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Eat Like an NFL Player at Taste of the NFL

Eat Like an NFL Player at Taste of the NFL

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Football fans ready for some football and a feast can still get tickets for Taste of the NFL, a Super Bowl-sized soiree featuring celebrity chefs and NFL athletes who are cooking classic and creative culinary creations on Feb. 1 at Pier 12 of the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal.

Chopped host Ted Allen, E & J Winery’s Gina Gallo, and Bizarre Foods host Andrew Zimmern are attending the charity event, which is held annually in the Super Bowl host city.

More than 35 chefs, including one from each of the 32 NFL markets, are paired with 35 current or alumni NFL players from each NFL team to whip up 50,000 sample-size treats. Each guest receives a commemorative wine glass to sample the E&J Gallo wines, which are paired with each dish.

More than one dozen New York-area NFL players and chefs are cooking for the 23rd annual Taste of the NFL’s 3,000 patrons.

Football fans can tackle pre-game bites from the New York Giants’ Bill Ard and Chef Kamal Rose of Tribeca Grill, who are preparing Italian wedding soup and New York-style cheesecake. The New York Jets’ Freeman McNeil and Chef Taku Sato of Nobu 57 are serving rock shrimp tempura with a spicy sauce.

New Orleans Saints Morten Anderen is teaming up with Chef Tory McPhail of New Orleans’ Commaner’s Place, site of last year’s Taste of the NFL, to make Louisiana sweet potato "bacon" confit with sweet potatoes prepared with smoked European sea salt, barbecued onions, grilled garlic, and ripped winter kale.

The Miami Dolphins’ John Offerdahl is making Nueske smoked duck tartine with mango rum chutney with Chef Allen Susser of Burger Bar by Chef Allen in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. and the Philadelphia Eagles’ Jerry Sisemore is making “Jack McDavid's Special BBQ” with Chef Jack McDavid of Jack’s Firehouse in Philadelphia. Susser and McFavid are the longest-running Taste of the NFL chef participants, cooking for the cause since 1992.

A special Flavors of Brooklyn section will feature NFL Hall of Famer Don Maynard preparing several yet-to-be-revealed dishes with some of the borough’s top chefs. Five not-yet-revealed restaurants are participating.

The evening’s highlights include food and wine pairings, meet-and-greets with NFL athletes and special guests, the unveiling of a cake creation by Cake Boss’ Joey Faugno and Mauro Castano, a musical performance, and silent auction.

Tickets are $700 and can be purchased here. Proceeds benefit the Food Bank for New York City, Community Food Bank of New Jersey, and Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger in Brooklyn.

Click here to see what dish each NFL athlete and chef pairing are preparing for Taste of the NFL.

Lauren Mack is the New York City Travel Editor. Follow her on Twitter @lmack.

6 Proven Strategies to Build Muscle and Strength Fast

ENVY THEM you may, but there are plenty of men who find it difficult to gain weight. But just because they have an easy time staying lean doesn't mean it's any either for them to add muscle.

Also known as "hard gainers," these men struggle to increase strength&mdashdespite regularly exercising and lifting weights. Often the blame their genetics, reserve themselves to endurance sports, and struggle to find "S" clothes at pretty much any clothing store.

But research and experts show that genetics isn't entirely to blame for an inability to gain muscle. And, with the diet and exercise plan (plus heaping helpings of motivation and determination), you can overpower your hard-gainer genetics to build the muscle, power, and strength you want.

"If you want to make more muscle cells, you need to eat more food," says Jessalynn Adam, a sports medicine specialist at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

While being granted permission to chow down may sound like a dream, it doesn&rsquot mean you can just start gorging on junk at every meal. Food quality is just as important as quantity, especially if you want to build muscle.

As Adam puts it, "You need to make sure that you&rsquore fueling your body so that it can recover."

And then there's the other building block of big muscle: lifting.

Essentially, resistance training, done well, creates micro tears in your muscles, she explains. The muscle repairs itself, and your muscles become bigger and stronger, but they still need the right building blocks, like protein, to do so, she says.

If you decide to bulk up by eating junk, you&rsquoll gain fat along with muscle. These strategies will help you gain weight the right way.

1. Start slooooooowly

IT'S TEMPTING to go overboard, but eating too much, too quickly could cause gastrointestinal problems.

&ldquoOur bodies like certainty and routine,&rdquo says Christen Cupples Cooper , a registered dietician and assistant professor at the College of Health Professions at Pace University.

Although side effects vary by person, adding too many calories quickly upsets your normal routine, and may cause an upset stomach, bloating, heartburn, diarrhea, or constipation. (Fun!)

Before doing anything, you'll want to figure out your baseline, Melanie Boehmer, M.S., R.D., at Lenox Hill Hospital. Then, you'll want to add about 250 calories a day and reassess at the end of the week. So, if you're currently eating 2500 calories a day, bump that up to 2750 calories. The goal is to gain anywhere from half a pound to a pound a week, she says.

2. Pay attention to portions

COOPER SAYS it&rsquos easier to increase calories by having larger meals and a few snacks, instead of simply eating more meals.

&ldquoFor example, if you have two scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast, have three scrambled eggs on whole wheat toast with a piece of fruit or container of yogurt with fruit.&rdquo

Cooper also recommends snacking on nuts, which are satiating and also included some protein that help further build muscle.

3. You don't have to use protein supplements

PROTEIN SUPPLEMENTS are effective, but aren&rsquot a magic bullet, when it comes to building muscle.

In fact, if you lift weights, train hard, and eat right, there&rsquos no reason why you can&rsquot gain muscle weight without them.

Case in point: A 2019 study shows that whether you get your protein from milk or whey, the amount of muscle weight you gain will be much the same.

Even with the use of various sophisticated methods&mdashincluding DEXA, MRI, and ultrasound scans&mdashto assess muscle growth, there was no difference in results between the milk and whey groups.

In other words, as long as you&rsquore getting enough high-quality protein in your diet each day&mdashat least 0.7 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight&mdashyou can build muscle without the use of supplements.

"Where protein supplements do help is by making it convenient and easy to provide your muscles with the nutrients they need to grow, which is why I use them myself," says Christian Finn, a UK-based trainer and exercise scientist.

"Supplements are not necessary for gaining muscle weight," he says, "but they do make hitting your daily protein target a whole lot easier."

4. But, yeah, you have to eat a lot of protein

OLD SCIENCE once posited that small meals, eaten 5 to 6 times a day, would rev your metabolism and help you lose fat faster than three larger ones.

New (better) science shows that the same number of calories, whether you eat large or small meals, doesn&rsquot make much difference one way or the other.

Spreading your protein intake evenly throughout the day, however, has been shown to speed up the rate at which new muscle protein is laid down.

In other words, eating small meals more often won&rsquot help you lose fat faster. But increasing your protein frequency so that you&rsquore getting 25 to 40 grams of high-quality protein 3 to 5 times a day may have a small but positive impact on the amount of muscle weight you gain over time.

5. Fear Not Fat

HIGH-FAT KETO diets have spiked in popularity the past few years. But you don&rsquot need to go &ldquofull keto&rdquo to enjoy the muscle-building benefits that fat has to offer.

In fact, simply including one or two high fat meals in your diet has a number of benefits for anyone who wants to gain muscle weight.

"For one thing, some folks tend to burn off a lot of calories throughout the day, and have a hard time eating enough to maintain their weight, let alone gain any," Finn says. "That&rsquos where the addition of some high fat meals can help."

Because fat contains roughly twice as many calories as carbohydrate or protein, you don&rsquot need to eat as much to get the same amount of energy. Adding an avocado to your salad, for example, or eating a high-fat snack like pistachio nuts, is a simple and tasty way to bump up your daily calorie intake.

What&rsquos more, fat also has a number of interesting benefits in the muscle-building department. In one study, a post-workout drink containing whole milk was found to be more &ldquoanabolic&rdquo than fat-free milk. Although both drinks led to an increase in protein balance, it was the high fat whole milk that delivered the greatest results.

In another trial, eating a whole egg did a better job of boosting muscle protein synthesis than eating just the white, even when protein intake was identical.

6. Tighten up your diet

ADAM ADVISES against relying on junk food and supplements for extra calories. Instead, focus more on legumes, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and of course, protein.

32 Foods That Represent Every Team in the NFL

It doesn’t matter if you’re watching the Super Bowl for the football or the commercials because either way, you’re likely to indulge in the all-day eating event. And with Super Bowl 50 right around the corner, there’s no better time for a round-up that matches every team in the NFL with each of their city’s most loved and famous foods.

Scroll through the list below to find your favorites… even if that means accepting a rival’s regional specialty. Food is food, but still, let the games begin. And if you’re throwing your own Super Bowl party, these are the dips your spread isn’t complete without.

Atlanta Falcons: Hush Puppies

Imagine this is what happens when a piece of cornbread meets a fluffy pancake. They fall in love, take a trip to the fryer and emerge a perfect, golden brown. You can eat these hush puppies plain or as many Southerners do, with honey, butter and even ketchup. You also can’t call yourself a Southerner if you’ve never eaten these foods.

Arizona Cardinals: Chimichangas

If you like the crispiness of anything fried and the smokiness of Mexican food, you’ll love chimichangas. But eating one of these deep-fried burritos can practically guarantee a food coma for 4+ hours so you may want to try this baked chicken chimichanga instead. This might be a slight trade-off, but you don’t want to miss the game, right?

Baltimore Ravens: Crab

Eating “local” for Baltimore natives means taking advantage of The Chesapeake Bay and steaming some fresh blue crab. Find out their secrets to picking the meat straight from its shell and creating the ultimate addition to eggs Benedict: crab cakes.

Buffalo Bills: Buffalo Sauce

Buffalo, New York may win in the Super Bowl-friendly finger food category. Add this classic American sauce straight to chicken wings or get creative with baked buffalo chicken dip and buffalo chicken meatballs.

Carolina Panthers: Barbecue

Navigating barbecue in the Carolinas means one thing and one thing only: lots and lots of pork. Their regional style generally starts with smoking the hog whole (sorry, vegetarians) and then chopping it up into succulent pieces. The ‘que is then completed with a not-so-shy amount of their famous spicy, vinegar-based sauce. If you need to know how to navigate southern BBQ, we’ve got you covered.

Chicago Bears: Deep Dish Pizza

Diving into a deep-dish pizza is pretty amazing for people who have never experienced pizza beyond the classic New York slice. Spoon University writers from Loyola University Chicago dub Lou Malnati’s as the best deep-dish in the Windy City.

Cincinnati Bengals: Graeter’s Ice Cream

Cincinnati is definitely known for their unconventional chili — spaghetti topped with meat sauce and piled high with cheddar cheese — but they’re also famous for Graeter’s Ice Cream. If you like the combination of fruit and chocolate, you will love their bestseller: Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip.

Cleveland Browns: Jeni’s Ice Cream

Photo by Rachel Kalichman

Churn up the volume with Jeni’s Ice Cream, an Ohio-based creamery which became famous for their unique flavors like Brambleberry Crisp and Brown Butter Almond Brittle. If you’re lucky and have a Jeni’s location nearby (Vanderbilt Spoon writers rank the Nashville shop first on their go-to list for National Ice Cream Cone Day), make sure to treat yourself with a double scoop to experience two flavors at once.

Dallas Cowboys: Chili

Texans are often top contenders in national chili cook-offs. Their love for Southwestern flavors and famous Chili Con Carne seems to be just what judges look for in a meaty stew. If you feel like taking a break from the red meat but still crave smoky flavors, check out this 20-minute turkey chili.

Denver Broncos: Chipotle

Shout out to this Rocky Mountain city for being home to the first Chipotle. College students love Steve Ells’ approach to the fast food industry so much that they even have their own secrets for creating the perfect order. Check out this list of pro-tips to update your Chipotle experience so that come game time, you’ll be winning all day long.

Detroit Lions: Apple Pie

Photo by Isabella Neuberg

Apple pies epitomize the kindness associated with the Midwest. Anyone who makes them knows that rolling out homemade dough and preparing the apples takes some serious TLC. Take a step beyond grandma’s recipe for the Super Bowl and try these apple pie ice cream sandwiches and these apple pie roses.

Green Bay Packers: Cheese

If you’ve ever been to a Packers game, you know that amidst a sea of green jerseys are giant cheese-shaped hats. “Cheeseheads,” as many Wisconsin locals are called, dually celebrate their state’s high quantity of cheese production while also cheering on their favorite players. Try this cheese-encrusted grilled cheese for the cheesiest game day sandwich.

Houston Texans: Steak

Even if you’re not a die-hard carnivore, the steaks in Texas are likely impress to you. Whether it’s a rib-eye, tenderloin, porterhouse, or flank, any cut of meat is bigger and better in Texas. Intimidated by the protein? No problem. Here’s a foolproof method for cooking a steak.

Indianapolis Colts: Corn

Indianapolis locals celebrate corn in its delicious vegetable state. So follow their lead and fire up the grill and give the cobs a good char. If you’re in a hurry, you might want to know these three ways to quickly shuck and cook corn and this easy recipe for Late Summer Mexican Corn Salad.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Tuna

You can bet that Florida has some of the freshest seafood in the country. Flounder, redfish and mahi-mahi are all popular for fishermen in Jacksonville, but finding a school of tuna is considered a real catch. Save yourself the trip to your local sushi restaurant and go with this easy Tuna Tartare for a simple Super Bowl app.

Kansas City Chiefs: Burnt Ends

Kansas City barbecue sings with its own style. Barbecue lovers slather the sweet, thick tomato-based sauce onto just about any kind of meat. Try the sauce on pork, chicken or brisket, but don’t forget the regional specialty that makes KC pit masters unique: burnt ends.

Miami Dolphins: Key Lime Pie

It’s widely known that the Sunshine State yields some of the country’s juiciest oranges. But travel south of Miami to Key West, you’ll find another citrus that gets just as much attention: key limes. Find out how to transform these miniature fruits into an authentic South Florida dessert with this 5-Ingredient Key Lime Pie.

Minnesota Vikings: Tater Tot Casserole

Also known as Hotdish, Minnesota’s delicacy — Tater Tot Casserole — is the retro version of a Super Bowl worthy appetizer. Crispy tater tots, corn, sautéed vegetables and loads of cheese make this comfort food a Midwestern favorite. If you can’t get enough of the tater tot and cheese combo but want to make it relevant for millennials, you’ll love this Tater Tot and Bacon Grilled Cheese in a Waffle Iron.

New England Patriots: Lobster Rolls

After making it through the freezing winter, nothing hits the spot more for New Englanders than eating a fresh lobster roll. Spoon writers from Northeastern University, Boston University and Harvard rank Neptune Oyster’s version of the creamy seafood sandwich as 25th on their list of 50 things to eat in Boston before you die.

New Orleans Saints: Beignets

Just like donuts, beignets are best when eaten fresh out of the oven and paired with a hot cup of coffee. When in NOLA, follow the lead of Spoon writers at Tulane University and head to Café du Monde for perfectly fried beignets that are doused in powdered sugar. They’re so good that you’ll be dancing — even when it’s not Mardi Gras.

New York Giants: Pretzels

New Yorkers’ bread baking skills deserve a huge round of applause from all the carb-lovers out there. Just like pizza and bagels, the pretzels from New York are in a league of their own. Though you may get salty when finishing your last bite, the fun doesn’t have to stop there. Take this quiz to see which type of pretzel matches your personality, and be sure to check out these foods the next time you’re in NY.

New York Jets: Pizza

The beauty of New York pizza is that regardless of where you get it and how you order it — extra cheesy, thick crust or light on the sauce — you know it’s going to be the best slice of pie you’ve ever had. Get a twist on the drool-worthy tomato sauce, cheese and bread combination with these 27 different pizza mashups.

Oakland Raiders: Avocados

Finding an avocado in the grocery store with a California sticker is like hearing your favorite song from middle school play on the radio – it doesn’t come around every day. So when it is California’s avocado season, consider buying a few extra so you can venture beyond the guac and make one of these recipes that creatively use this luscious fruit.

Philadelphia Eagles: Philly Cheesesteak

Photo courtesy of Pat’s King of Steaks

The name says it all. Cheesesteaks are Philly’s claim to food fame and when you bite into the combo of freshly sautéed steak and melted cheese, you’ll know exactly why. This flavor profile is so loved that restaurants around Philadelphia are crafting remixes for different cuisines and cravings.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Heinz Ketchup

What do you do when your city is home to Heinz Ketchup? Grab some fries or tots and start dipping! Show this sweet tomato condiment some love by adding extra flavor to French fries with one of these gourmet topping ideas.

San Diego Chargers: Tacos

Tacos aren’t just for Tuesdays in San Diego. With a close proximity to Mexico, this SoCal city provides authentic variations of the Mexican specialty with no passport necessary. If you need more ideas for your next Taco Tuesday, check this out.

San Francisco 49ers: Sushi

San Francisco may be best known as a leader in tech, but it’s also ahead of the game when it comes to food. If anyone can think of the genius, sushi burrito hybrid — the “sushirrito”— it’s a chef from the Bay Area. East Coasters, don’t worry about feeling left out because you can make a homemade rendition of this amazing mash-up for your Super Bowl snack.

Seattle Seahawks: Starbucks

Whether you’re a dark roast kind of person or get extra fancy with a caramel macchiato topped with light foam and extra whip at Starbucks, most of us can think of a time when this Seattle-based coffee shop made a super early morning a little bit brighter. Drinking coffee on game day will definitely get you pumped up, but you can also count on these Starbucks-inspired cupcakes for an energizing game day dessert.

St. Louis Rams: Gooey Butter Cake

Photo by Isabella Neuberg

Let us eat cake – gooey butter cake, that is. Get the history behind this dessert and also where to find the best of these cakes in St. Louis.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Cuban Sandwich

Whatever you do, don’t try to convince a Miami local that Tampa created the Cuban sandwich. The sandwich’s origins are still debated and may cause controversy that could take away from the irresistible combination of salty ham and cheese you have in your hand. If you don’t live in Florida, try making this simple Cuban panini at home.

Tennessee Titans: Biscuits

Biting into a warm, buttery biscuit is arguably a life-changing event. And luckily for Tennesseans, this Southern staple is offered instead of bread at many restaurants. Head to Nashville’s Loveless Café — which ranks number one as 27 things to eat in Nashville before you die — to experience the biscuit of all biscuits and some good ol’ southern hospitality.

What NFL Players Actually Eat

I don’t understand most things about football, least of all the food. Why do we eat the greasiest, sauciest, cheesiest foods while watching some of the most physically fit people in the world exhaust themselves on TV? What is it about the sight of immense and muscular humans crashing into each other that makes us crave nachos ? Are we subconsciously trying to protect our own organs with seven-layer dip?

No other sport is so embedded in American culture that it has its own cuisine. But what about the players themselves? Are they as into buffalo wings as the millions of Americans watching them?

Like the myth of the bikini body, there’s no such thing as a football body. You could be 5’9” and 182 pounds like Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Demarcus Ayers . You could be 6’4” and 323 pounds like Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Linval Joseph . Different positions require different levels of speed, strength, size, and agility. Those spandex breeches, on the other hand, seem to be one-size-fits-all.

Likewise, there’s no standard diet that all football players follow. Take Jalen Ramsey, whose photo of his dinner went a little viral this summer.

Commenters were appalled, but Ramsey was unfazed.

Some football players are housing 5,000 calories a day, like Troy Hill , the cornerback for the LA Rams who started the season as one of the smallest guys in the league. He's trying to get his weight up to the mid 180s so he can tackle taller, heavier wide receivers. Hill described his diet as “Just eat. Just eat eat eat.” He’ll start the day with waffles, bacon or sausage, an omelet, and a protein shake. To be clear that’s one meal, not a Monday through Friday plan. Then it’s pasta and chicken for lunch, double-portion on the pasta (the nutritionists are always pushing him to eat more food). Then his girlfriend might make him a lasagna with some more chicken for dinner. In between, he’ll put away a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or two. “I get kinda tired of eating,” he said.

Then there’s Cam Thomas , the Rams defensive tackle, who says he's trying to drop about 15 pounds from his 343 pound frame. Defensive tackles haven't always prized speed, but in recent years the game has gotten faster and players like Thomas have to stay lighter on their feet. For Thomas, breakfast looks more like a shake, and don’t call it a smoothie when you’re talking to football players. Or maybe a waffle with turkey bacon. Lunch sounds like your aunt Debbie’s standard order at her local salad chain: spinach salad with chicken, hard-boiled egg, light ranch, hold the croutons. Thomas has a major sweet tooth—Reese’s, Skittles, and Sweet Tarts are his downfalls—but now he has candy once a week max. Instead he snacks on Skinny Pop popcorn, strawberries, and water. Weɽ almost feel bad for him if he weren’t making millions of dollars a year.

Now consider the case of Lorenzo Alexander , a veteran player currently with the Buffalo Bills, who went from playing defensive tackle to linebacker--a switch that required a total body transformation. Tackles are built for body slamming linebackers are built to cover ground. Alexander lost nearly 75 pounds in one off-season. “I didn’t have any carbs,” he said. “I was really strict, no treat meals. But as I got smaller, I had to add in carbs so I had the energy to go out and play.” “Smaller,” in Alexander’s case, means 240 pounds.

These days Alexander’s diet looks like a nutritionist’s fantasy: half a cup of oatmeal for breakfast with egg whites and turkey bacon, or maybe a waffle made with buckwheat or cassava flour. A few hours later he’ll have a shake with protein powder, fruit, and some kind of powdered vegetable substance called Wellness Greens. Lunch is brown rice, maybe a nice piece of salmon, and either broccoli or a side salad. Dinner is the same as lunch. If he’s hungry between meals, he’ll snack on almonds or rice cakes with peanut butter. Sounds so. virtuous.

But wait, because Alexander lets his hair down on Game Day. “After the game I’ll have a cheat meal,” he said. “I’m a huge breakfast person, so I’ll go get some pancakes, waffles, french toast. We call it ‘brinner’ at our house.”

The Washington football team's kitchen is yards ahead of most fine-dining restaurants. Photo courtesy Washington football team

It’s generally easier to eat well when you have a chef and team of nutritionists on hand. Especially if that chef is Jon Mathieson , who came on as executive chef for the Washington pro football team after stints at fine-dining establishments including the St Regis Hotel. Mathieson’s got a kitchen in the training facility that would make any cook drool. It includes sous vide machines, a brick oven, and a smoker. (There’s also a deep fryer but Mathieson says he’s never turned it on.) Thanks to his guidance, Washington players are putting kale and avocado in their shakes. “Chocolate and kale work great together,” he said, while “the avocado thickens it up.” Most days, he serves athletes a plated lunch with a choice of beef, chicken, pork, or fish. “I took guys who just ate salmon or catfish, and now they’re eating cobia, mahi mahi, swordfish, bass, branzino,” he said. No comment on whether he's instituted white table cloths yet.

Mathieson tries to incorporate fun foods, too, like "Fajita Fridays" with house-made salsa, skirt steak, and brown rice. “They ask for that meal any day possible,” he said. Or a surf and turf combo with salmon and short rib, rib eye, or flat iron. And, wait for it, CHICKEN WINGS. “I bake them,” said Mathieson—a statement that's sure to offend football fans across the nation.

But what happens after a player plays his last game? Retirement seems like a great time to reacquaint oneself with chili cheese fries. Eddie Jackson , who played for teams including the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins before retiring in 2009, had to work to stay at a lean 195 pounds. When he played for Miami, he said, players were weighed every Monday and fined $1,000 for every pound over goal weight they were.

"I grew up in Texas with a dad who was an amazing cook. We loved barbecue, meatloaf, macaroni and cheese. So I had to find different ways to make the foods I loved, like mac and cheese without four types of cheese and meatloaf with turkey instead of beef."

But since retiring, Jackson has become what he calls a huge foodie. He competed on the Food Network's "Master Chef," won "Food Network Star" in 2015, and is now the host of "Kids BBQ Championship." He runs a food truck specializing in Caribbean-meets-Southern cuisine and, oh, he's also a personal trainer.

"My thing now is just moderation," Jackson said. He still treats his diet like a job, sticking to the rules Monday through Friday and giving himself some wiggle room on the weekends.

"It’s like the military. When you’re forced to have your clothes folded a certain way, even when you leave, you still fold your clothes that way. I left the game, but I still find myself being conscious of what I eat," he said.

He focuses on recovery

On game-day, dinner is packed with plant-based foods. Sometimes he will also have a steaming cup of bone broth, he says. (Some research has linked bone broth, which is animal collagen, to faster healing of soft-tissue injuries and digestive health in athletes, while other research debunks those claims.)

Following the game, Brady always has a recovery shake.

As for supplements, Brady says he always takes a multivitamin because no one's diet is "perfect" and you never know what you may have missed.

I ate like Aaron Donald and here's what happened

To be clear, eating like Aaron Donald is no easy feat. It's also no easy feast.

Aaron Donald is a 28-year-old defensive tackle, weighing in at 280 pounds. He has 11% body fat.

I am none of those things.

So, to be fair, eating "exactly" like Aaron Donald is not possible for me. It's not really possible for any average human being to eat like him without getting sick.

How much does AD eat?

According to Rams Head Team Dietitian, Joey Blake, if Donald did nothing all day, in order to maintain his size, he would need to consume 2,817.28 calories. But because Donald is an extremely elite athlete, "On his high-volume days, he is basically consuming 5,000 calories." And, despite what you think, the majority of those calories would be more fat than protein given the amount of recovery his body needs.

To give you an idea of what that breakdown looks like, nutrition wise, Blake estimated the following: 50% Carbs, 20% Protein, 30% Fat.

Or for Donald specifically: 245g of Protein, 616g of Carbs, 164g of Fat.

What's that look like? Here are some crazy examples:

  • 245g of Protein: 6 cups of chicken, 12 Jamba Juice smoothies w/protein, or 30 glasses of milk
  • 616g of carbs: 15 cups of pasta/rice or 20 cups of popcorn
  • 164g of Fat: 7 cups of hummus/avocado or 55oz of fish

… and this is just one day's worth.

So, when I say, I ate like Aaron Donald, I didn't eat a day's worth of 5,000 calories. However, I had his chef, Arron Sain, cook some of Donald's favorite dishes, and I can confirm eating like Aaron Donald is incredible!

Who is Aaron's Chef?

"Lil Arron" is a culinary fitness professional. He is both a chef and a personal trainer. Chef Arron has worked with some big named celebrities, including Nick Cannon and Fantasia. He fell into this opportunity while standing in line at Urban Plate in Thousand Oaks.

"I had no idea who Aaron Donald was." Sain said, "I was just standing in line and he came up behind me." To be fair, Sain's uncle was once the running back's coach at NC State, so when a guy like Aaron Donald comes up behind you, you immediately ask, "Who do you play for?"

Sain proceeded to tell Donald, "I have my own line of seasonings, can I give you one?" He rushed out to his car and handed Donald a packet of seasoning. They chatted for a few minutes more and Sain ended the conversation with, "I'm a chef too. If you want some meals, I'll bring you some." And just like that, Sain exchanged a packet of seasoning for Donald's number.

He's been cooking for Donald for about a year now and has been enjoying the challenge. "It's really a blessing to get an opportunity to really cook for someone like this because it's kind of like getting a gladiator ready for war. I take it really serious."

What did he make me?

Sain cooked up two of Donald's favorites: The Breakfast Tacos and Dancing Meatballs.

The Dancing Meatballs got their name because when Donald first tried them, he danced because they were so good. Sain told me this is usually more of a "cheat day" appetizer. "I would make this for him earlier in the week."

And as for the Breakfast Tacos, it's "the meal Aaron craves the most." Although, Donald told Sain "Food wise, I will give anything a chance."

We know Aaron Donald is special numbers show that. His records show that. But, when I ate the food Chef Sain cooked up, I also felt special. Not all athletes have personal chefs, so taking the first bite straight from the cast iron skillet made me dance too. The meatballs were hearty and have a ton of flavor. The mix of veggies and warm tomato sauce surrounding the oven-baked meatballs topped with melted cheese would probably make most people dance. You get a little bit of everything all in one bite.

And there's no question why the Breakfast Tacos are what he craves most. They are very filling. There is no way I could eat the amount Donald does. They're substantial tacos. I hardly finished one. I would definitely need a nap after eating more than two or three tacos, unlike Donald, who eats six before practice. When you have to cram 5,000 calories in a day, every meal can feel like a competitive eating competition, especially to an average-sized person. But the tacos are magical. Crispy, buttery and fun to eat.

Baltimore Ravens OL 'Big Country' Ben Cleveland says his 'squirrel diet' slightly overblown

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Ravens' drafting of guard Ben Cleveland should put defensive tackles in the AFC North on notice as well as every squirrel in Baltimore.

Living up to the nickname "Big Country," Cleveland acknowledged at Friday's rookie minicamp that he's fond of eating the furry creatures but said the idea of him having a specific "squirrel diet" has been slightly overblown.

"It's more so one of those things where you eat what you got in the freezer from the fall," said Cleveland, a third-round pick out of Georgia. "Get a little hungry [and] ain't got no deer meat left, fry up a squirrel or two and go eat that."

Cleveland's love for devouring squirrels began when he stayed home sick from school one day and all he could find in the house to eat was biscuits. So he opened up the living room window and shot two squirrels for lunch.

He told the Ravens' website earlier this week that it's difficult to describe the taste.

"Some squirrels in south Georgia, they'll taste a little bit more nutty," Cleveland said. "Up here, our acorns and stuff aren't really as strong as the ones down south. Most of them up here, it just tastes like squirrel. If you put enough seasoning on it, you can make it taste like anything you want it to taste like."

Cleveland has a chance to start at left guard as a rookie. He will compete against Ben Powers, Patrick Mekari and Ben Bredeson this offseason and in training camp.

At his pro day in March, the massive Cleveland ran the 40-yard dash in an impressive 4.97 seconds, which led one reporter to ask him if it was the result of his "squirrel diet."

On Friday, Cleveland acknowledged that he didn't understand nutrition until college. The 6-foot-6 Cleveland now weighs 343 pounds.

"Heck, I can remember back in high school on Tuesday nights after practice, we'd have Little Caesars pizzas," Cleveland said. "I would sit down and eat two whole pizzas before I would go to bed."

Former NFL athlete Chef Derrell Smith shines in new Tastemade series ‘Mad Good Food’

Derrell Smith is exactly where he needs to be – and he knows it.

The former NFL athlete and current chef stars in the new Tastemade series Mad Good Food, where he entertains and informs his audience while creating incredible meals full of culture and flavor. Each week, Smith creates a meal that could feed a number of people. He then shows his audience how to make two distinct meals for one using the remains of the original dish. Single viewers will be able to enjoy quality dinners for one, rather than eating the same leftovers over and over again.

Mad Good Food is cool because it’s relevant,” Smith said. “Hopefully we get out of this pandemic and people will be able to cook for groups. They’ll be able to cook for loved ones, and they’ll be able to cook for friends coming over. So we take a large meal for families and then we take the particles from that recipe and make two solo meals based on those same ingredients.”

Smith’s passion for food is palpable through the screen, and he openly discusses the comfort and healing he has found, and continues to find, in the kitchen.

In 2012, the former linebacker suffered a serious neck injury that ended his career in the NFL. Smith saw the major life change as an opportunity to chase his longtime dream of being a chef, inspired by his family and his love for food.

“Growing up, food was a healer,” Smith said. “I was infused with that love and that intention throughout time spent with my grandma and with my family. This show is important because now I get to spread that on a larger scale.”

Photo courtesy of Tastemade

After retiring from the NFL, Smith experimented with many recipes – one of which being his now iconic meatball – while working an advertising job in New York. In 2016, he entered the Brooklyn Meatball Takedown, a meatball cooking competition, and won. Later that year, he went on to create 99EATS, LLC , a virtual culinary brand. He ran a pop-up stand for the company on the weekends at Smorgasburg , America’s largest weekly open-air food market, located in Brooklyn.

In January of 2019, Smith created Amazeballs as a vessel of 99EATS. The brand pays homage to his grandmothers through its logo and through its “OG Sauce” (Original Grandma Sauce.)

Smith doesn’t take this platform for granted. Now located in Los Angeles, the future is bright for his career as a TV personality as well as a chef. Whether through a TV screen, in teaching demo cooking classes for WIC Program recipients, or simply by cooking delicious meals at home for his loved ones, Smith remains dedicated to spreading Love through food via his personal stories and joyful energy.

“At the end of the day, I get to teach people something that they can lead with and apply in their own kitchens and their own lifestyles,” Smith said. “I’m glad that Tastemade recognized this opportunity and I’m glad that we were able to make something that is dope and different…I’m very proud of this show.”

NFL rookie explains how he started eating squirrels

Baltimore Ravens rookie guard Ben Cleveland eats squirrels, occasionally.

He explained to reporters on Friday that he doesn't so much have a squirrel diet as much as he has squirrels stored in his freezer to eat.

"I don't know if it was a specific diet. It's more one of those things where you eat what you've got in the freezer from the fall," Cleveland said. "Had a few squirrels freeze-dried in there. Get a little hungry, ain't got no deer meat left, fry you up a squirrel or two, and just go eat that."

Cleveland, who was drafted in the third round out of Georgia, recently discussed this on the Ravens' "The Lounge" podcast, explaining that one day, as a kid, he was bored and hungry and there wasn't food in the house. He saw two squirrels in a pine tree, shot his .22, collected them, cooked them, and ate them.

"I went out there and got the squirrels," Cleveland said. "Threw 'em in some hot grease, made me some frozen biscuits, and let 'em ride."

Cleveland said it's hard to describe how they taste other than saying they taste like squirrels. He said with enough seasoning, they could taste like anything.

When one of the hosts of the podcast asked if squirrels taste nutty, Cleveland said not especially, though some southern squirrels do.

"Some squirrels in south Georgia, they'll taste a little bit more nutty," Cleveland said. "Up here, our acorns and stuff aren't really as strong as the ones down south. Most of them up here, it just tastes like squirrel."

He also added a word of caution for prospective squirrel-eaters: "Very tricky animals to cook. They've got really fine hairs on them, so it's really hard to get all the hairs off them when you skin them. It's very tricky to get that one figured out."

Cleveland grew up in the small town of Toccoa in northern Georgia. He said on the podcast that he grew up hunting and finds peace being in the woods now.

"That was how we provided," Cleveland said. "Neither one of my parents ever had the most outstanding, money-making jobs. Trips to the grocery store got expensive, but whenever you don't have to sit there and pay for meat and you can just eat deer meat you got processed in the freezer, you can save a lot of money doing that."

He added: "The older I've gotten the more I've realized, yeah, it's still about providing for your family, but that's more kind of your unwind time. That's where I go and just get away from everything."

From cheese to tomatoes, most foods you might store in the fridge and then eat “raw” taste vastly better if removed early and left to come to room temperature, smoked salmon being a prime example.

Removing that fridge chill liberates a food’s volatile flavour and aroma compounds, helps activate the taste receptor TRPM5, and triggers other positive connections between palate, brain and nasal cavity that science is yet to unravel. Intuitively, who wants an incongruous clash of hot creamy scrambled eggs and jarringly cold smoked salmon on the same plate? Let the smoked salmon warm on the kitchen counter and the eggs cool a little before serving, and your dish will achieve a happy median (range of temperatures).


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