Author's Preface
striated muscle tissue fire with graceful power.  We imagine how hard he must train to look like that and may visualize him doing bicep curls- teeth clenched, beads of sweat dripping down his temples

What we don't often stop picture is the kind of food this athlete must consume to build and repair muscle tissue and otherwise maintain order in a talented body that produces chaos and destruction.  Every recipe in this book represents a nod to the importance of eating a muscle building, body-repairing diet while still living a normal life.

Whether or not you call yourself an "athlete", Stella's Kitchen: Creative Cooking for Fun, Flavor, and a Lean, Strong Body will teach you how to cook healthy, well-balanced meals for you and your family.  The delicious recipes within will emphasize protein intake and the consumption of minimally processed complex carbohydrates and de-emphasizing the tradition of loading dishes with sodium and sugar.  If you are "dieting" or just looking for ways to clean up favorite dishes and reduce your sugar intake, I applaud your decision to defend your body against the illness, disease, and deterioration that comes with poor food choices.  If you are bold and willing to make small changes in your diet, my friend, you are different.  Rather than bumble carelessly from one meal to the next, you care and understand that eating better is necessary for your long-term health and well-being.  Grab an apron and let's turn away from the fast food melee that's fast overcoming throngs of good people who should know better.  

If you are a serious or recreational athlete of any sort, may this cookbook be a companion at your training table.  I already know you are interested in eating food that will support the growth of lean muscle tissue while minimizing the preponderance of body fat. In fact, you see food as fuel that helps you meet strength, agility, speed, or other physical improvement goals.  You know that nutritious food helps you recover from strenuous physical activities that you love and enables you to get up the next day to do them all over again.   Since I know what's on most American dinner tables, I imagine that you often find yourself eating separately from your friends and precious family.  Put down that dumbbell. Hop off the treadmill.  I've got something I want to show you.

This cookbook is not accompanied by a secret diet or training regimen. It's not part of the latest fad diet bandwagon nor will it send subliminal messages to you to purchase any specific product.  While it is intended for an audience of busy athletes, the dishes are meant to please the palettes of yet to discover the athlete within and those pessimists who never fathomed eating right could taste so good.  This cookbook is a collection of recipes from a woman of strength who was practically born in the kitchen wearing a chef's hat and holding a big wooden spoon.  As a consequence of her talent and a lack of knowledge about nutrition, she lived a chubby little life and eventually found the bathroom scales occasionally tipping to 203 pounds. 

I still enjoy good food and cooking for my family and loved ones. The difference now, aside from smaller clothes, is a genuine love for the power, strength, and health that comes with living the inspired life of an athlete.  What you hold in your hands is a collection of recipes that will hopefully encourage you to believe that health and happiness go hand in hand.

There is but one common ingredient you'll need for every dish.  Cook with love.  As you prepare these things, think about the people you are cooking for and imagine how this fresh and tasty food will nourish their bodies from the inside out.  Cook from your soul the gift that will enable their bodies to pursue physical activity and athletic goals big and small that will keep them fired up about being alive.  Let love, care, and sweet thoughts swirl about, radiating through your fingertips even if you'll actually be the only one sitting at the table. 

You've just picked up a more than a cookbook, friend.   These are recipes for athletes that are actually edible by people who could give a lick about nutrition.  These recipes are all simple and fast because I understand that having to spend hours in the kitchen may deter you from long term dietary health.  I know many of you may be trying to build a body on a shoestring budget and included information from my own experiences as a single mother/athlete to help you accomplish your dietary goals economically. 

My sincere hope is that what you find here will inspire what may currently be a bland or unhealthy diet. Beyond this, I hope that it fuels a personal record here and there and even greater, that it will become a tool that helps you move forward in your quest for a healthier lifestyle year after year.

Stella Juarez
Denver, Colorado, USA

Perhaps no other person in the world requires a diet as nutritious as the athlete concerned with personal performance.  We may see a professional athlete sprinting down a track, flexing his muscles on a stage or jumping over opponents to catch a pass in the end zone. We watch in silent  awe as interconnecting mounds of hard,

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