This is one woman's harrowing tale of coming face-to-face with millet and living to talk about it.
The assignment is simple in its direction—"Eat like Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchenfor a day"—but resoundingly complex in its execution. For Tom and Gisele are no normal consumers of food. Their bodies are temples (this the rest of us can see with but one cursory glance) and they treat them as such. No single ingredient in their daily diet even slightly resembles something I would willingly put into my own mouth. (Except bananas; there's no evidence, but we probably both eat bananas.)
This fact is, of course, what makes this missive interesting in the first place. The idea that celebrities are just like us couldn't be further from the truth, so wouldn't it be fun to get a first-person account of just how blasphemous that statement really is?
Fun for you, reader, but decidedly less so for me.
Much has been written about their now-famous life of self-imposed deprivation, so at least the research was easy. Earlier this year, the personal chef who is lucky enough to be in their employ (that's Allen Campbell to you) bravely spoke out gave an interview to Boston.com about the couple's diet. In preparing foods for their royal Bradys, he mostly adheres to the 80-20 rule and abides by the philosophy "If it's not organic, I don't use it."
In this case, the 80-20 rule specifically means that T&G eat 80% (organic) vegetables and whole grains, like millet (don't worry; we'll get to that later) or beans, and 20% lean meats such as grass-fed (organic grass, we presume) steak, duck and wild salmon. He described their foods as "mostly purchased from Whole Foods" and often prepared in the form of a bowl. You know, like Chipotle! (Narrator: "It was not like Chipotle.")
I've saved the bad news for last. The very long list of things they will never consume contains the following: white sugar, white flour, MSG, caffeine, coffee, olive oil, iodized salt, fungus, dairy and nightshade vegetables, which Campbell and his employers equate to the source of all evil. "I'm very cautious about tomatoes," the chef told Boston.com. "They cause inflammation."
He also explained that while this diet may seem drastic, it's all in the name of good health, not good looks—"reversing and preventing disease" rather than getting a hot bod. To which I immediately called bulls--t, because while I certainly don't want to get any diseases, I don't want to cut out olive oil and not also end up looking good.
But not to worry, as I would only be doing this for 24 hours (eight of which I would be sleeping!) and was guaranteed to suffer with no promise of any lasting physical result. Is that what the celebs call a win-win?
So on to the assignment. When I read this dietary guidance, I had no idea what to do with it. Millet? How do I eat millet? What is a millet? A quick Google search revealed the description: "Millets are a group of highly variable small-seeded grasses, widely grown around the world as cereal crops or grains for fodder and human food." So not only did I still not know what this ingredient was, I was now confused as to whether I should be adding an "s" at the end of the word.
Since hiring this Campbell guy to come cook for me was out of the question, I decided to turn to Gisele's Instagram for guidance on meal planning. Surely she could have some sort of food photos or any evidence at all of what a meal made out of millet looks like.
Well guys, I didn't find much. It turns out that she isn't nearly as interested in sharing with her followers what she's eating as she is sharing with them her yoga poses and her connection with horses. I did uncover one picture of her being presented with a birthday cake, but something tells me that birthday cake doesn't really fall under the category of approved foods and it's not even clear if she actually ate it.
As such, I was on my own to navigate this new, confusing world of lean meats. The only place to go was directly to my local Whole Foods, kissing my checking account goodbye on the way.
Now, I may joke, but I'm actually a pretty regular devotee of the Dub F. I'm even on a nickname basis with the place. I pull back my visits when finances so call, but whenever I go, I'm shopping as your average person who doesn't want to give themselves a heart attack but also has a healthy (very healthy; I was born in Wisconsin) appreciation for the cheese case. I have the locations of all the best bulk candies memorized (give it up for shark gummies!), but no idea where to get pretty much anything that considers itself an ingredient and not a fully-formed meal ready to eat.
(And with that, can we take a second to give an amen to the prepared foods bar? I appreciate you daily.)
Luckily for me and anyone else looking to spend some time eating like Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen, the staff at Whole Foods is very nice and accommodating and you can basically walk right up to them with a Post-it covered with your new buzz words like millet and Swiss chard and they will point you in all the right directions. I got everything! Vegetables! Fruits! Enough cans of beans to keep me alive through at least one nuclear disaster! And zero cheese. For the very first time in my moderately-young life I walked out of a grocery store without any cheese.
For that, I was already a changed person. Who cares how the actual day of eating went? (Narrator: "Badly. It went badly.")
That's because, guys, you can have the most beautiful bounty of fresh, non-MSG foods in the world. And you can have the most enthusiastic, Gisele-y attitude of all time. But if you don't have Chef Allen Campbell sleeping in the room next to you, you is screwed.
Here are some of the things that I ate: Green juice, which I of course didn't make myself because I wasn't going to buy a damn juicer just for this. I bought it at Whole Foods and it promised me that it contained: apple, kale, spinach, ginger, lemon. It actually was good and something that I often buy, albeit in the past it has been an addition to meals. But it was still within my comfort zone and not horribly expensive because it was the store brand.
I also ate carrots. I typically prefer to dip them in hummus, but I wasn't going to take the time to find out if a garbanzo bean is a Brady-approved type of legume. But while regular me would have purchased the pre-packaged bag of baby carrots, the Gisele-me purchased one of those giant bunches of straight-from-the-ground carrots and...wait for it...peeled them myself. With a knife, because I don't own a vegetable peeler.
I know what you're thinking: You sound like you were already very full! Good guess, but no.
My lunch of shoddily-peeled carrots wasn't doing it for me, so I had a banana, but I couldn't remember if I pulled it from the organic section or the pesticide-y section because who has ever paid attention to what type of banana they bought before, and proceeded to spend the rest of the afternoon feeling like a failure and also dreaming about cheese.
Then came dinner, which would prove to be the most difficult part. You see, the 20% lean meats directive is quite obviously meant to be used at dinner, but not so obviously vegetarian-friendly. And unfortunately for me, that's what I am: a vegetarian. And not the I-care-about-animal-rights-and-gave-up-burgers-recently kind, but the I-was-raised-a-vegetarian-and-would-probably-die-if-I-ate-meat kind. So the plan was salmon, something this former New Yorker who never learned how prepare more than a two-ingredient meal had never prepared for herself (if you couldn't tell from my very extravagant breakfast and lunch.)
After a few minutes of chastising myself for being a total kitchen loser, I cooked myself up a beautiful salmon slab complete with a picture-perfect slice of lemon (a fruit!) over the top. And thus begins the portion of this story where I discuss the need to purchase an oven thermometer. Because cooking salmon for yourself is terrifying. How am I ever supposed to trust that I won't give myself the uncooked-seafood-induced barfs? The directive to pull it out of the oven when it's "flaky enough" is just not going to cut it for someone who is as paranoid about giving myself the barfs that I am.
So do you know what I did? I got up, walked myself right on back to Whole Foods, and bought a quinoa bowl from the prepared foods bar. And it was delicious. Is quinoa a millet? I don't give a s--t. But I do know that I would like for Tom and Gisele to create a cookbook to make this a whole lot easier for next time.