By Ali Lopez
As I was thinking about what my next blog post should be about, I realized I have yet to post about one of my favorite foods: the humble white potato. I have written a post on sweet potatoes, so now it’s time for my other favorite. Potatoes sometimes get a bad rap, but when prepared wisely can be an awesome addition to your diet. And for runners, potatoes offer a bunch of other benefits.
For many of us, pasta is the traditional pre-race meal. And for good reason: pasta is high in carbs, easy to prepare and delicious. But I bet you didn’t know that a fresh potato contains all the complex carbs contained in a plate of pasta, plus a bunch of vitamins and minerals that pasta lacks. In addition to being an excellent source of carbs, a potato contains a ton of vitamin C, and more potassium than a banana.
Potatoes make a great choice for dinner the night before a long run or hard workout. My pre-long run dinner is often a baked or mashed potato with some vegetables and an egg on top – and this meal leaves me feeling energized for my run, not heavy like a big meal of pizza or pasta might. You can top them with your favorite protein.
You can even eat potatoes as your pre-race or pre-long run breakfast! A simple baked or boiled potato with salt will give you the carbs and electrolytes to fuel your running, and it’s easy to digest, so less chance of GI issues on the run.
I also like to use potatoes as my fuel DURING my long runs. Sometimes I boil or roast some little potatoes, give them a good sprinkle of salt, and then pop them in a plastic bag to take on my run. Another option that is yummy is to put mashed potatoes (heavy on the salt and easy on the butter and cream please) in a snack-size Zip-loc and squeeze them out just like a gel! Sounds weird, but so good!
Since potatoes are easy to prepare and easy on the tummy, they make for a great option after a run when you may not have much of an appetite. Add some cottage cheese, yogurt, beans, eggs or chicken for protein to help your muscles recover. In fact, at the Famous Idaho Potato Marathon in Boise, Idaho, runners are offered a baked potato bar with a variety of healthy toppings post-race!
And, yes—you still can eat French fries. Just not as often. Or try my recipe for roasted and smashed potatoes. Amazing.
Crispy Smashed Potatoes
2 pounds small round potatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Place the potatoes in a pot and fill it with cold water. Bring the water to a boil. Simmer the potatoes until they are just barely fork tender. Drain the potatoes and let them cool slightly. Toss potatoes with a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a bowl. Then place the potatoes on a baking sheet. Use your hand or a fork to gently smash them, trying to keep them in one piece. Drizzle a little more olive oil over the potatoes. Sprinkle the potatoes with the salt and pepper. Place the sheet in the oven and roast the potatoes for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden and crispy.
Here is a new recipe that I have been having fun with, pre-run and also during my runs. You can use leftover mashed potatoes or cook up a batch just for this recipe.
Mashed Potato Tortillas
1/2 cup mashed potato (cooled)
1/4 cup flour (you might need more if your taters had milk and butter in them first)
Olive oil, butter or coconut oil for cooking
Salt and pepper, to taste (depends on if your mashed potatoes had salt already in them.
Mix your potatoes with the flour. It works best to use your hands to knead the flour into the potatoes. Depending on how creamy your mashed potatoes are, you may need to add more flour until you get a doughy consistency. Work in small amounts of additional flour at a time until you have a soft, but firm ball.
Divide the ball in two. Flour a surface, or work between two sheets of plastic wrap, to roll the ball into a thin disc. Add a little oil or butter to a skillet on medium heat. Cook the disc for about two or three minutes on both sides, until the potato is golden. Repeat with the second disc. Eat warm or save for later.
You can have fun with these and add flavorings to the dough, or my favorite is to spread peanut butter or avocado on it and fold it for an awesome pre-race breakfast or during-the- run snack!
Have a fueling question for Ali? Post it below in the comments section or email MRG with your healthy-eating questions at heather [at] michiganrunnergirl [dot] com
You can listen to a conversation about running and eating between Ali and Heather on this MRG podcast.