When you picture Tom Daley, he’s probably in pair of Speedos or a Team GB tracksuit – not an apron. But the Olympic diver is showing off his culinary skills in a new healthy eating cookbook, Tom’s Daily Plan.
“One of the things people don’t necessarily know about me is I enjoy cooking. I’ve always been a lover of food – if I’m not diving or sleeping, I’m eating,” says the 22-year-old, laughing.
“I live my life for the next meal. I’m one of those people who thinks, ‘I’ve just finished lunch, OK what’s for dinner?’ – because athletes are always hungry.
“In my case, food is fuel,” adds the Plymouth-born athlete, “so I have to make sure I’m eating the right things to get the best out of myself every day.”
Along with simple workouts and fitness tips, the book is stuffed full of mouthwatering recipes that are healthy but actually hearty too, including his mum Debbie’s Sunday Lunch and Sausage Casserole, and California-born fiance Dustin Lance Black’s Scotch Eggs.
Daley’s lifelong love of food started with baking sessions at his nan and granddad’s.
“I remember me and my brothers all there with the bowl, arguing over who got to lick the spoon! As I got older, I wanted to take more of a role in the kitchen, so my grandma taught me how to cook vegetable soups and the broccoli pasta bake that’s in the book. That’s one of the first things I learnt to make.”
He’s had cooking lessons at Ashburton Cookery School in Devon, and likes to unwind in the kitchen after a day’s training by cooking for his Oscar-winning screenwriter fiance Black, at the flat they share near London’s Borough Market.
“I make him breakfast every single morning and then in the evenings, because the way the time difference works for him when he’s in the UK, everyone [in the US] starts waking up at about five o’clock, six o’clock, so he’s always on the phone sorting out his work stuff at that time when I’m cooking.
“But we do share it [cooking duties] quite often and he’s really really good on the barbecue. In the summer, we barbecue three times a week, just to cook chicken and marinated stuff; he does a good southern fried chicken thing. So some of his food isn’t the healthiest…” he admits with a laugh.
Daley, who won bronze medals at London 2012 and in Rio last summer, and trains for up to five hours a day, admits he has sweet tooth, but gets around it by steering clear of “the sugar train”.
“As soon as you get on it in the mornings, if you have a sugary cereal or breakfast, then by about 11 o’clock, you think, ‘Oh I need something else to get a bit of sugar’, and once you’ve had that, you want more and more and more.”
There are still plenty of sweet treats in the book, just with less sugar than regular versions, including his Not-so-naughty Brownies, made with dried prunes and dates and blueberries.
“The recipes aren’t just a boiled piece of chicken and steamed broccoli, it’s things that people would actually want to eat and not feel they’re cheating themselves out of a nice meal.”
Fancy giving Daley’s recipes a whirl? Dive in with these three…
Kedgeree with salmon
(495 calories per serving)
200g salmon fillet
1tbsp olive oil
2 large spring onions, sliced into small rings
3/4tsp curry powder
Good pinch of chilli flakes
75g brown basmati rice
275ml hot vegetable or chicken stock
1 small courgette, finely grated
60g frozen peas, thawed
2tbsp parsley, plus extra to garnish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the grill. Season the salmon fillet with salt and pepper and grill it for about 10 minutes until cooked. Set the fish aside until it’s cool enough to handle, then flake it into large chunks.
Heat the oil in a saucepan and stir-fry the spring onions for two to three minutes until softened. Stir in the spices and season well, then continue to stir-fry for a minute or so to cook the spices.
Stir in the rice and cook for one minute to coat it in the spices. Pour the hot stock over the top and put a lid on the pan. Bring the stock to the boil, then turn the heat down low and cook for 20-25 minutes.
Take the lid off the pan and quickly spoon the grated courgette and peas on top of the rice. Cover the pan again and continue to cook for three to five minutes longer until all the water has been absorbed and the courgette and peas are tender.
Meanwhile, bring a small pan of water to the boil and cook the eggs for six minutes. Drain well and cover the eggs with cold water, then carefully peel off the shells.
Fluff up the rice and stir in the parsley and salmon flakes, then divide the kedgeree between two bowls. Halve the eggs, arrange them on top and scatter over a little more parsley if you like before serving.
Mum’s Sausage Casserole
(500 calories per serving)
1tsp olive oil
1 red onion, cut into thick wedges
3-4 sprigs of thyme
1 garlic clove, sliced
4 pork and herb sausages
15g plain flour
250ml hot beef stock
1tsp tomato puree
Good splash of Worcestershire sauce
Small handful of freshly chopped parsley, to serve
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the root vegetable mash:
1 parsnip (about 125g), chopped
1 large carrot (about 125g), chopped
150g wedge of swede, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a flameproof casserole dish and stir-fry the red onion for five minutes until it starts to soften. Stir in the thyme and garlic, season well, and cook for one minute.
Add the sausages to the pan and brown them on each side. Take the onion and sausages out of the pan and set them aside. Add the butter and plain flour and stir for about a minute to make a paste. Slowly add the stock, stirring constantly to make a smooth sauce. Stir in the tomato puree and Worcestershire sauce.
Put the onions and sausages back in the pan and put the lid on. Bring to a gentle simmer, then cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring every now and then.
To make the mash, put the root veg in a saucepan, cover them with cold water and add salt. Put a lid on the pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 20-25 minutes until all the vegetables are very tender. Drain them, then tip them back into the pan. Put the pan back on the turned-off hob and leave for a minute or so to steam-dry the veg. Add the milk and butter, then season and mash until smooth.
Serve the mash with the sausages and spoon the gravy over the top. Garnish with parsley and serve with green veg.
Hot cheesecakes with a naughty topping
(474 calories per serving)
20g melted butter
1 large egg, separated
115g full-fat cream cheese
1tbsp runny honey
1tsp vanilla extract
For the topping:
28g Daim bar, smashed, or 15g dark chocolate
Preheat the oven to 170C/150C Fan/Gas 3. Whizz the digestive biscuits in a mini food processor to make fine crumbs. Tip them into a bowl, then stir in the melted butter and mix well. Divide the mixture between two 150ml ramekins.
Put the egg white in a clean bowl and whisk with an electric hand whisk or a balloon whisk until the egg white just holds its shape. The balloon whisk takes a little longer than the electric but it’s great upper arm exercise!
In a separate bowl, whisk the cream cheese, honey, egg yolk, cornflour and vanilla extract, using the same whisk – no need to wash it – until smooth.
Add a spoonful of the egg white to the cream cheese mixture and fold together. Add the remaining egg white and fold it in until smooth.
Divide the cream cheese mixture between the ramekins. Put them on a baking tray and bake them in the oven for 30 minutes until the cheesecake has cooked. Take them out of the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
Serve topped with raspberries and pieces of Daim bar or dark chocolate.
Tom’s Daily Plan by Tom Daley is available now.