Food for Life, by Laila Ali (St. Martin’s Press, New York, N.Y., 2017, 312 pages).
Book Review by Dennis Moore
July 8, 2018 (San Diego) - Passionate health advocate, cook, television personality, and four-time undefeated boxing world champion Laila Ali’s first cookbook is an idea-rich guide for happy dinners (and breakfasts and lunches) at home.
Ali believes that food can be good for you and taste terrific. You’ll love her hearty, simple, satisfying real-life recipes, including:
- Oven-Fried Chicken
- Spaghetti for Breakfast
- The Greatest of All Time Burger (her father Muhammad’s favorite)
- Cheesy Cauliflower Pizza
- Sweet-and-Salty Sweet Potato Salad
- Heavenly Lemon Yogurt Cake
- Not Your Mama’s Sweet Potato Pie
With sections on 30-Minute Meals, Make-Ahead Dishes, and Easy Kid-Pleasing Foods, Food for Life offers 100-plus recipes for everyone you need to feed and every occasion. Ali has competed as a cook on television, but she also prepares meals for her family in real life. Her tested tricks and trademark “swap outs” will give everything you make a little extra sass!
Laila Ali is the host of the Emmy Award winning television show Home Made Simple and founder of the Laila Ali lifestyle brand. The daughter of Muhammad Ali, Laila herself is a four-time undefeated boxing world champion. A cooking enthusiast, Laila has appeared on the Food Network’s celebrity edition of Chopped, hosted FYI’s Late Nite Chef Fight, and competed on Celebrity Apprentice, which featured her cooking. Laila lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Curtis Conway, and their two children.
Having recently met and talked with the author at a cooking event showcasing her book Food for Life, at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at USC, I gained invaluable insight into this remarkable woman and cooking enthusiast. While talking with her and taking a number of pictures together, I told her of the fact that her father used to get his hair cut at Lou’s Barber Shop in Chicago many years ago before she was born, where my sister Doreen was also a barber.
Perhaps what resonated with me most about Ali’s Food for Life is this very profound statement in her book: “Many of today’s illnesses, in particular heart disease and diabetes, have roots in lifestyle choices, and they can also be alleviated by lifestyle choices. And there’s nothing more powerful than choosing to eat clean and healthy food.” After reading this book I am even more committed to eating the right foods, especially considering that my doctor has advised me to.
Another passage in this book that resonates with me is Ali stating: “God put perfect foods on this planet to give our bodies everything we need to be healthy and to heal ourselves when we get sick. But ever since we started tampering with our food, what we consume has been making us sick.”
She further states that: “Major diseases, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer, are on the rise, and we have the highest infant mortality and lowest life expectancy rates of all the developed nations. More than a third of American adults are obese – and that jumps to 50 percent of African Americans and more than 40 percent of Latinos.”
When I see the picture of the Louisiana-Style Jambalaya, and read the recipe for it in Ali’s book, it looks and sounds so scrumptious. It makes me want to run over to Laila’s home and beg her to cook it for me, as we live in the general vicinity out here in Los Angeles! But to be realistic, I am just going to cook it myself, or get someone else to do it.
Her Banana Cake with Macadamias and Vanilla Whipped Cream, pictured in Food for Life, along with the recipe, is to die for!
And don’t get me started on Laila’s “Chard, Cheddar, and Sausage Breakfast Casserole” pictured in this book! Just thinking about it gets my taste buds started. The beauty of all this is that these meals are actually healthy for you.
Reading Food for Life made me curious as to how it all started for the author. She states: “I was always an independent person, and so at the early age of nine, I decided to get in the kitchen and teach myself to cook. My first recipes were as simple as spaghetti and scrambled eggs, but by trial and error, over time I expanded my repertoire to include more complex dishes such as seafood gumbo and stewed chicken and gravy, which to this day are favorites among my friends and family.”
A number of Hollywood and entertainment personalities have weighed in on this delectable book, such as LL Cool J, who states: “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!”
Patti LaBelle, author of New York Times bestseller LaBelle Cuisine, states: “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!”
This is a book that I heartily recommend!
Dennis Moore has been the Associate Editor of the East County Magazine and he is the book review editor of SDWriteway, an online newsletter for writers in San Diego that has partnered with the East County Magazine. Mr. Moore can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter at: @DennisMoore8.