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Annika Sorenstam

By Marcus Samuelsson | October 27, 2010

Pro golfer Annika Sorenstam is one of the most successful golfers in history and a fellow Swede. She’s also the founder of the Annika Foundation and Annika Academy.

I was excited when she agreed to take some time out of her busy family, golf and philanthropy schedule to chat with me about her thoughts on cooking and food.

ANNIKA ON COOKING AT HOME

I love to cook so he (my husband) cleans and he sets the table.”

“When we eat at home, we don’t eat the same five things all the time. We try to eat different meals every night. I love doing stir-fry one night, then pasta, then fish and then we grill some chicken. I really love variety, that’s the way I cook at home. Months go by and we might have 2-3 dishes that are the same.”

ANNIKA ON HER CHILDHOOD FOOD MEMORIES

“Food is something I’ve always enjoyed. When I was a little girl, I spent hours with my mom in the kitchen. In the beginning, it was making gingersnaps or peeling potatoes, very basic things but I enjoyed spending time with my mom.”

ANNIKA ON KEEPING HER SWEDISH HERITAGE IN FOOD

We have an IKEA right around the corner so that’s very helpful [laughter]…I get the herring, some teas, salmon and caviar and crackers, the lingonberries too.”

ANNIKA ON HER FAVORITE FOOD PLACES ACROSS THE GLOBE

“One of the things I’ve enjoyed about traveling (for golf) are the different cultures. When I play in Asia, I love going to Thailand. I love the food there and I love the ingredients they use – it’s so fresh. When I got to Japan, I love sushi and tapanyaki. In Korea, I love the Korean barbecue. I like to try the native foods. It’s tough for me to single out one particular place (as my favorite). I enjoy coming to New York. It has some amazing restaurants, fine dining and that has its beauty. One of my favorite meals is Mexican in Mexico and I don’t really eat Mexican here because it doesn’t taste the same. The same goes for Italy – there’s nothing like the pasta there.”

ANNIKA ON EATING DURING GOLF TOURS

“I believe in moderation so it’s not like I traveled with strange foods (during tournaments). I just made sure that I ate carbohydrates the night before and had a proper breakfast, proper lunch and drank a lot of water and got sleep. Of course, there were times when I splurged but I think, long term, eating consistently is best.”

On the course…“When I’m on the golf course, I always bring some food with me because the tee times are different. Sometimes you tee off at 8 in the morning and sometimes you tee off at 1pm, so you’re going to miss meals. What I bring on the course is fruit, mostly banana because it’s easy to digest, some raisins and energy bars. If it’s something like the US Open, it takes longer to play, so I might bring a protein powder and mix it whenever I’m ready. Peanut butter on whole wheat is also very easy and good because it lasts.

ANNIKA LOVES…

“I love pasta, it’s very easy to make. You can really make it anywhere. We rent homes when we traveled, so we had a kitchen and it allowed us to cook. When I cook, I know what goes into the food we’re eating. Being on the road, eating out is fun but it gets tiring so (cooking) is just another way for me to relax.

When asked about her guilty food pleasures…“I love ice cream (Annika later confirmed that vanilla was her favorite flavor)! I don’t eat it as much as I’d like but I really like it. That and cheeses. I think it’s just very Swedish. We might have some wine, cheese and crackers while we’re cooking dinner, instead of chips – that I do.”

ANNIKA ON FAMILY TIME AT THE DINNER TABLE

“In Sweden, we eat a lot with our families. Over here, you don’t see that as much. A lot of people eat out several times a week. There is no TV when we eat; this is our time together. I guess those are the things I got from my mom and how I was raised. Dinner is our family time and it shouldn’t just be to fill you up, it’s about socializing with each other.”

ANNIKA ON CHILDREN, FOOD & FITNESS

“A major part of the Annika Foundation is nutrition and fitness. When we were growing up, we always played outside. When the sun was up, we were out. We were on our bikes or jumping rope. We would do all kinds of stuff all day long but kids nowadays live very different lives. Unfortunately, they don’t have physical education in schools. They don’t even walk or bike home, they get picked up in cars. They sit in front of computers and play video games at an average of four hours per day. Then they eat food that their parents probably brought in, something quick yet processed. So here you have kids who are no longer active, don’t eat properly and drink lots of soda and juices that are full of sugar. So you see why the obesity rate in America is very high, it’s worldwide but especially in this country. A third of the children are obese in this country. So it’s really kind of sad because now you have diabetes in children that you only used to see in 40 year olds. They also have high blood pressure and low self-esteem. These are the problems we’re tackling in my foundation. We are working with our partners, one of them is Florida Hospital. We have raised money for the schools encouraging them to bring back physical education. I’ve also started the Annika Wellness Center. We have a program in place to help fight obesity and the children who take part meet with doctors, nutritionists and psychologists. If we don’t start now, it’s only going to get worse.”

“Eva (my daughter) is only one years old now but we feed her pretty much everything. I’m not one of those parent who will give her only macaroni and cheese and hot dogs. She eats a lot of vegetables. She loves all kinds of food. She also drinks a lot of water and milk. I’m very particular about this.”

ANNIKA ON THE ANNIKA FOUNDATION

“I started by giving out scholarships to young girls to play golf and when I stepped away from the game, I stepped up our initiatives and now we run a junior golf tournament once a year. We have 70 of the top junior girls in the world come to Orlando to compete. We have done this for three years and when we do that we also raise $100,000 so that kids who aren’t as fortunate can play the game. Golf has been my platform and I want to make sure these kids can live their dream, kind of like what I’ve been doing.”

Annika is doing a lot of great things and it was great to hear that we were working towards similar goals. I wish the Annika Foundation absolute success in all of its work!

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