Thursday, May 19, 2011

Recent Obsessions - Volume 2: Clean Eating While Training

I dedicate this post to my grandpop who dedicated his life to eating healthy.

About a month ago, my grandfather past away at 95.
He was such an interesting man. He always led a healthy and active lifestyle. He started swimming later in his life when my aunt (a former Kona Ironwoman) needed swim lessons. As he developed gout in his leg he swam until one day he fell at the pool. Instead of giving up on fitness, he developed a home gym in the living room and dining room where he attached resistance bands and had hand weights to continue to be strong. His plates were always colorful with veggies and fruits. He told us the secret to everything was wheat germ.

When he passed, my aunt asked if I could type up his essay that he wrote for her for a class. As I read this well thought out story of his life I understood the values and mantras that he passed on to us "onions" - He was the Original Big Onion (aka Cipolone). Eating lots of fruits and vegetables!!!

Here was a short exert from his story.

"Today, it is recommended that we eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. That was no problem for us. Our standard diet is what is now referred to as the Mediterranean diet. The vacant lot next to our house was planted for several years with vegetables and cultivated by mostly Mom and Grandpop with the help of us kids doing some weeding and picking off bugs by hand to be burned in an open fire which was permissible then; no permit required. Pear trees and a sour cherry tree was also out there. This supply was supplemented by vegetables and fruit brought home from the farms on which we worked.

For several years, pop cultivated an empty lot near our house with a tracter he built from a chopped 1925 Buick sedan and a rear axle and transmission from his Model T Ford truck. He planted it in sweet potatoes which lasted us all winter. We had baskets of potatoes stacked up on the steps of two stairways and enough to fill a spare upstairs bedroom. My uncle called us potato eaters for a long time."

He goes through this story, talking about Sunday dinners and how they preserved food for winter by sun-drying their tomatoes to make tomato paste.

It was a different time then but some things don't change. I wanted to share some "colorful" and healthy recipes that have been getting me through some long training sessions.

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Beets, Chickpeas and Oranges

(recipe from the Gluten-free Goddess blog - here is the link -

If you are looking for the power meal - look no further, this has beets to help us with endurance, complete protein with quinoa and chickpeas and some Vitamin C with the Oranges. I love this meal - I make the whole recipe and use it for some recovery meals after swim, bike or run.

Lemon Herb Salad with Artichokes and Avocado
This salad is my latest favorite and pick-me up. I either add Roasted chicken, grilled chicken, white fish, or chickpeas for some added protein. The fresh herbs and lemon really make this a "happy" salad. I couldn't help but smile when I ate this and then repeated it for about 3-4 times that week...

Spring Mix
Chopped scallions
Chopped basil, dill, cilantro and flat leaf parsely
Chopped avocado
Canned artichokes in brine
Olive Oil
Sea Salt

I literally just squirt a lemon on the salad, a few swirls of olive oil and sea salt and pepper. It is amazing!

Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti Squash
Cherry tomatoes
Artichokes in brine
Balsamic Onions (I used Trader Joe's frozen in a bag)
Yellow peppers
Olive Oil
Dried Spices (red pepper, parsely)
Flat leaf parsely

Roast a spaghetti squash. 1/2 the squash, scoop out flesh, rub olive oil and seasoning. Place squash face down in about an inch of water and roast at 375 for about 45 min.

In the meantime, saute onions, garlic, peppers, cherry tomatoes.

Use a fork to make "spaghetti" from the squash, add veggies, and fresh basil, parsely and scallions.

Very delicious. I served this with Weyerbacher Double Simco good...

Tempeh Salad and Marinated Aduki Beans

Tempeh Salad
Both of these recipes were adapted from (Clean Food by Terry Walters)
1 8oz tempeh
1 carrot shredded
1/2 red onion chopped
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1 tablespoon capers
1 tablespoon parsely
2 tablespoon canola low fat mayo (vegan)
salt and pepper

Cut tempeh and steam for 10 min. Remove and allow to cool. Crumble tempeh into small pieces. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

Marinated Aduki Beans
2 cups cooked aduki beans
2 carrots shredded
1/2 red onion
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon fresh ginger
1 teaspoon tamari
1 teaspoon brown rice vinegar
1 teaspoon brown rice syrup

Rinse beans in colander and drain. Place carrots and onions into bowl. Bring 2 cups of water to boil, pour over carrots and onions for a min and drain. Add carrots and onions to beans.

Separate bowl, whisk marinade. Pour over bean mixture and stir. Let sit for 15 min before serving.

Clams and Spaghetti (updated)
One Monday night, I had a hankering for my mom and dad's spaghetti and clams. I had been at Trader Joe's and picked up their canned clams to try them out.

I sauted the garlic and onions in some olive oil, adding some crushed red pepper. I also added some portabello mushrooms and yellow pepper - they were both close to going bad, little did I know this was the update the old recipe needed. I added the clams, and about a cup of Italian dry white wine. I used something that was also drinkable. I let that simmer for about 15 min while I cooked some wheat pasta.

I added flat leaf parsely and cheese - it was delicious.

Foiled Fish and Veggies

This is probably the easiest on the go recipe you can do. I take a filet of a mild white fish and drizzle with olive oil, sea salt and Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute.

Put that on a large piece of foil.

In a separate bowl take baby spinach, onions, garlic, red onions, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, peppers and add balsamic vinegar and GOOD olive oil and sea salt and pepper. Mix well.

Place salad over fish and wrap up loosely in foil. Place in the oven for about 15-20 min at 350 degrees.


Stay tuned, I am finalizing Volume 3: Spring/Summer Beer List post!!

If you are looking for other fine recipes visit my brother's (@big_onion on twitter) site at MrOnionsNeighborhood - he is the creative one in the family in cooking and makes phenomenal meals!!


  1. Great post!! Your grandpop sounds amazing! And that food looks amazing too, wow!

  2. Nice looking recipes, I'll have to bookmark this page. That's great that your grandpop ate so healthily... I feel like that wasn't the norm then. Nice tribute post.

    I can't waittt to see your spring/summer beer list!


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