Sweet Potato, More Than Yams from a Can

“True healthcare reform starts in your kitchen, not in Washington”  ~Anonymous

Hello fellow 1/2 marathoners!!!  The above statement came to me while having a conversation with some friends one night that included a mixture of politics and healthcare.  I thought it a good statement to start my first nutritional email to YT because all of YOU are the perfect example of how Americans need to start taking responsibility for their own health, not the Doctors and certainly not the Government!  Now then…on a much lighter note:

I loved Mel’s email regarding food this morning.  I also remember being forced to eat my ‘canned’ vegetables as a child only to find out 20 years later they weren’t any better for me than the meatloaf and mashed potatoes they sat next to.  Not only will we embark on a journey over the next few weeks of challenging our minds and bodies to new athletic experiences, but you will be challenged to try new foods, clean out the pantry, take extra time to read food labels and get into your kitchen and love, love, love the exercise of chopping, cooking and creating!  Not only can you feel better, but you can inspire your friends and family to get on board too!

Hey Mel, speaking of yams…here are a few thoughts and ideas on how versatile that lovely nutritious, fiber luscious food can be.

What is a sweet potato?:

They have a much denser nutritional profile than the typical potato making them an excellent source of antioxidants, (vitamins and enzymes) phytonutrients,  and minerals (iron, potassium, copper and manganese)

Want to dig a little deeper?….well antioxidants and phytonutrients are the compounds that not only provide many vegetables with their intense color (beta carotene for the orange) but also protect them as they grow.  These phytonutrients help protect YOUR health as well.  These different types of phytonutrients work together to provide a powerful antioxidant protection from cellular damage to your cardiovascular, immune, respiratory and central nervous systems.  So it’s obvious right?, the more vegetables you eat, the more phytonutrients you consume and benefit from, including recovering from those hard workouts!  The word enzyme might be new to some.  Enzymes are mainly proteins that are crucial for proper digestion, fights free radicals (cancer cells, etc) and cellular growth.  Many people complain that they have a hard time losing weight, fighting off inflammation or often feel bloated.  Many studies have concluded that diets rich in foods with a high enzyme content (fruits and vegetables) have less problems associated with weight, inflammation and proper digestion.

So what does this have to do with 1/2 marathon training?…. Everything.  Let’s go back to the sweet potato.  A sweet potato can be a great snack, recovery food or meal if paired with the right foods.  For example, throw some diced sweet potatoes into your salad with some nuts and seeds and black beans for a complete healthy lunch.  Mash a potato with 1tbs. of maple syrup, 1/4 cup of dried cherries, pumpkin pie spices and some nuts and seeds (pumpkin or sunflower) for a great dessert, trying substituting some 1/2 of the butter from a cookie recipe with mashed sweet potato…your kitchen is your science lab…try different things…challenge yourself to make something healthier.

Let’s talk Preparation:  Believe it or not, how you prepare your vegetables has a lot to do with how well they are absorbed into your body with optimum nutrients.  Steaming or boiling diced sweet potatoes for about 5-7 minutes is more healthy than broiling or baking. Studies have shown that different ways of cooking your vegetables changes their chemistry.  For the lovely sweet potato it is it’s carbohydrate content.  If over cooked or broiled or baked it increased the GI (glycemic value) and lowers the nutrient density.  Therefore steaming will have a much better effect on blood sugar effects (another conversation) and will give you more stable levels of energy throughout the day.

So I could go into the history of the sweet potato now…or maybe not.  Below are some really good recipes that have been tried and tested!  I will try to send some of the lovely ‘sweet potato cookie’ to the next run for sampling.  My goal for you is to making cooking fun, easy and nutritious.  So here are some things (more than some, just scan through and see the possibilities) you can do to incorporate the healthy sweet potato into your diet:

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Basic Steamed Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb sweet potatoes, diced (if organic, do not peel)
  • 2 cloves chopped or press garlic
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 TBS extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Fill bottom of steamer with 2 inches of water.
  2. While steam is building up press or chop garlic and let sit for at least 5 minutes to bring out more of its health-promoting properties.
  3. Cut potatoes in half and cut into 1/2″ slices. You do not neet to peel if they are organic.
  4. Steam sweet potaotes for no more than 7 minutes.
  5. Transfer to a bowl. For more flavor, toss sweet potatoes with the remaining ingredients and any of the optional ingredients you desire while they are still hot.

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Sweet Potato breakfast or dessert Casserole:

1/2 cup mashed left over sweet potatoes (without the garlic) from the above recipe

1 cup of cooked quinoa

1/4 cup milk or unsweetened almond milk
1 tbs. chia seeds
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
dash of ginger and sea salt to taste (more sea salt if using as a recovery food)
1 tbs. agave nectar, honey or molasses
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups raspberries, strawberries or blueberries (any combo of mixed berries)
1/4 cup pecans 2

Directions

Mash together quinoa, pumpkin and milk. Once incorporated, add chia seeds, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, agave and vanilla. Stir to combine. When ready to serve, reheat and then top with some additional milk, fruit and pecans. (add some cocoa powder and an extra tbs. of honey for a fun healthy dessert treat later in the day)

Nutritional Information: (Makes 2 Servings) Calories: 362, Fat: 15g, Carbohydrates: 51g, Fiber: 14, Sugar: 15g, Protein: 10g, Vitamin A 382%, Calcium: 14%, Iron: 17%, Vitamin C: 36%

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Sweet Potatoes and eggs:

Takes some left over sweet potatoes and toss them with some other leftover vegetables like asparagus, peppers, onions, etc.

Top with an over easy egg and a slice of whole wheat toast for an energizing easy breakfast.

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Sweet Potatoes As aside Dish:

Top basic steamed sweet potato recipe with chopped fresh rosemary and ground pumpkin seeds (grind in a coffee grinder or blender)

or

Toss your potatoes and some other vegetables of any seasonal sort with some coconut oil and chopped cilantro

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SWEET POTATO COOKIESThis is a favorite healthy treat!  An afternoon snack or grab a couple for an athletic recovery food.  These cookies are more nutrient and fiber dense than a typical treat, with less calories to boot.

 

1c mashed cooked sweet potatoes (I put them in my blender with the skins on)

3tbsp. canola oil

1 tbsp. maple syrup

1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour, sifted (I use King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour…you can find it at Meijer… same health benefits as whole wheat just a different grain that makes for a lighter texture..nice healthier substitute for white flour)

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. ground nutmeg (Freshly ground preferred)

1/2 (about) of dried fruit like dried cranberries or cherries or sunflower seeds or walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place parchment paper on baking sheet.

Combine sweet potatoes, oil, vinegar, syrup, and salt in large bowl.  Sift in the flour, baking powder and nutmeg.

Cut dry ingredients into sweet potato mixture with a fork until the mixture comes together.

Roll out the dough and cut with a 1 1/2 inch round cutter.

Place on prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes

Makes about 14-15 biscuits, about 50 calories per biscuit

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1) Smoked Salmon Salad (A little more work, but worth the effort)

This is one of my favorite salads and it’s a complete meal. It can be made a day ahead and refrigerated; just don’t toss the salad with the salmon and dressing until you’re ready to serve. Look for smoked salmon in 4-ounce packs in your deli department or use canned smoked salmon (found by the tuna fish). (8 servings)

Prep Time: 30minutes

Ingredients:

2 cups sweet potato, chopped into 1/2-inch cubes

1 tablespoon no-salt Cajun seasoning

1 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons low-sodium tamari

6 cups mixed salad greens (3–4 ounces), washed and dried

1/2 red bell pepper, sliced

1/2 yellow bell pepper, sliced

1/4 small red onion, very thinly sliced

6 sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced

1 3-ounce packet of salad sprouts

3/4 cup pecans, chopped

6-8 ounces smoked salmon (not lox) or canned salmon works well and is faster

Dressing

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

Dash of black pepper

1 teaspoon agave nectar

Directions:

  • Steam cubed sweet potatoes until cooked but not mushy, about 8 minutes. Place in a bowl to cool for about 10 minutes.
  • Sprinkle Cajun seasoning, olive oil, and tamari over sweet potatoes (putting into a freezer bag and shaking it works well and can double as a storage container too if you use this recipe for multiple meals).
  • Place salad greens in a large salad bowl. Add sliced red and yellow peppers, red onion, sun-dried tomatoes, and sprouts. Add cooled sweet potatoes and pecans. Cut salmon into bite-size pieces and add or mash canned into small pieces.
  • Combine all dressing ingredients and blend well. Pour over salad and toss gently. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information: 241 cal, 65% fat cal, 18g fat, 2g sat fat, 5mg chol, 7g protein, 15g carb, 3g fiber, 345mg sodium

Happy Training! I looking forward to embarking on this 1/2 marathon quest with you!!!

If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it! Common Sense

“Now there are more overweight people in America than average-weight people. So overweight people are now average. Which means you’ve met your New Year’s resolution.”  ~Jay Leno

Amy Rummel

 

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