First published Winter 2018


 

Rugby star Haskell has teamed up with sports performance chef Omar Meziane (who kept the England football team fed during the World Cup) to create a book packed with recipes to boost performance and aid recovery. We found out what took him from the field and into the kitchen

 

In your rugby career, what golden rules have you learnt about nutrition?

“Eat for performance not appearance. Hydration is massively important. Carbs are NOT the enemy.” 

 

How did playing with the Ricoh Black Rams in Japan influence your outlook on both training and nutrition?

“I was 99 per cent self-managing, lived on my own, and although food was supplied at the training ground, portion was an issue, as they were quite small — so I had to have lots of mini plates and always go up for thirds and fourths. So I ended up cooking a lot for myself, which made me realise the importance of nutrition for my training. 

“Cooking for myself did prove an initial problem, as I didn’t know my way around Japanese supermarkets and couldn’t find any protein, veg etc. — I thought maybe they just don’t eat chicken!  For the first week or so all I ate was rice until I finally managed to ask where the food was and they pointed me to a small door which led downstairs where, luckily, there was enough chicken to feed a rugby team, and plenty more on top of that. So I suppose one thing I learnt was learn the art of foreign supermarket shopping and if you don’t ask you don’t eat!”

 

What led you to create a cookbook?

“After the reception my first two books received I realised that lots of people already had great exercise and training plans but were struggling to create delicious and nutritious meals. Often the recipes you come across online for healthy eating can do you more harm than good and end up being needlessly complicated and expensive.

“I wanted to show how you can eat amazing delicious food that’s really simple and still get the results you want and hopefully Omar and I have done that. My personal favourites in the book are healthy sausage sandwich, and honey nuts!” 

 

What can rugby players, in particular, learn from the book?

“I hope that it will help lots of players understand how to eat to perform. I think the book demonstrates that you don’t have to carb-load to get the results you want, and that you can still get the calories you need through eating great, healthy dishes — basically it’s a win-win!”

 


 

TOMATO & BUTTER BEAN SOUP WITH ROASTED COD

Serves 2  | Prep time: 5 mins | Cook time: 40 mins

Ingredients

  • 2 x 175 g cod fillets 
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 small carrot, chopped 
  • 1 stick celery, chopped 
  • 1 small onion, chopped 
  • 1 kg tomatoes, chopped 
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped 
  • 2 tsp tomato purée 
  • 1 tsp sugar 
  • 1 litre water 
  • 100 g tinned butter beans

Method

Preheat oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. 

First make the tomato soup. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a high heat. Add the carrot, celery and onion to the pan and cook for 2-3 mins without colouring. Add the tomatoes and garlic and cook for another 5 mins. Add the tomato purée and sugar, and season with salt and pepper. Pour over the water, bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer. Allow to cook for 25 mins before removing from the heat. 

Allow the soup to cool for 10-15 mins before blending until smooth in a food processor. Check the seasoning and then add the butter beans. Pour the soup back into the saucepan and warm over a low heat. 

Place the cod fillets on a roasting tray and season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 10 mins or until cooked through. 

Pour the soup into two bowls, place a fillet of cod into each bowl and serve.

 

HOMEMADE BEEF SAUSAGE SANDWICH

Serves 2 | Prep time: 10 mins | Cook time: 20 mins

Ingredients

  • 300 g minced beef
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2-3 knobs of butter
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 8 button mushrooms, roughly sliced
  • 4 slices sourdough bread
  • 50 g smoked Cheddar, sliced

Method

Preheat your oven to 180C/350F/gas 4.

In a mixing bowl combine the minced beef and cumin and season with salt and pepper. Shape into 6 small sausages and chill in the fridge for 30 mins.

Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion to the pan and cook for 5 mins. Next add the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and cook for a further 5 mins, stirring continuously. Set the pan aside and keep warm.

Place the sausages on a roasting tray and bake in the oven for 10 mins or until cooked through. Allow to rest for 5 mins.

Toast the sourdough bread. Slice the sausages lengthways and divide between 2 slices of the toast.

Top the sausage with the sliced Cheddar. Top the Cheddar with the mushrooms and onion. Top with the remaining slices of toast and serve.

 


Cooking for Fitness by James Haskell and Omar Meziane is published by James Haskell Health & Fitness. £19.95

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