Mum’s Recipes with the Oketch Family
For award-winning professional athlete and pro trainer Christopher Oketch, health and fitness is a way of life. As a multiple-winner of Qatar’s Strongest Man title and a World Champion Professional Natural Bodybuilder, Christopher follows a strict dietary and training regime to maintain his peak level of fitness. Life for a pro athlete can be demanding and pressured at the best of times, but for Christopher, there is one main priority that keeps his feet firmly on the ground. “The most important element to me is family,” he says.
A proud family man, Christopher is married to Australian businesswoman Kimberley and father to Rio, aged two, and two older step-children—Paris, aged 23, and Indigo, aged 15. Although it’s a super busy household juggling work, training, and daily school runs, Christopher has a positive approach to family life and says, “there are always challenges, but my wife Kimberley and I work as a team. We empower each other to reach our goals and dreams as a family and as individuals”.
Originally from Kenya, Christopher arrived in Qatar to further his athletic career, with a burning ambition to support his big, extended family, including his mother, six brothers, and three sisters For many Kenyans, Christopher says, working abroad in another country “is a dream” and for him, taking care of his mother and siblings is crucial.
From a young age, Christopher was immersed in the world of fitness. His elder brother, William, trained in local gyms and eventually became Mr Kenya. Inspired by what he calls his brother’s “determination and energy”, Christopher became interested in bodybuilding and won the title of Kenya’s Strongest Man, not once, but three times.
To maintain his successful and award-winning career, Christopher keeps a watchful eye on his diet, stating that “training and dieting go hand in hand”.
He describes his strict regimen as follows: “If I’m preparing for a bodybuilding competition, my diet is very boring and consists of mainly egg whites, grilled chicken breast, broccoli and rice with no oil or salt. It’s really no fun at all! But the rest of the time I really eat anything and everything!”
Keeping fit and healthy is something Christopher says has been instilled in him from a very young age: “I train, train, train, all the time and sometimes I even pull my wife’s car around the compound! Of course, my style of training is not for everyone!”
But it’s not just a gruelling exercise and training schedule that defines keeping active for Christopher. Fun, physical activities are important for the whole family, and they often take son Rio to Al Bidda Park or the Corniche. When Doha’s temperatures are low, the family loves to make the most of the great outdoors and venture outside as much as possible. “In the cooler months, Doha has some of the most amazing parks to discover and it’s a great way to spend time as a family,” says Christopher. It’s obvious that this multicultural family has a passion for food that is both healthy and delicious. Luckily for Christopher, he describes his wife Kimberley as “a whizz in the kitchen”, and says that his family eat the home-cooked meals she prepares.
So how would Kimberley describe her own cooking style? “Quick and easy, quite Australian, with fresh and healthy Thai food, stir-fries, and homemade soups,” she says, “I love visiting the vegetable market. Sometimes we have roast dinners, which are easy to prepare. We also eat lots of salads, grilled meats, and make green juices. We don’t eat any takeaway at all!” Kimberley also loves to be spontaneous in the kitchen and doesn’t usually follow recipes preferring to “just throw it all together”.
Christopher’s Kenyan roots have also influenced the family’s style of eating, with plenty of natural and fresh produce on the daily menu: “We grew up without pre-packaged food. Our staple food was ugali— a type of porridge made from polenta/maize flour which we would eat with fresh vegetables. Maybe once a week we would eat fish and on special occasions, chicken or beef. Homemade chapati was cooked only on special occasions.”
What are this family’s favourite kitchen staples?
“Eggs, rice cakes, salads, berries, lots of celery for juicing, polenta, chicken, and water being our drink of choice,” says Kimberly. Christopher adds, “our young son Rio loves rice, chicken and broccoli, and he’s obsessed with berries, fruits, and rice cakes with the Australian classic sandwich spread, Vegemite. I know Kimberley always packs a great variety of food for Rio’s lunchbox including carrot sticks, hummus, chicken, apple, mini meatballs and sultanas”. Snacks in the Oketch household often include nuts, banana bread, and homemade soups. For this family, an active lifestyle combined with simple, wholesome food is a medal-winning recipe!
Bananas are an excellent source of fuel for the muscles. In this recipe, classic banana bread has been given a healthy high fibre makeover with the addition of oats.
- 225g plain flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 110g firmly packed soft brown sugar
- 200g plain oats
- 60g finely chopped pitted dried dates
- 60g finely chopped walnuts
- 2 eggs
- 80ml sunflower oil or light olive oil
- 80ml reduced-fat milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla flavouring
- 2 large (about 450g) very ripe bananas, mashed
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C for fan ovens).
- Spray a 7cm deep, 10 x 21cm (base measurement) non-stick loaf tin with olive oil.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon into a large bowl. Add the sugar, oats, dates, and walnuts. Stir to combine.
- Whisk together the eggs, oil, milk, and vanilla. Stir through the mashed banana. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined.
- Spoon into prepared tin and smooth surface with back of spoon. Place into the middle of the oven and bake for 50–55 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Stand in the tin for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool.
- Cut into slices and serve toasted with a drizzle of honey.
Makes approx. 1 ½ cups
For a tasty and healthy snack, this colourful dip pairs perfectly with sliced vegetables such as carrot and celery, or even crackers. If needed, use rubber hand gloves to reduce any beetroot stains.
- 650g (about three beetroots) washed, dried and trimmed
- 80ml extra virgin oil
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 280g Greek style yoghurt
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 180°C or (160°C for fan ovens).
- Wash and dry beetroots. Trim any leaves. Place beetroots with two tablespoons of olive oil into a large bowl and toss well to coat.
- Wrap each beetroot loosely in foil then place in an ovenproof dish.
- Roast for 1 ½ hour or until tender. Remove from oven. Unwrap beetroots and cool to room temperature.
- Using a small knife, peel the outer skin from beetroots. Coarsely grate beetroots and place in a colander to drain off excess liquid. Combine beetroots, remaining two tablespoons oil, garlic, yoghurt, and lemon juice in a large bowl, and then season to taste.
- Serve with vegetable sticks, crackers, or rice crackers.