the VEGGIE page

“Tassie based triathlete Joe Gambles has a couple of nicknames – The Gambles, Smokin’ Joe, Tofu Joe. He surely is smokin’, breaking course records such as 2010 Ironman Wisconsin, but Tofu Joe? It’s not cause he’s soft around the edges – far from it. He’s just 100% vegetarian.” Ironman’s Fittest, May 6, 2011 Yahoo! Lifestyle


Most days I finish training between 3&4 and I definitely need to refuel, so I usually have a recovery drink and then a late afternoon snack.

Protein Powder Whey
Shake Base Milk
Afternoon Snack Muesli with Fruit and Milk
Protein Powder Plant Based Blend
Shake Base Hemp Milk
Afternoon Snack Hummus Wrap with Homemade Quinoa Burger and Veggies


I try to keep lunch easy and quick but I need a lot of calories by this time of the day. This is also the meal I’m trying to pay more attention to because I tend to just grab something from the fridge and fill up even if it’s not that nutritious.

Lunch Option 1  Bagel, Egg and Cheese
Lunch Option 2  Grilled Cheese and Soup
Lunch Option 3  Avocado Toast with Cheese
Lunch Option 1  Burrito with Brown Rice, Roasted Veggies and Beans
Lunch Option 2  Quinoa Bowl with Veggies, Potatoes, and Bean Salad
Lunch Option 3  Avocado Toast and Garbanzo Mash


After my morning’s training I am pretty hungry but I need to make sure to eat something that is easy to digest since I still have the bulk of the day’s training ahead. Generally I have a protein shake after my hardest session (see below for shake changes) and have a high protein snack after less strenuous sessions.

Mid Morning Meal Option 1  Yogurt, Granola, Fruit
Mid Morning Meal Option 2  Whole Grain Bread, Peanut Butter, Banana, Cinnamon, Honey
Mid Morning Meal Option 3  French Toast, Fruit, Maple Syrup
Mid Morning Meal Option 1  Coconut Yogurt, Vegan Granola, Fruit
Mid Morning Meal Option 2  Whole Grain Bread, Peanut Butter, Banana, Cinnamon,
Mid Morning Meal Option 3  Vegan French Toast (with protein powder), Fruit, Maple Syrup


Cutting out eggs and milk has been the easiest part of transitioning to a vegan diet (I’ll write about cheese in another post). Here are some of the substitutions that I found to be easy on my digestive system and are overall healthier than my previous milk/protein diet.

Protein Powder Whey
Shake Base Milk
Breakfast Eggs, Whole Grain Bread
Protein Powder Plant Based Blend
Shake Base Hemp Milk
Breakfast Oatmeal, Peanut Butter, Coconut Milk, Fruit, Hemp Seeds, Pepitas


As a lifelong vegetarian, animal rights have always been important to me, but recently I decided to take this a step further and cut dairy and eggs from my diet. Being a professional athlete who trains 25-30 hours a week, 51 weeks of the year, changing my diet has to be gradual as I track the effect it has on my training and recovery. I wouldn’t consider myself a full “vegan” yet but I’ve already noticed that making the switch from dairy to plant based products has been easier on my digestive system which means I can recover faster between sessions and train harder when it counts. Follow this blog and my journey as an endurance athlete fueled on a plant based diet. 



My wife makes the best vegetarian and vegan food I’ve ever had so I’d be lying if I said all these recipes were mine, but since I do all her taste testing and cleaning up, she’s given me permission to use them. As with all the cooking in our house we buy organic, cook with whole foods, use cast iron pans, and limit the amount of plastic and cans whenever possible.

Quinoa Burgers 

My Mum recently sent me this recipe and I found it’s really good to keep a batch in the fridge and then fry up one or two for my afternoon snack. There’s a lot of variations you can make with this recipe but I found they don’t really hold together well so I make them into Falafel sized balls instead of burgers.

1/2 Cup Cooked Quinoa

1Tbs Tomato Paste

1 Cup Black Beans

1 Cup Corn

1/4 Cup Chopped Onion

1 Clove Garlic

1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs

Olive Oil

Chili Powder

Salt, Pepper, to taste

Mix everything together and put in the fridge for at least an hour. Form into balls and fry until brown on the outside.

Mushroom Farro Risotto 

This recipe is not going to be exact, so you might need to adjust ingredients to your liking. It goes well with Field Roast Italian Vegan Sausage and you can mix it up with different types of mushrooms.

2 Medium Leeks

2 Cloves of Garlic

1 Quart White Mushroom

1 Quart Cremini Mushroom

1-2 Cups of dry Farro

2-3 Cups Veggie Stock

1-3 Cups Water

Salt and Pepper

2-3 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast

Fresh or Dried Thyme

In large stew pot, saute Garlic in olive oil, be sure not to brown. Slice leeks down center and cut into half rounds. Wash well and add to garlic, cook until soft. Cut mushrooms in quarters and add to leeks, saute for 2 minutes. Add dry Farro to pot and stir constantly for 2 minutes. Add warm Veggie Stock just enough to cover Farro. Add Salt and Pepper then leave uncovered and stir occasionally. Periodically add Stock or Water so that it is always just above the Farro. Cook 40-60 minutes, the time will depend on the Farro so try occasionally and season to taste with Fresh or Dry Thyme and Nutritional Yeast when almost done. The dish should have a risotto texture but the Farro will have a slight bite and never be as soft as rice.

Vegan Pesto

My go to pre-race meal is Gnocchi with Pesto. Sage also likes to make this for our son as a way to get him to eat veggies without realizing it.

2-3 cups Fresh Basil (large stems removed)

1 cup Fresh Kale or Spinach

3 Tbsp Cashew nuts (or walnuts)

1 Large Clove Garlic (roasted)

Tbsp Nutritional Yeast

Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil

Roast garlic in oven safe covered dish on low (275F) until soft. In a food processor or small blender, add the basil, kale or spinach, nuts, garlic, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper and blend/mix on high until a loose paste forms. Add olive oil a little at a time and scrape down sides as needed. If needed add 1 Tbsp of water until the desired consistency is reached. Taste and adjust flavor as needed. Store leftover paste topped with olive oil and tightly covered in the refrigerator up to 1 week.

Garlic Beans

We eat these beans as a side when I need a bit more protein with dinner, or an immune boost. They are best served with bread but they can be added to pasta or made into a dip.

Cannellini Beans

2-3 cloves of Garlic

Fresh Italian Parsley

Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper

Preheat oven to 275. Mix beans, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper, careful not to break beans. Put in oven safe dish with cover. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until garlic is roasted, stir once. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Add chopped parsley, more olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Beans and garlic should be soft enough to spread easily on bread not dried out or broken.

Veggie Pie

1 Large Leek

1 Red Pepper

Bunch of Asparagus

12 Mushrooms

Handful of Brussel Sprouts

Half Butternut Squash

Vegan Pie Dough

Salt and Pepper to taste

Slice leek in half, wash well and cut into half rounds, saute in olive oil. CUBE butternut squash and add to leeks, cook for 10 minutes, salt pepper to taste. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425, chop the rest of the vegetables and ROAST for 3-5 minutes.

Add veggies to leeks and squash and saute for one minute adding salt and pepper to taste. Make sure there is no excess moisture in veggie mixture, if so then drain. Cover a baking pan with parchment paper, roll out dough and place on paper, put veggies in center, turn up sides and pinch. BAKE for 20 minutes or until brown.

Sage’s Veggie Chili – my favorite winter meal

Fresh Chili Peppers (Jalapeno, Habanero, any kind if you want extra spice)

1 Clove Garlic

1 Large Onion

1 Red Pepper

1 Green Pepper

2 tbs Tomato paste

Chili Powder, Salt, Pepper, Sugar to Taste

48 oz Crushed/Chopped Tomato

30 oz Black Beans

30 oz Kidney Beans

1 cup Frozen Corn

Brown Rice or Shell pasta

Cilantro and Fresh Jalapeno

Chop fresh chilis with or without seeds depending on your heat tolerance (cut chilis CAREFULLY, wash your hands, knife and cutting board after handling fresh chilis) saute in olive oil with chopped garlic STIR constantly until peppers are soft and be sure not to brown the garlic. Then TAKE most of it out, you may have made that too spicy and it’s best to add it back in bit by bit.

Add chopped onion and cook until translucent, then add chopped red and green peppers. Cook for 2-3 minutes. On MEDIUM heat, add tomato paste and stir for one minute, then add 1 tbs of chili powder and stir until all combined. Add chopped or crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper and 1/2 tsp of sugar then let cook on low, covered for 30-60 minutes. TASTE the chili occasionally and add more powder, fresh chilis, salt or pepper.

Add half the beans and cook for another 30-60 minutes. Once it tastes done add the rest of the beans and the corn. You can let it sit until you are ready to eat or let it sit overnight for the best taste. Serve over brown rice or shells, with fresh jalapeno and cilantro on top.

Sage has been working on perfecting the taste for this chili for 20 years, that said Chili is all about personal preference so her advice is to do everything to taste.

A lot of people are surprised when they find out I race professionally fueled by a vegetarian diet. This page is an opportunity to answer some questions and share thoughts on the subject. To get things started, here are the answers to the Top Ten most common questions I get about being a vegetarian professional triathlete.


  1. Do you eat chicken?
    No, it’s meat.
  2. Do you eat fish?
    No, it’s meat.
  3. Do you eat dairy?
    I’m vegetarian not vegan.
  4. How do you get your protein?
    A combination of whole foods including beans, grains and dairy.
  5. How long have you been a vegetarian?
    All my life.
  6. Have you ever tried meat?
    No and thankfully I’ve never eaten at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant either.
  7. Why don’t you eat meat?
    There are a lot of proven benefits to eliminating meat in your diet, but for me it’s simply the fact that I like animals too much to eat them.
  8. Is your iron low?
    That’s kind of a personal question, but no my levels are fine thank you.
  9. Isn’t it hard to race one of the toughest sports in the world and train at a high altitude being a vegetarian?
    After 20 years in the sport so far, I believe what you choose to fuel your body with is just as important as anything else you do to prepare. For me this is a a vegetarian diet and it is the best way to handle the stress my body experiences through training, and maximizes my potential come race day.
  10. Do you know Dave Scott?
    Yes, but I saw him eat some meat and I told him I can’t be friends anymore. He still calls me sometimes…

European cuisine isn’t always compatible with a Vegetarian diet. It’s especially hard because I don’t speak any language other than english and not all restaurants have the same definition for “Vegetarian” food. Another challenge in Spain is that people eat really late and typical restaurant hours often conflict with training before noon the next day, so we cook a lot at home. Luckily, the food is extremely fresh and the standards are generally high so there is an abundance of seasonal fruits and veggies along with cheap wine and fresh bread. For more about eating and training in Spain check out my Wife’s blog here.



Cooper waiting patiently outside our local market



A typical head of organic lettuce here is twice the size of the ones at Whole Foods in Boulder



Broad beans have been a winter staple, Sage likes to make them in spicy tomato sauce, I’m not sure why



This was our first attempt at tortilla espanola, you have to cut the potatoes smaller, we’ve improved a lot



This is the best chocolate I’ve ever had



A typical dinner (we’ve cut down on the cheese though)