Hernan Rodriguez of Hernan Photography
A humble legend with a taste for simply cooked meals, Evander Holyfield is the only heavyweight boxer to win the world heavyweight championship five times. The latest was on April 10, 2010, when "The Real Deal" beat Francois Botha to take the World Boxing Federation crown, nearly 26 years after his first professional bout.
From the time Holyfield was 21, he said he could eat any way he wanted, but the lesson learned from his modest start was that people tend to pay more to eat in restaurants, which he finds can be unhealthy.
“As an adult, you realize people make it seem like it’s better to eat out, when at home you can make sure all the utensils are nice, and you know who’s cooking the food, more so than somebody who doesn’t care,” Holyfield said.
With nothing more than his oven, Evander Holyfield, cooks his favorite meal at home: broiled steak.
“I’m a meat eater -- beef, lamb, pork seafood, fish, chicken -- because I stay fuller with protein than with carbohydrates. I eat red meat twice a week,” said Holyfield, 50, who runs three times a week and squats 500 pounds.
Although Holyfield has no preference for conventionally-raised or pasture-raised beef, his choice cut is a New York strip steak. From the tender short loin of the cow, the “New Yorker,” as Holyfield calls it, has a wide band of fat around its edge, excellent for searing with direct heat on an open flame. However, Holyfield cranks the oven dial to broil. He said that broiling steak makes the fat melt and keeps it moist.
His fists are known meat tenderizers, but for this one-ingredient dish, Holyfield forgoes using tools that would break up connective tissue, making the meat’s texture velvety. He also shuns spices or rubs on the meat before cooking it -- for 45 minutes. When the steak is ready to eat, Holyfield adds his specialty Real Deal BBQ Sauce, available online and in select grocery stores.
“If your goal is losing weight and building muscle, meat is what you should eat be eating.”
What’s so Great About a Plain Steak?
“I eat to live; some people get caught up in the decoration,” said Holyfield. For him, the most important thing about a meal, is what the food can do for you and how it powers you. Holyfield said that eating steak can keep him full for up to six hours and also help him maintain muscle mass. And that makes sense. According to “Protein, weight management, and satiety,” a 2008 paper published in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," protein tends to provide more satiety than carbohydrates, and can help with the retention of lean muscle mass. “If your goal is losing weight and building muscle, meat is what you should eat be eating,” said Holyfield.
Evander Holyfield's Recipe for Broiled New York Strip Steak
Serves 3 people -- or 1 if you are Evander Holyfield
12-ounce New York strip steak
- Set oven rack 8 inches from broiler
- Preheat oven to broil
- Place steak in pan and cook for 45 minutes. For rare steak, turn steak with tongs every 3 minutes, cooking for a total of 12 minutes.
- Remove beef from oven; let it rest 5 minutes as steak continues to cook once taken out of the oven. This method allows juices from center to flow throughout; then add Real Deal BBQ Sauce in mild or hot
- Serve with a tossed greens salad and a glass of red wine
What Makes It a Healthy Meal?
Nicole Fetterly, a Vancouver-based registered dietitian, said Holyfield smartly limits eating red meat to two times per week. “Limiting consumption reduces the risks associated with overconsumption, such as cardiovascular disease and colon cancer,” said Fetterly.
Broiling can be a good cooking method as long as meat doesn’t get charred, as charring can cause the formation of carcinogens. A great way to avoid charring is using marinades made with lemon or vinegar, because they help change the acidity of the meat and prevent some of the carcinogens from sticking. If you opt for a store-bought marinade, Fetterly said to pay close attention to the ingredients and nutritional values, as some are high in sodium or contain preservatives and artificial flavors. To avoid them, she recommended making your own marinade from fresh ingredients.
“It's lovely that Evander eats his steak with a large green salad,” Fetterly said. “The greens should make up half of his plate, and then the meal needs a high-fiber whole grain, which will help reduce the amount of cholesterol absorbed and provide energy to the body so the protein isn't used for energy -- but instead for muscle repletion and enzymatic processes.”
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Based in Toronto, Monique Savin has been a journalist since 2005. As a columnist and multimedia producer, she has worked with national newspapers such as "The Globe and Mail" and various magazines.
Hernan Rodriguez of Hernan Photography