Having a power meal with ... Debi Purcell
Debi Purcell was supposed to be a gymnast. Although she excelled in the sport as a kid, she traded in her leotard for a taekwondo uniform as a teen. "Martial arts helped me vent my teenage anger and angst," Purcell said, laughing. Before long, she was also practicing Muay Thai kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and training on UFC champion Marcos Ruas' all-male team. "When we sparred, those guys treated me as an equal," she said.
Purcell began persuading mixed-martial arts promoters to allow her to fight. In 2002, she became the first woman to battle -- and win -- in a "King of the Cage" competition, helping put women's MMA on the map. These days, Purcell's Web site, FighterGirls.com, and clothing line keep her busy, but she still makes time to train. Here's what she fuels up on after a tough workout:
What's the dish: Chicken-vegetable noodle soup.
What's in it: "First, I sauté a bunch of chopped veggies, like carrots, celery, onions and broccoli -- whatever sounds good -- in a big pan with a little oil," Purcell said. Once they're tender, she stirs in a spoonful of flour to create a roux, then adds water and a whole chicken. "I let it all simmer together for a few hours, or until the chicken's falling off the bone," Purcell said. "Then I remove the bones and skin and put the meat back into the pot with some noodles." After flavoring it with salt, pepper and spices, she has enough for a week's worth of meals.
When it's on the table: For lunch and dinner often. "Although I've been more focused on my businesses lately, I still train one to three hours a day," Purcell said. "So it's nice to have a healthy meal already in the fridge." What would it take lure Purcell back into the ring? "If they allow women in the UFC," Purcell said. "It's always been my dream to fight in the UFC. A lot of my teammates -- guys that I sparred with -- fought in the league."
What it delivers: The chicken provides muscle-building protein, while the veggies deliver nutrients, like vitamins A, C, E and K. "I like the noodles for energy," Purcell said. "But if I'm trying to get my weight down for a fight, I'll leave them out."
Why she loves it: "I've tried lots of different types of diets -- vegetarian, vegan, you name it," Purcell said. "But I've learned that what works best for my body and lifestyle is eating nutrient-packed dishes like this one that are easy, fast and tasty."