Tom Brady, 40, is the greatest quarterback in football history, according to the NFL, sports bloggers, and this New England-bred sports fan. The five-time Super Bowl champ didn’t reach peak condition at an age when most players have already retired by eating chips and dip.
Brady owes his longevity to an intense diet and workout plan, which the GOAT (“greatest of all time“) touts in his new book “The TB12 Method.” Vegetables make up 80% of what he and his supermodel-wife Gisele Bündchen eat, along with whole grains, nuts, and lean meats.
In 2016, Purple Carrot, a meal-kit delivery service that serves 100% plant-based foods for a vegan diet, partnered with Brady to bring meals based on the way he eats to customers. Using the guidelines laid out in his book, TB12 Performance Meals deliver aim to “help athletes and active individuals stay at their peak” — just like the GOAT. (Though Brady is not a vegan.)
For $US78 a week, subscribers receive three meals with two servings of each.
I recently tried the TB12 Performance Meals for two weeks. Here’s what it was like.
My first delivery from Purple Carrot and TB12 came with its own locker-room pep talk plastered on the side of the box.
'What we get out of our bodies is a direct result of what we put in. Food is your fuel, and we believe that food can help you achieve and sustain your peak performance,' the box read.
I was feeling jazzed. I'm a carnivore, but I've been wanting to cut down on my meat consumption for animal welfare-related reasons. This seemed like the perfect opportunity.
While Brady eats lean red meat and chicken in limited quantities, Purple Carrot offers only vegetarian and vegan meals. Andy Levitt, CEO and founder of Purple Carrot, hopes that the partnership with the football player turns more everyday consumers on to plant-based diets.
'Tom has shown the world what is possible by being a part-time plant-based eater,' Levitt said.
I was about to find out.
For $78 a week, subscribers receive three meals with two servings of each. Ingredients for each meal were bagged separately, which made it easier to prep for cooking later.
Each recipe includes an ingredients list, step-by-step instructions, and photos of the meal prep. Nearly all the ingredients needed were included, except for salt, pepper, and oil.
I decided to start with the tofu rancheros, because it sounded like something my super-carnivorous boyfriend would still eat. The meal had a cook time of 30 minutes.
The ingredients were portioned into small containers with the quantity the recipe called for, which saved time. But I was unprepared for the sheer number of steps involved.
By step three, I had rinsed and dried my produce and tofu; preheated the oven; peeled and diced a red onion; chopped the roasted red pepper; halved the cherry tomatoes and grapes; and warmed the corn tortillas in the oven. I had already killed 20 minutes, and it was unlikely I would finish in another 10. The 30-minute cook time started to seem unrealistic.
It was my first time ever cooking with tofu, and it wasn't as weird as I thought it would be. My boyfriend crumbled the tofu over a skillet, and it came apart like a hard cheese.
The mango wasn't nearly ripe enough to serve in the coconut fruit salad. A side of halved grapes tossed with freshly toasted coconut and lime juice would have to do.
I toasted my own shredded coconut. The meal was shaping up to be quite an effort.
Voilà! The tofu rancheros weren't as pretty as the tacos pictured on the recipe. But they were hearty and flavorful. Taco seasoning and turmeric enlivened the plain tofu.
A couple days later, I set out to make Thai coconut rice bowls. The recipe described classic Thai flavours of mint, cilantro, and creamy coconut piled on top of fluffy jasmine rice.
I whipped up a chutney made with cucumber, Thai chilli, mint, cilantro, rice vinegar, and lime juice. I enjoyed trying something new, but again, it was more work than I was used to.
The rice bowls came together beautifully, with charred rainbow carrots and red cabbage adding a crunchy texture to the creamy coconut-infused rice. The colours were stunning.
Unfortunately, I didn't have time to cook all three meals that first week. The meals were taking at least an hour to prepare, and I struggled to find the energy on a weeknight.
The last meal was the most unusual -- romanesco and hazelnut-and-hemp-seed crumble served on a bed of beet noodles. I threw out the ingredients after they started to rot.
The Japanese yam fritters dish included fried pancakes (like a classic latke) seasoned with the herbal flavours of a tabbouleh. I grated the yams and squeezed out the excess liquid.
Then I prepared the Greek tabbouleh. The whole grain millet took at least a half hour to cook, and I continuously added water so it wouldn't burn. I grew hungrier.
The recipe called for a lemon yogurt that combined a bunch of remaining ingredients. I used the ingredients without measuring them and wound up with an over-seasoned soup.
That's when things really started to go south. My Japanese yam mixture wasn't wet enough to form fritters, and they fell apart as soon as I tried to flip them with a spatula.
In my mind, it was a disaster. I already spent 45 minutes getting the meal together, and now my latkes turned to a potato scramble. I missed my easy stovetop mac and cheese.
Still, the fritters had all the bright, herbal flavours of Greek cuisine, and the crusty bits added a nice texture. I had a second helping of the tabbouleh.
I dreaded preparing another meal. The recipes were just too demanding for a week night. I waited until lunchtime on a Saturday and attempted the simple green curry.
My favourite part of the preparation was building the curry from coconut milk, green curry paste, tamari, turbinado sugar, and kaffir lime leaves. It was out of my comfort zone.
Smoky curry served with steamed vegetables and jasmine rice was a slam dunk in my book. This is probably the only meal I made that I would do again on my own.
During my two weeks of eating TB12 Performance Meals, I learned that I do not have what it takes to cook like Brady. Making the meals was more exhausting than enjoyable.
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