Photography by Matt Armendariz /// From Food for Life by Laila Ali. Copyright © 2018 by the author and reprinted by permission of St Martin’s Press

She’s undefeated in the ring and apparently, in the kitchen too.

Briana Riddock
January 29, 2018

The Ali name is synonymous with boxing greatness, and four-time undefeated boxing champion Laila Ali has lived up to the legacy and now has transitioned into a lifestyle guru and cookbook author. Food for Life: Delicious & Healthy Comfort Food from My Table to Yours! is Ali’s debut cookbook that includes over 100 recipes focusing on using wholesome ingredients and making healthy cooking approachable. And to many people’s surprise, Ali is not new to cooking; she is true to cooking.       

Ali recently appeared on New York’s The Breakfast Club radio show to chat about her days as a fighter, life as Muhammad Ali’s daughter, and her passion for cooking. In the interview, she revealed that she loved to cook before she even knew she wanted to step into the ring. Once she retired from boxing, she stepped back into the kitchen and began to perfect family recipes like her seafood gumbo.  

Photography by Matt Armendariz /// From Food for Life by Laila Ali. Copyright © 2018 by the author and reprinted by permission of St Martin’s Press

Ali has appeared on Food Network’s Chopped and is currently the host of Home Made Simple, which airs on the OWN Network, where she helps families solve decor and lifestyle struggles. She offers her advice on healthy living and demonstrates easy recipes for the families to recreate.     

In her cookbook, Ali starts with a green powder smoothie recipe—a powerful beverage she created by transforming a tasteless protein shake she consumed during her boxing days into a spirulina and spinach packed elixir. Throughout the entire book, Ali recommends easy ingredient swaps and simple ways to level-up the recipes. And she is great about pointing out small changes, such as purchasing BPA-free cans of tomatoes for her Tomato and Roasted Garlic Cream Soup, that readers can feel majorly good about. 

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For me, one of the standout recipes in Food for Life is her Quinoa and Parmesan-Dusted Shrimp with Roasted Garlic Mayo. Ali passes on coating the shrimp in all-purpose flour and instead opts for more nutrient-dense quinoa flour. Don’t have quinoa flour? Ali notes that you make it yourself by simply grinding whole dry quinoa in a spice grinder. Additionally, she cuts the fat (but keeps the crunch) by baking the shrimp in the oven at a high temperature rather than frying it to achieve a crispy crust.        

Photography by Matt Armendariz /// From Food for Life by Laila Ali. Copyright © 2018 by the author and reprinted by permission of St Martin’s Press

Jumping to the back of the book, you will find classic desserts that are known for their decadence, but Ali reinvents them with a more wholesome touch. She turned her Sock-it-to-Me Honey Cake into a gluten-free treat that is filled with a cinnamon-pecan mixture and topped with a chocolate drizzle. Ali mentions that during her boxing career she would have to avoid sweets due to training and could only indulge in her cravings after her fights, so she would have this spiced cake waiting for her in the dressing room after declaring a victory. In other words, this is dessert of champions.    

Photography by Matt Armendariz /// From Food for Life by Laila Ali. Copyright © 2018 by the author and reprinted by permission of St Martin’s Press

Laila Ali’s Food for Life: Delicious & Healthy Comfort Food from My Table to Yours! Is available now and can be found at your favorite bookstores and online retailers.

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