Kelly McDonald, adagio/acrobatic artist with Cirque du Soleil's "Luzia" makes it a point to eat healthy meals throughout the day. The athlete/artist maintains a disciplined eating and training regiment while on tour.

McDonald is currently in Chicago performing in Cirque's "Luzia" production. The show runs through Sept. 3 under the white-and-gold Big Top in the parking lot of Chicago's United Center.

We recently talked to McDonald about her diet and interest in food and cooking.

How often do you eat?

I try to eat often. Depending on my schedule and the shows I'm performing on certain days, I try to think ahead about eating before I need to eat. It's important to look at the full day and the training (schedule) and figure out how long I need to digest my food.

How long before a show must you eat?

I like to eat about an hour before. I get the energy I need and then I don't feel the food. And if you don't schedule when you're going to eat, you might lose the opportunity.

What's your philosophy about eating and cooking?

It's really all about eating more often and in moderation. I'll also eat more meals more often if I'm training throughout the day. In the morning, I'll have oatmeal with raisins, almond milk and cinnamon. Then I may go for a run and do a workout. And then I'll have an early lunch. I visit the salad bar (in the Cirque kitchen tent) every time I go in there. After the shows, I'll eat something small. You don't want to eat too much so late.

What do you enjoy cooking?

I cook quinoa a lot. I make an easy quinoa bowl with chicken breasts, carrots, celery, avocado and tomatoes.

How did you learn to cook?

I learned my way around the kitchen from my mother. My dad was the barbecue master. I started off making spaghetti. I come from a family of four kids and we each had to make a meal a week while growing up. It's important for me to eat clean. My parents always had (healthy) clean meals. They never would cook heavy foods. I grew up an athlete and I knew (what foods) made me feel good.

The following is a recipe from McDonald.

Kelly’s Easy Quinoa and Kale Bowl

I love using quinoa as the base for lots of different meal options. Here is a recipe for a quick and clean lunch.

1 cup water

1/2 cup dry/uncooked quinoa

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups chopped kale

Juice of 1/2 lemon

 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast

1 Tablespoon olive oil

2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 stalk celery, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1/2 avocado, sliced

DIRECTIONS: In a small saucepan, combine water, quinoa and salt. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 12 minutes. Add kale on top. Cover and cook an additional 3 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Add lemon juice.

While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the chicken. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet on medium heat. Add chicken, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Cook until golden on both sides and cooked through. Remove from heat and allow to cool a little, slice into 1-inch strips.

Combine quinoa and chicken with the rest of the ingredients. Enjoy warm or cold. Share with a friend or save some for another day.

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