Laila Ali, 40, has the same passion and drive as her late, “greatest” father, Muhammad Ali. She is a cookbook author (Food for Life), blogger (LailaAliLifestyle.com), podcast host (Laila Ali Lifestyle on Podcast One), wife of an ex-NFL player (Curtis Conway) and mother of two (Curtis Jr., 9, and Sydney, 7). We caught up with the boxer-turned-businesswoman to discuss food and her father’s favorite burger.
What can people do to improve their diet?
Stop eating so much processed food. Whether it's fast food out of a drive thru or something you can get at a gas station. You don't want to buy your food where you buy your gas. It's not even food. You don't really have to think about the calories quite as much when you're eating food that your body can actually process. Vegetables and fruits and whole grains and protein. Drinking more water. Back to the basics, really.
What do you like to cook for your family?
I keep it simple with my family because my kids, they're young and they're very picky. I do turkey tacos a lot and I'll hide veggies into the foods that I make. For example, I'll take four zucchini, peel off the green skin, put them in the food processor, so they're broken down. And then, I'll sauté them with ground turkey, so they get all those vegetables. It doesn't change the flavor at all. It goes undetected.
Did your dad cook?
No. He definitely didn't do that. Growing up with my dad, we had a cook, where I lived with my father. I had a cook, and had amazing food, but when my parents divorced, I had to divorce the cook. That's why I started cooking myself. I've been cooking since I was 10 years old.
The Greatest of All Time Burger
“Some of my best memories are from summers spent with my dad,” Laila says. “‘Don’t you just want a burger and an ice-cold Coke?’ he’d slyly ask — and we’d be off to the local burger joint, where they knew his order without having to ask. A burger with mustard, onion, and American cheese was his all-time greatest.”
1 ½ lb ground beef
1 ½ Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp onion powder
1 ½ tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 hamburger buns, toasted
Onion, sliced into rounds
• Preheat grill to high, or skillet over medium-high.
• Place beef in large bowl, add Worcestershire sauce and onion powder, and mix with your hands until ingredients are combined.
• Divide beef into four equal portions. Form ¾-inch patties. Press down in center of each patty to make a ¼-inch-deep indention.
• Season patties well on both sides with salt and pepper to taste.
• Place on grill or pan indented-side up and cook on each side for about four minutes for medium. Add cheese to second side after flipping.
• Transfer burgers to plate. Let rest for five minutes.
• Put burgers on buns. Add your favorite toppings.
Related: 150+ Ground Beef Recipes