4 cups
1 cup very coarsely ground coffee (your coffee may be cloudy if you use fine grind)
Spoon the coffee into a jar or pitcher with a lid or the bottom of a French press.
Slowly add the cool water to thoroughly moisten the coffee. Cover the jar or put the top on the French press (but don't press down on the plunger).
Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours (the longer it sits, the more concentrated it will be).
If your coffee is in a jar, pour the coffee through a coffee filter, a nut-milk bag, or a mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth into another jar. If you're using a French press, press down on the plunger and pour the coffee into a jar.
Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Add directly to your smoothies in small amounts or dilute with water at a 1:2 or 1:3 ratio and serve either over ice or gently heated on the stovetop.
Next Level, Please!
Freeze cold-brew coffee in ice cube trays. Pop the cubes into your iced coffee or add them to your smoothie for a thicker, slushy drink.
COFFEE LOVER'S SMOOTHIE
It's no secret that I am a coffee lover! I enjoy the taste, with or without the caffeine. So I just had to create this recipe for all my coffee-lovin' folks! This smoothie-packed with nutrition and spiked with low-acid cold-brew coffee-is the best of both worlds. See the recipe here to learn how to make your own coldbrew concentrate-you'll be surprised at how easy it is! Serves 1
¾ cup water
In a blender, combine all the ingredients except the ice. Blend, starting on low speed and finishing on high speed, until smooth. Add the ice and blend again, starting on low speed and finishing on high speed, until smooth, adding more water if your smoothie is too thick.
Excerpted from "Food for Life"
Copyright © 2017 Laila Ali.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Introduction: Food for Those Who Want It All!,
Set the Tone: Victorious Breakfast Recipes,
Chard, Cheddar, and Sausage Breakfast Casserole,
Cinnamon, Carrot, and Maca Muffins,
Green Power Shake,
Cold-Brew Coffee: For Those Who Want It All!,
Coffee Lover's Smoothie,
Green Salsa-Poached Eggs,
Pecan Sweet Potato Pie Oatmeal Parfait,
Chicken and Egg Breakfast Tacos,
Roasted Tomato Salsa,
Skillet Smashed Rosemary Potatoes and Eggs,
Anytime Miso Soup,
First Impressions: Standout Soups and Salads,
Very Veggie Soup,
Inflammation-Busting Chicken Noodle Soup,
Curried Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup,
Tomato and Roasted Garlic Cream Soup,
Mushroom Barley Soup with Mini Meatballs,
Sprouted Wheat Bread Crumbs,
Simple Red Cabbage Salad,
Heirloom Tomatoes with Goat Cheese, Capers, and Fresh Herbs,
Fennel and Jicama Salad with Lemon and Pink Peppercorn Dressing,
Avocado, Asparagus, and Artichoke Salad,
Shaved Beet, Endive, and Chickpea Salad with Tahini Garlic Dressing,
Edamame Succotash Salad,
Tuna and Pickle Salad,
Kale Caesar Salad,
Smoky Shrimp Cobb Salad with Citrus Dressing,
Make It Snappy: Quick, Luscious 30-Minute Meals,
North African-Inspired Chickpea Bowl,
Shrimp with Stir-Fried Broccoli and Carrots,
Seared Tuna and Soba Noodle Salad with Wasabi Pea Crunch,
Simple Seared Salmon with Sweet-and-Sassy Barbecue Sauce and Wilted Arugula,
Chicken-and-Egg "Fried" Brown Rice with Shiitakes, Carrots, and Peas,
Ginger and Black Peppercorn Beef with Napa Cabbage,
Seared Steak and Spinach,
The Greatest of All Time Burger,
Been There, Done That: Delicious Make-Ahead Main Dishes,
Cremini Mushroom, Black Bean, and Corn Chili,
Lamb and Millet-Stuffed Peppers,
South Indian Coconut Chicken Curry,
South Indian Curry Spice Mix,
Three-Pepper Basil Chicken Bowl,
Stewed Chicken and Gravy,
Pulled Barbecue Beef,
Cut to the Chase: Comforting One-Pot Suppers,
Almost-Instant Shrimp Broth,
Zesty Lime and Oregano Seared Chicken Breast,
Cheddar Chicken Enchilada Skillet,
Loaded Ground Turkey Tacos,
Garlic and Rosemary Seared Lamb Rib Chops,
Super-Sassy Roast Chicken and Potatoes,
Lamb and Root Veggie Skillet,
Talk of the Town: Tantalizing Crowd-Pleasers,
Fresh Herb Cheese Spread,
Rich Ranch Dip,
To Live for Flatbread,
Garlic and Herb Lamb Kebabs,
Citrus Veggie Skewers,
Crab and Spinach-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms,
Quinoa and Parmesan-Dusted Shrimp with Roasted Garlic Mayo,
Oven-"Fried" Chicken Wings,
Cocoa-Dusted Chocolate Truffles,
Picky ... Not Tricky! Easy Kid-Pleasing Foods,
Golden Flax and Honey Pancakes with Strawberry Syrup,
Any-Morning Pancake Mix,
Blueberry and Cinnamon Muffins,
Confetti Egg and Cheese Mini Muffins,
Spaghetti for Breakfast,
Spaghetti and Meatballs,
Glazed Carrot Coins,
Cheesy Cauliflower Pizza,
A Mac and Cheese,
Picky Eater's Turkey Patties,
Crispy Baked Chicken Fingers,
Worthy Complements: Delectable Side Dishes,
West Coast Southern Greens,
Baked Zucchini Fries with Marinara Dipping Sauce,
Big-Batch Marinara Sauce,
Sweet-and-Salty Sweet Potato Salad,
Spaghetti Squash, Seven Ways,
Pure and Simple Squash Puree,
Peanut Butter Citrus Slaw,
Green Beans with Turkey Bacon,
Black-Eyed Peas and Sausage,
Baked Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon and Vanilla,
30-Minute Brown Rice,
Coconut Black Rice,
Roasted Root Veggies,
Cheesy Quinoa and Rice Bake,
On the Move: Easy, Satisfying Snacks,
Cinnamon-Swirl Greek Yogurt,
Smoky Citrus Pumpkin Seeds,
Sweet-and-Salty Cinnamon Pecans,
Rosemary and Spice Almonds,
Clean Green Energy Bars,
Any Berry Fruit Leather,
No-Bake Peanut Butter Granola Bars,
Next Level, Please! Life-Enhancing Concoctions,
Basic Bone Broth,
Very Veggie Broth,
Coco Green Dream,
Simplest Cucumber Pickles,
10-Minute Nut Butter,
Secret White Sauce,
Secret Red Sauce,
Sweet Benefits: Scrumptious, Unbelievably Wholesome Desserts,
Sock-it-to-me Honey Cake,
Heavenly Lemon Yogurt Cake,
German Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake,
Orange Blossom Peach Cobbler,
Chunky Chocolate Chip Cookies,
Red Velvet Cupcakes,
Key Lime Cheesecake,
Cardamom Spice Baked Apples,
Banana Cake with Macadamias and Vanilla Whipped Cream,
Not Your Mama's Sweet Potato Pie,
In Closing : ACKNOWLEDGMENTS,
About the Author,
"Laila Ali punches through the clutter with delectable dishes for life." - Mehmet Oz, M.D., host of The Dr. Oz Show
"Laila knows her stuff. This book is a wonderful guide for maintaining a healthy balanced lifestyle. It’s smart and savvy with an exciting bold range of flavors." – Scott Conant, award-winning chef & restaurateur
"You may know her as a beautiful fighter but I know her as a mom who cares deeply for her family and her love language is revealed on her table of delicious and nutritious meals made with a conscious intention. In Food For Life, Laila Ali gives us the recipe to thrive, using real food made with comforting and familiar ingredients that are simply divine. Thank you for this love offering to bless us one and all!" - Rovenia “Dr.Ro” Brock, Ph.D., author of Lose Your Final 15
"Oven fried chicken, seafood gumbo, and sweet potato pie that won't clog up your arteries? Laila's recipes are winning and will keep YOU undefeated!" - Steve Harvey, author of Jump
"If you're looking to eat right and stay healthy, Laila's book will help you do just that. It's the perfect guide to your daily cooking. This book has flavor!” - LL Cool J
"Laila prepares delicious food that happens to be good for you. Nothing compares to eating food that tastes incredible while giving your body what it needs." - Carnie Wilson, author of To Serve with Love
"What I love about Laila's cookbook is she's giving the people what they both need and want...flavorful, homestyle recipes that are nutritious and created with love! You can tell that she really put her heart and soul into this book!" - Patti LaBelle, author of New York Times bestseller LaBelle Cuisine
I have known Laila for several years. She has always been the most compelling person when it comes to fitness, family and food. Her passion for food has really driven me into the kitchen to try and create some of Lalia’s amazing recipes. I hope everyone buys her incredibly exciting new cookbook and integrates her tips on living a better lifestyle. - Dara Torres, Olympic swimmer and author of Age Is Just a Number
"I love Laila Ali and I love to eat! So I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book. After I stop licking the delicious photos I'm going to start making each and every one of her healthy, dummy-proof, and flavorful creations!" - Carson Kressley, New York Times bestselling author of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy