theGrio's healthy cooking series: Chef Max

african kings

Two years ago, Chef Maxcel Hardy became the personal chef for NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire, combining his love of basketball with his love of culinary arts.

“[Stoudemire’s] an athlete, so his health regimen comes into play and it has a lot to do with the team’s dietitian,” Chef Max says. “We try to go with their guidelines and try to make it taste good.”

He does so combining American, French, Asian and Caribbean styles of cooking. However, as his clientele has grown to include other athletes, hip-hop artists, actors and even dignitaries, they too have influenced his cooking style.

“A lot of my clients were athletes or A-listers that watched their weight in the public eye,” says Chef Max. “I became health-conscious as well. That whole movement let me change my cooking style to healthy eating and healthy cooking.”

Through his foundation, One Chef Can 86 Hunger, Chef Max educates both adults and youth about healthy eating and cost-friendly eating choices.

Here, Chef Max shares his healthy cooking tips and a healthy recipe with theGrio, just in time for the holiday season.

Buy fresh. Get away from processed foods, especially canned goods.

Don’t overcook veggies. Leaving them al dente ensures you get the most nutritional value.

Reinvent the veggie. For those tired of eating veggies straight up, Chef Max suggests making them into smoothies or juices. “Throw a pineapple or apple in there,” he adds.

Roast, don’t fry. That’s means not frying the turkey this year, folks. Opt for roasting the bird, and ease away from using grease and fat.

Substitute. Instead of making the usual sweet potato pie, substitute butternut squash. Squash has half the calories and half the carbs that sweet potatoes do.

 Pan Seared Grouper


4 Fresh Grouper filet

2 teaspoons Cajun spice (1 teaspoon for flour)

2 teaspoons Lime Juice

1/2 bunch Cilantro (Chopped)

2 -1/4 cup Olive Oil (2 cups for sautéing fish)

2 cups flour

salt and pepper to taste


1. Place fish and all ingredients (except flour and olive oil) in mixing bowl and allow ingredients to marinate for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

2. Place flour on a cookie sheet, seasoning the flour with 1 teaspoon of Cajun spice and salt/pepper. Roll fish in flout creating a nice even coat. Shake off excess flour.

3. Warm olive oil over medium heat in a non-stick pan. Once oil is hot, place fish side down for 3 minutes, flip fish and complete the same process. Remove fish from oil, placing on a rack to remove excess oil

4. Place fish on plate and garnish with salad.

Spring Pineapple & Strawberry Salad


1 whole pineapple (Julienne)

4 mint leaves (diced)

5 large Strawberry (sliced)

2 teaspoons agave

1/2 lime (juiced)

1/2 lemon (juiced)

1/2 orange (juiced)

2 leaf basil (chopped)

1 lb. mixed greens

1/4 cup olive oil


1. In a large mixing bowl, mix all ingredients together.

2. Place in refrigerator for 30 Minutes.

3. Toss with mixed greens.

4. Serve alongside fish or any springtime poultry.

Dr. Tyeese Gaines is a physician-journalist with over 10 years of print and broadcast experience, now serving as health editor for Dr. Ty is also a practicing emergency medicine physician in New Jersey. Follow her on twitter at @doctorty or on Facebook.

Read more healthy cooking tips from other chefs here.