As a world-class athlete, Novak Djokovic is a finely honed machine. Does that include wine?
At a recent wine-tasting evening in New York where he was the guest of honor, the answer was no. Djokovic, who is in New York City for the next two weeks to defend his world No. 1 tennis title at the U.S. Open, abstained from the newJacob’s Creek Two Lands varietals at the event — even while cooking a personal recipe of pasta and shrimp.
Obviously, he’s made of tougher stuff than the rest of us.
Two other things he doesn’t put on his table: gluten and dairy.
Growing up in Serbia, Djokovic worked as a waiter and dishwasher in his family’s Italian-influenced restaurant — he describes the menu as “a lot of pizzas.” His homeland is also famous for its pancakes, which he says meant “wheat was a part of my everyday life — we have bakeries around every corner.”
Being surrounded by gluten took its toll, and he gave it up along with dairy five years ago. “I have a strong kind of sensitivity to gluten because of overconsumption of it,” he says.
That eased once he stopped constantly eating it, and Djokovic can now indulge in the necessary evil/blessing of carbo-loading on pasta and rice before tournaments. (Dairy, however, is still off the menu.)
He also sticks to proteins that are on the lighter side. “I try to have as little animal food as possible,” he says, preferring to get his fuel from plant-based sources like mushrooms, whey, tofu and chickpeas. When he does eat meat, it’s chicken, fish and turkey.
And don’t make the food spicy, otherwise “you would see me more off the court than on the court.”
Though Djokovic admits he leaves meal prep to professionals these days, he cooks with the same laid-back, playful attitude — talking to the ingredients and, fun fact, getting squeamish about head-on shrimp — as he plays. And that’s an example even those of us without any talent at tennis can use to live healthier.
Ingredients for the salad:
• 1 cup quinoa
• 2 cups boiling water
• ¾ cup hazelnuts
• 1 small cucumber
• 1 pomegranate
• Small handful of fresh coriander
Ingredients for the dressing:
• 1 lime
• 3 tbsp. olive oil
• 2 tbsp. sesame oil
Optional ingredients for those not sticking to a professional tennis player’s diet:
• 1 tbsp. tahini
1.Rinse quinoa well under running water. Place in a pan with the boiling water and a little salt. Bring to a boil, then place the lid on the pan and let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until all the water has been evaporated and the quinoa is fluffy.
2.While the quinoa cooks, placethe hazelnuts on a baking tray and roast them for 10 minutes in a 350-degree oven
3.Slice the cucumber lengthwise into quarters, then eighths. Remove the seeds, then continue slicing into thin pieces.
4.Remove the seeds from the pomegranate. Squeeze all the juice into a separate bowl to be added to the dressing.
5.Finely chop the coriander. Mix the dressing together in a small bowl. Once the quinoa has cooked and cooled, place it in a bowl with the hazelnuts, pomegranate, coriander and cucumber, pour on the dressing and mix, adding salt and pepper to taste.