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Chef Allen Campbell, widely recognized as Tom Brady’s former personal chef from 2013 to 2016, is known for prioritizing whole foods that are anti-inflammatory and support a healthy gut. “My personal philosophy is that foods are meant to be eaten unrefined,” Campbell tells Men’s Health. “That’s why Tom and I aligned so well. We should look at the food we eat as part of a complete ecosystem.”
Campbell acknowledges that he and Brady were extreme in developing Brady’s notoriously strict diet, which did away with anything considered “inflammatory,” including nightshades, but that was what the pair decided was best for Brady and his performance goals. Since then, Brady has loosened up a bit. He previously told Men’s Health that if he’s craving bacon, he’ll have a piece. Or if he wants pizza, he’ll order the best pizza. “We’re humans, here for one life,” he said.
In January 2020, Campbell launched his own venture called AC Kitchen—an organic, small-batch meal delivery service that provides a variety of menus for its health-forward customers. Through his meal planning and nutrition consulting services (he is not a registered dietitian), Campbell creates plans that are catered to individual needs and goals.
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“Food has to taste good,” he says. “I’m from a lower middle-class suburb in Boston. You can’t put a bowl of kale in front of someone here. They wouldn’t eat it. It has to be delicious and familiar and nostalgic.”
If you’re looking to add some new meals to your rotation this year, Campbell created seven recipes exclusively for Men’s Health, below, that put anti-inflammatory and gut-friendly foods first. Bon appétit!
Poached cod, roasted fennel, butternut mashed spiced collards
“I always cook with what’s in season,” Campbell says. “Wild cod is easily accessible in New England at a good price point.” Plus, it’s high in protein. Campbell notes that the turmeric can help reduce inflammation, and the lemon helps bring out the iron in the collard greens.
- ½ cup fennel, chopped
- 1 ½ cup butternut, peeled, chopped
- 1 cup collards greens, sliced thin
- Pinch turmeric, paprika, cayenne
- 6 oz poached cod
- Lemon wedge
Roast fennel and butternut at 350 degrees until golden brown and softened. Mash with evoo and season with salt. Wilt collards and season with turmeric, paprika, cayenne, salt, and freshly-ground black pepper. Serve with poached cod and squeeze of lemon.
Sesame orange tempeh bowl, bok choy, broccoli, seared avocado, pickled radish
Tempeh is a plant-based protein that provides vitamin B and complete protein, making it one of the few plant proteins that does, according to Campbell. Oranges are a popular winter citrus, and bok choy and broccoli are high-fiber, leafy vegetables. Campbell says the pickled radish helps promote gut health, and the avocado adds creamy, healthy fat.
- 4 oz tempeh, diced medium
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 2 tbsp tamari
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp ginger, grated
- 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
- ½ tsp toasted sesame oil
- ½ tsp orange zest
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 1 cup bok choy, sliced
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- ½ avocado, seared
- 2 tbsp pickled or fermented radish
Add tempeh to roasting pan with vegetable broth, tamari, garlic, and ginger. Roast at 375 degrees for 40 minutes until vegetable broth is almost dry. Fold together with sesame seeds, toasted sesame oil, and orange zest. Add to a bowl of brown rice with steamed bok choy, broccoli, seared avocado, and pickled radish.
Banana and almond yogurt parfait, vanilla bean, toasted almonds
Breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day: It helps your body wake up and gives you the fuel you need to start moving. Campbell notes that this quick and simple parfait is perfect for when you are rushing in the morning. You can also make it the night before for a grab ‘n go breakfast. The almond yogurt provides that morning protein and the bananas are an excellent source of carbs.
- 6 oz almond or nut-based yogurt
- 1 tsp raw honey
- ½ tsp vanilla bean, scraped
- 1 medium banana, sliced
- 2 tbsp toasted almonds
Whisk vanilla bean into almond yogurt with a teaspoon of raw honey. Add sliced banana and toasted almonds.
Black bean taco bowl, marinated red cabbage slaw, avocado, lime
Campbell likes to create meals that elicit feelings of nostalgia, which is why this taco bowl is a go-to favorite. “Those who may not be open to a plant-based diet might be more open to this dish because it reminds them of a traditional taco bowl,” Campbell explains. Black beans are one of the best beans you can eat, thanks to their plant-based protein and versatility with spices. The jicama is a crunchy, hydrating veggie that adds a foodie twist to this dish.
- 1 cup cooked black beans with 3 tbsp cooking liquid
- ¼ tsp chipotle powder
- ¼ tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp paprika
- Pinch cayenne powder
- Salt to taste
- ½ cup cabbage, shaved thin
- ¼ cup radish, sliced thin
- ¼ cup carrot, sliced thin
- ¼ cup jicama, sliced thin
- ½ avocado
- Lime wedge
Fold cooked black beans together with chipotle, cumin, paprika, cayenne, and salt. Add thinly-shaved cabbage, radish, carrot, and jicama to a bowl. Add spiced black beans, avocado, and squeeze lime.
Cauliflower and quinoa tabouli, roasted beets, pickled red onion vinaigrette
Campbell worked with two-dozen Major League Baseball players to develop a cookbook, The Game of Eating Smart: Nourishing Recipes for Peak Performance Inspired by MLB Superstars, for which cauliflower was a home run. The olive oil and lemon juice provides anti-inflammatory benefits, and the red onion vinaigrette is good for gut health.
- 1 cup cauliflower rice, steamed
- ½ cup parsley, chopped
- 2 tbsp evoo
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp garlic, minced
- ½ cup roasted beets
- 2 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds
- 3 tbsp pickled red onion vinaigrette
Fold together steamed cauliflower rice with lots of chopped parsley, evoo, lemon juice, and garlic. Add roasted beets and pumpkin seeds. Drizzle pickled red onion vinaigrette.
Lamb meatballs, roasted squash, brussels sprouts, cumin apple cider vinaigrette
Since chicken is a go-to meat option (it’s versatile and inexpensive), Campbell understands that people can get bored of it. Lamb meatballs help folks break out of that chicken rut. He uses mint any time he serves lamb. The delicata squash is one of Campbell’s favorite squashes; it cooks quickly while having great taste and texture.
- 5 oz ground lamb
- ½ egg, beaten
- 2 tbsp almond flour
- 2 tbsp caramelized onion, minced
- 2 tbsp mint, sliced thin
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- Pinch chili flakes
- ½ cup delicata squash, sliced
- ½ cup acorn squash, sliced
- 1 cup Brussel’s sprouts, quartered
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- ¼ tsp ground cumin
In a mixing bowl, combine lamb, egg, almond flour, onion, mint, salt, pepper, and chili flakes. Shape into 1 oz meatballs. Sear meatballs with coconut oil in an iron steel pan until golden brown and slightly pink in the middle. Roast delicata or acorn squash until softened and add brussels sprouts until golden brown. Whisk apple cider vinegar with extra virgin olive oil and toasted cumin seed powder, and drizzle.
Mango lime smoothie, toasted coconut
Campbell and Brady met in Miami many years ago, and this Miami-inspired smoothie will bring the beach to you in the middle of winter. “These are my favorite tropical flavors,” Campbell says. The hemp chia seeds provide protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which balances overconsumption of omega-6 fatty acids.
- 10 oz fresh coconut milk
- 1 cup ripe mango, chunks
- ½ medium banana
- 1 tbsp hemp hearts
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tbsp flax seeds
- 1 tsp maca powder
- ½ lime, juice and zest
- 2 tbsp toasted coconut
Blend mango with green banana, hemp hearts, chia seeds, flax seeds, maca powder, and fresh coconut milk for 20 seconds until smooth. Top with toasted coconut.
Heather is the former food and nutrition editor for Runner’s World, the author of The Runner’s World Vegetarian Cookbook, and a seven-time marathoner with a best of 3:31—but she is most proud of her 1:32 half, 19:44 5K, and 5:33 mile. Her work has been published in The Boston Globe, Popular Mechanics, The Wall Street Journal Buy Side, Cooking Light, CNN, Glamour, The Associated Press, and Livestrong.com.