By Ali Lopez
Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite foods. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks — you name it and I can find a way to eat them! There’s something so nourishing about them, beyond the nutrients inside. Of course, the nutrients inside definitely help. I find them awesome for both pre- and post-run food. You’ve probably heard how the most brightly colored vegetables contain the most nutrition? Well, bright, orange sweet potatoes are winners in that department!
Sweet potatoes are high in antioxidants, vitamin A and vitamin C, digestive-friendly fiber, electrolyte balancing potassium and magnesium, and minerals like copper, manganese, and B vitamins that keep our blood sugars balanced and our bodies fighting inflammation. And yes, they are so versatile and taste amazing.
Here are just a few ways you can gobble ‘em up!
I like to bake a bunch of sweet potatoes at once and keep them in the fridge for pre-run and post-run meals. Here’s how: You can bake your sweet potatoes at night while the oven is on for whatever you are cooking for dinner, or do it whenever you have some time. My method is to wash them, poke some holes and put on a lined baking tray (you can also wrap in foil.) I usually bake them at 400 degrees for about 45-60 minutes. Baking time depends on the size of the potato.
And now for some eating ideas:
Pre run: I like to eat a plain baked sweet potato cold or heated, sometimes adding a spoonful of coconut oil or nut butter (if I have a longish run.)
Sweet Potato Breakfast Mash (pictured above)
1 sweet potato, baked and mashed
1 teaspoon coconut oil, melted
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
chia or hemp seeds or ground flaxseeds
raisins, dried cranberries, cherries, or other fruit
¼ mashed avocado
1/2 mashed banana
walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds
Optional topping: a fried or poached egg!
In a medium bowl, mash together the sweet potatoes, coconut oil, cinnamon and salt. Reheat (or not) in a small pan or in microwave. Finish with mix ins of your choice and serve. You can also top this with a fried egg for the ultimate indulgence and a nutritional bonus!
And here is an easy one bowl post-run lunch or dinner:
Sweet Potato Burrito Bowl
1 sweet potato, baked and mashed
1/2 cup black, pinto or kidney beans, cooked
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
pinch of salt
1-2 cups baby spinach
Optional toppings: (all or some of them)
1/4- 1/2 of an avocado, diced or mashed
1 tablespoon of greek yogurt
chopped fresh tomatoes or salsa
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
Warm the sweet potato, top with spinach. Heat the beans with chili powder and salt to taste. Pour beans on top of potato (the heat of the beans should wilt the spinach). Top with any or all of the optional toppings. Eat!
You can also put all these ingredients in a tortilla and have a delicious portable post-run burrito!
Another easy way to get you sweet potato fix is Baked Sweet Potato Fries … yum!
Just cut the sweet potato into wedges, toss with melted coconut oil and bake at 425 for 30 minutes or until yummy and browned. Top with sea salt as soon as they come out of the oven. And here is an awesome dipping sauce:
2 tablespoons almond butter
2 tablespoons REAL maple syrup
1 tablespoon awesome mustard of your choice
mix together and dip sweet potatoes in it… or drink it straight (just kidding… sort of!)
Okay… here is one more delicious way to enjoy sweet potatoes… great post-run dinner!
Ali’s Power Bowl
1 cup quinoa
2-3 Tbsp olive oil or melted coconut oil
1 red onion, sliced
1 large sweet potatoes, large dice
1 head broccoli or cauliflower, small florets and peeled chopped stems (about 4 cups)
salt and pepper, to taste
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas or 2 cups cooked, drained and dry
1 teaspoon curry powder, optional
1/2 cup tahini
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1 lemon, juiced
A few Tbsp hot water to thin
To cook quinoa: In a large, dry saucepan, toast the quinoa over medium heat for 4-5 minutes or until the grains smell nutty. Add 2 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the pan, then give it a good stir. Bring the liquid to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for about 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 and arrange sweet potatoes and onions on a baking sheet. Drizzle both with a bit of oil, making sure they are well coated. Put broccoli on another baking sheet, drizzle with oil, season with salt and pepper and bake for 10-15 minutes, flip, return to oven and continue to cook until potatoes are softened, onions are browned and broccoli is crispy.
While vegetables are roasting, heat a skillet over medium heat, add chickpeas to the pan with a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper and curry powder (if using). Once the chickpeas are warmed, and slightly crispy remove from heat and set aside.
Prepare sauce by adding tahini, maple syrup and lemon juice to a small bowl and whisk to combine. Add hot water until a pourable sauce is formed. Set aside.
To serve: Put quinoa in a bowl. Top with potatoes, onions and broccoli. Drizzle with tahini sauce.
Have a fueling question for Ali? Post it below in the comments section or email MRG with your healthy-eating questions at michiganrunnergirl [at] gmail [dot] com
Ali will answer your questions in upcoming columns here on MRG. You can read her post about the Power of Smoothies, here » She’s also written about superfoods and shares a great recipe for kale salad here »
Ali Lopez is a northern Michigan runner, chef and health coach. You can learn more about her at her web site Healthy Chef Ali. She’s also on Facebook here »
You can listen to a conversation about running and eating between Ali and Heather on a recent MRG podcast episode here »
Ali will be sharing her culinary expertise at the Michigan Runner Girl Weekend April 22-24 at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. Learn more about this awesome weekend up north and get registered by clicking here »