Pittsburgh Steeler Najee Harris on the 'boujee' protein he's added to his ramen since childhood: 'I still eat it to this day'
Because food connects us all, Yahoo Life is serving up a heaping plateful of table talk with people who are passionate about what's on their menu in Deglazed, a series about food.
The star of Najee Harris's childhood food dreams were store-bought ramen noodle packets that he sometimes dressed up with added ingredients.
"Ramen noodles are what I was raised on," says the Pittsburgh Steelers running back. "And then cabbage, meat and rice — we had to have some healthy stuff because my mom's a healthy freak."
Still, ramen noodles — specifically the Top Ramen brand — were No. 1 in Harris's playbook. "Every now and then if we wanted to get all boujee and stuff we would add some hot dogs in there or a little bit of eggs," he adds. "I still eat that to this day."
Now, Harris, who was selected by the Steelers in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, turns to another variety of noodles as his go-to post-game meal.
"I love chicken Alfredo," Harris tells Yahoo Life. "I can't make my own — I'm always too tired and I'll fall asleep and burn my house down — so I go to a spot right by my house and I get the same thing every time: fettuccine Alfredo. They know my face and I don't have to say anything, they just bring it out and I eat it. It's perfect."
Harris spoke with Yahoo Life as part of his work with Mission Tiger, a program started by Frosted Flakes to fund youth sports. The 24-year-old says his off-menu special at Pittsburgh pizza restaurant Il Pizzaiolo started with a craving.
"I looked at their menu and they didn't have chicken Alfredo but they were like, 'We could make it probably,'" he recalls. "They made it hella good and ever since then, they've been making it for me. It's a small little place, too — a pizza spot — but they've got some good-ass fettuccine and they make it just for me. That's why I like it."
While playing college football at the University of Alabama, Harris says there was yet another tradition guaranteed to make carb-lovers drool. "Before the game, you always eat steak and macaroni — always," he shares, "every single Friday. It's hella good though: steak, macaroni and cheese and spaghetti or lasagna. It's a lot. Now, I don't eat before games at all, to be honest."
Harris says through his work with Mission Tiger, he hopes to inspire other young athletes. Recently, he visited Greenfield Elementary School in Pittsburgh, Pa. with Frosted Flakes mascot Tony the Tiger to throw passes to the school's co-ed flag football team and present the school with a monetary donation from Mission Tiger.
"We're donating $44,000 to 38,000 kids," he says of his work with the organization. "We've got an obstacle course set up and me and Tony are going to be going through it and I'm coaching the kids."
So what's it like to spend a day on the field with an icon as grrreat as Tony the Tiger?
"Tony's cool, man," says Harris. "He's full of energy just like he is on TV and to see him in person and have the kids see him in person, it's good."
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