World-recognized training, Michelin-level experience
We're excited to announce Chef Mario Limaduran has joined the Trifecta squad!
Mario combines world-recognized training, Michelin-level experience and a B.S. degree in Culinary Nutrition from Johnson & Wales University, to deliver culinary guidance and creativity to the Trifecta team.
When he’s not managing the diets of top MMA fighters as part of Trifecta’s UFC partnership, he’s developing recipes, sharing knowledge and striving to make healthy eating easier for thousands of Americans.
So what’s that mean for you? If you're on the Clean, Paleo, Vegan or Vegetarian plan, you can look for chef Mario's exclusive recipes every week, combining classic techniques with exciting ingredients and flavors.
We sat down with him recently to get the scoop on what inspires him, what drew him to Trifecta, and what he cooks when he's at home. Check out our conversation below.
All about macros
Q: All the recipes you create for Trifecta stay within certain macros—is that different from how you usually create recipes?
A: Not really. My mind thinks nutrition first, then flavor, then presentation. All equally important—but I strongly believe adding an extra focus on the macronutrients makes the food that much more purposeful for anyone consuming it.
Q: How hard is it to create good tasting food that also meets specific dietary needs?
A: It has its challenges, but it is easier than what most people think. Dietary needs can get tricky, but that’s when creativity and knowledge come into play. There are ways to adjust most things. I strongly believe that both taste and nutrition are cohesive factors; there’s no reason why one should be sacrificed for the other.
Q: What tricks do you use to keep down unhealthy stuff like added fat?
A: I use a super simple method I developed from my education and industry experience: I measure the ingredients by using tablespoons, measuring cups and a weight scale. This provides the ability to control and/or minimize inefficient foods for optimal health.
I also choose mostly plant based ingredients, instead of processed or animal based. For example, I choose olive or grapeseed oil over animal fats, or I add nuts and seeds for extra calories that are purposeful.
I believe that as long as the foods are consumed in balance, any "unhealthy" food won’t damage the overall health picture of anyone.
Trifecta recipe inspiration
Q: How do you think of recipes? Where do you draw inspiration from?
A: There are some incredibly talented chefs currently breaking the mold and pushing the envelope within the culinary industry. I seek out different channels of inspiration, whether it be from my past experiences, cook books, online recipes or blogs…
But the most inspiring place to be, in my experience, is the farmers market. I get to see what’s fresh; I get to hear the story behind the ingredients and meet the people who grow them. That in itself is amazingly inspiring.
Q: What makes your work with Trifecta different from creating recipes for restaurants?
A: It’s similar and different at the same time; quite the paradox. It’s similar in the sense that the food gets to be appealing, beautiful, tasty, and seasonal.
It’s different in the sense of production and intention. Recipes are simpler, to ensure success in the production, and to be able to inspire home cooks to get creative with the food they get.
The intention is to provide our clients with performance-oriented foods, which is why we use ingredients known to extend longevity, performance and well being in the human body. The #EatLikeYouTrain factor is always present. The food gets to be that 91 premium fuel, to support the optimal peak performance of our athletes and customers.
I find that beautiful. It’s what food is supposed to do: nourish you.
Q: As you know, Trifecta uses only grass-fed beef and cage-free poultry. Do you find there’s a difference in how that type of meat cooks or tastes?
A: One-hundred percent. I strongly believe how an animal lives and is treated has a direct impact on the taste and quality of the meat. There’s a reason why industrially produced foods don’t have the same ‘oomph’ as the same foods sold at the farmers market.
It’s the ingredients behind the ingredients; the quality behind the product. When chickens run around and eat grass, there is as a communion in the biodiversity of the environment where they are. The chicken eats the grass that is nourished directly by the air, earth, and sun. The chicken supports the environment by consuming grass and inhibiting overgrowth.
The nutrients from the earth, air, and sun are digested and converted into the energy that feeds that animal. And that in turn feeds us. And a similar situation happens with cows. The quality and taste of an animal is a direct byproduct of the quality of its environment and feed. It's fascinating.
Q: Do you have a favorite Trifecta recipe that customers should be on the lookout for?
A: I can’t say I have a favorite yet. I love the ability to be able to play with the A La Carte items. The ingredients are already cooked, so with a little play, amazing dishes can be created.
For example, the other day I created a 10-minute cod taco by combining some of the A La Carte veggies, warming up a couple tortillas, brown rice, and basa. I added a few extra ingredients to dress the tacos, and topped it all with a beautiful salsa roja. It was quite the dinner.
I have also been really enjoying the salmon. I’m continuously pleased by how well the proteins are cooked, especially considering these are fully cooked pre-packaged meals. The quality is high compared to any other ready-to-eat meal I’ve had.
Tips for home cooks
Q: A lot of our clients supplement a meal plan with some at-home cooking. Do you have any tips or tricks for modifying at-home recipes to be healthier?
A: One great resource to use is the Trifecta blog. We create all kinds of recipes using Trifecta products to inspire your own adventures in the kitchen.
I boil my tips down to this: For carbs, eat mostly whole-grain sources. For fats, focus mostly on heart-healthy sources. And for proteins, look for lean sources.
Always have a serving of vegetables for your lunch and dinner, and use vinaigrettes and dressings to pack your vegetables with flavor! It makes the experience that much more pleasant.
Q: What are some tips from a professional kitchen that people can use in their own kitchens?
A: There are so many. First, keep your home knives sharp. Sharpen them constantly—this will make your experience in the kitchen so much easier.
I would also encourage people to lose the fear to cook and try new dishes. Also, lose the fear of salt—salt is a natural flavor enhancer. Always salt your salads. Always salt your tomatoes and avocados. Making vinaigrettes, spreads, and sauces at home is much cheaper than purchasing them—and much easier than what people think.
Use acids, like lemons, lemon zest, limes and vinegars to add brightness to a dish—a small amount goes a long way. Clean as you go, and always keep a damp paper towel under your cutting board to avoid movement—this will ensure safety.
A little about Mario
Q: What kind of food do you like to eat in your regular life? Do you cook dinner for yourself or meal prep?
A: I do both: cook dinners and meal prep. What I preach is what I practice. I enjoy creating new things. It makes me feel like I am progressing in my profession, but it also provides a beautiful experience for those around me and for myself.
I love fruits and vegetables—it’s like the oil and fluids to a car. It ensures the proper maintenance and operation of the machinery that our bodies are. Every now and then I enjoy some fast food and go out to eat. Like I said, it’s all about balance.
Q: From learning a bit about you, I understand healthy food is kind of what you’ve always done. Is that aspect what drew you to Trifecta?
A: Yes, I have a Culinary Nutrition degree from Johnson & Wales University. Ever since graduating, my focus has been fueling performance, whether it was a collegiate sport, an amateur, or professional athlete... food always had that further performance purpose in my mind. Trifecta has a beautiful vision long term.
My vision is to stand in the gap of where food and health are today, and where they get to be tomorrow; our visions aligns in many aspects. I was excited to hear and join a company that is working towards changing the reality of health in our country through food.
Trifecta is an envelope-pushing company—being surrounded by people who operate at this level is inspiring.
Try Mario's recipes for yourself
Want to get in on chef Mario's exclusive Trifecta recipes? Check out the Clean, Paleo, Vegetarian or Vegan plans. You'll see his recipes in your box each week. Explore more below.