Eat Like an Olympian: Top Ten Veggie Gold Medalists

By Rip Esselstyn   |  21Comments|

When it comes to competing for stellar placement in your grocery cart, consider vegetables to be the equivalent of Olympians—in fact, they are the gold-medal winners. Packed with fiber, macro- and micronutrients, phytochemicals, antioxidants, and other disease-preventing & health-enhancing qualities, they taste great and make you healthy at the same time.

1. Green leafy vegetables: Whether it’s kale, spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens, mustard greens, beet greens, turnip greens, bok choy or Brussels sprouts, these powerful yet graceful vegetables are the Michael Phelps of vegetables! Men, a little secret I’ll let you in on: The more greens you eat, the harder your wood gets. Leafy greens pump up the production of nitric oxide in your blood vessels, which is a potent vasodilator. Ditch the blue pill, and fill up on leafy greens. Cut them up, and toss ‘em in at the last minute to supercharge your soup or pasta! You can steam or stir-fry leafy greens with garlic and lemon juice or with a walnut or cashew sauce.

2. Sweet potatoes: Hearty and satiating, father of Olympic gold medal winner, Usain Bolt, attributes his son’s speed to his favorite food: the Jamaican sweet potato. His son has set two world records in the 100 and 200-meter dashes to show for it! ‘Nuff said. Wrap them up in aluminum foil, and place in the oven or toaster oven for one hour at 400 degrees. Sweet potatoes don’t need a thing; eat ‘em naked.

3. Beets: “Why so serious?” as the Joker would say. Anything that is blood red and can turn your stools a similar hue has every right to be deadly serious. Boil beets in water for 45 minutes or place in the toaster oven for 45-60 minutes. Immediately rinse them off in cold water, and feast your eyes on the beet as the brown outer layer flakes off and a glistening, silky red dermis reveals itself. Remember to cook up the beet greens as well!

4. Romaine lettuce: This robust, leafy green vegetable is a nutritional monster. Use this hearty and hefty lettuce as the foundation in salads instead of nutritionally vacant and boring iceberg lettuce. As an added bonus, Romaine lettuce will keep for several days in the chiller bin of your fridge.

5. Onions: Yeah, they may make your eyes water, but there’s nothing wrong with a few tears–even real men cry when they win a gold medal! Start any stir-fry, soup, or homemade pasta sauce with an onion. They are multi-layered and complex – just like us men.

6. Mushrooms: Technically a fungus, mushrooms are a strange breed, indeed. They come in a variety of weird shapes, sizes, and breeds–white button, shiitake, cremini, Portobello, and oyster to name a few–and all are delicious. Used as a meat substitute in any dish, mushrooms are a (wo-)man’s best friend.

7. Tomatoes: Tomatoes are a gift from the gods. Technically fruits, tomatoes are one badass, versatile food. You can use them in sandwiches, salads, casseroles, appetizers–like decathletes, they can be winners at almost everything.

8. Avocados: Ditch the saturated fat-laden and artery-clogging mayo and butter, and go for the green gold. Avocados are smooth, satisfying, and satiating, and win it all, either as a tasty condiment or a hearty side.

9. Bell Peppers: Red, gold, green, purple and orange, bell peppers make the top ten list due to their color, taste, presentation, and versatility. Whether cut up in pasta primavera sauce, stuffed, stir-fried, tossed in a salad, roasted, or even plain, bell peppers are an Engine 2 favorite and should be in every man’s quiver.

10. Asparagus: Asparagus was prized by the Romans as the vegetable of the Gods and is still valued as such today. Oddly, half of us have a gene that makes our urine stink within minutes after eating it. Ask ten people you know, and five will know what you’re talking about. But it’s a small price to pay for a wonderful veggie that can be eaten hot, cold, in salads, with grains and always makes a special addition to any meal.

Go for the gold!

For more on how to optimize your health, visit Engine2Diet.com

Photo credit: Darwin Bell

Originally published on December 13, 2011

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21 responses to Eat Like an Olympian: Top Ten Veggie Gold Medalists
  1. Great article! Will be sharing with my hubby as he’ll be happy to know what the kale is/can do for him! Love that my naked sweet potato lunch is the second super star on the list. This made me smile and giggle a little too! Informative and funny!

  2. I LOVE mushrooms and always have! i could eat mushrooms three times a day :)

    Thank you very well written!

    P.S. What do mushrooms do for a woman?

  3. awaresome blog post as the thing or topic is amazing

  4. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten kale. I’ll have to try it!

  5. FYI, my girlfriend informs me that asparagus makes your semen taste bitter too.

  6. I have a recipe for a sweet potato soup with a raw sweet potato, coconut milk and curry in the vitamix.

    Is it safe to eat them raw? I hope so because I love this soup, it’s so good!

  7. It is near everything I eat (minus the srooms) – thank goodness!!

    There is just no way those mushrooms are going down. I can mask beets
    in a drink – but yet to find a way to mask the shrooms in anything! Any advice-
    much appreciated.

  8. Thanks for sharing this information! I have incorporated all of these Super Foods into my diet except beets. They make me gag. But, I will try more ways to disguise the taste because I am a cancer killing ninja warrior!

  9. gosh eat those mushrooms, garlic, olive oil and onions and simmer awhile put on anything, brown rice, Sunshine patties, they are just too good for you. But if you truly can’t do it, grind them up and put in cooked beans, like pinto with spices, just do it. With love Lynda

  10. I love each and every food on this list!

  11. I read the following about beets: Cook beets lightly. Studies show beets’ concentration of phytonutrients, such as betalains, is diminished by heat.

    Is this true? Why would one cook beets longer?

    Are beets ok to throw into the juicer?

  12. I read this title as showcasing 10 Olympic athletes that are vegans! Oops!

  13. Christina, I have juiced beets…the taste was a little sttrong for me, but if I can find something else to add to mellow them out I may try juicing again cuz I’d love to be able to have them and don’t like them cooked!

  14. PPK.com has a GREAT beet burger recipe. Shredded raw beets/ cooked brown rice/lentils mixed into a patty and then baked. Really delicious. They have a nice firm veggie burger texture. No mush here! (I use ground oats instead of bread crumbs to make them gluten free too!) (PPK= Post Punk Kitchen)

  15. Great information! :)

  16. Nice article! The one about tomatoes had me laughing. I will have to try all of these veggies!

  17. “Use [romaine] lettuce as the foundation in salads instead of nutritionally vacant and boring iceberg lettuce.”

    Romaine lettuce certainly has greater nutritional density than iceberg lettuce, but it’s false and misleading to describe iceberg lettuce is “nutritionally vacant.” According to the ANDI chart, iceberg lettuce has greater nutritional density than sweet potatoes, avocados, onions, and beets, all of which are featured in this “Top Ten” list.

  18. Fantastic, thanks sooo much,..I’ve just watched food matter movie today and I’m full of inspiration to get back on track with my healthy eating and detoxing … so thankyou Kris, you are an inspiration….I need to stay super healthy and full of energy so i can paint clear and light filled beautiful paintings that help lift peoples spirit … Much love and creative light, Denise x

  19. the entire newsletter is terrific.Kriss i have loved you for years ….what a treat to be getting email news from you..my husband is in remission from leukemia…we teach from joel fuhrmans book but until recently i have hung on to some animal products…the less i eat the healthier i am….you are a huge energy shot…enormous huggs to you!

  20. Fab!! Thanks for the healthy reminder, love me some sweet potato and asparagus! Nom nom nom :)

  21. Great article. Do you ever worry about cooking in aluminum foil? I’m trying to determine if it’s a safe way to cook. Thanks!