This training season I have really been trying to eat ‘clean’ - except on Saturdays after my long runs. Those are my cheat days, and they are the most glorious 12 hours of my life! French-fries, ice cream, pizza…Sorry, I just got lost in a little food porn.
Back to clean eating – which is WAY less exciting. Except for the fact that it IS exciting! It is absolutely AMAZING what our bodies can do when they are fueled and hydrated properly.
At the most basic of definitions clean eating means not putting any processed foods into your body – think sugar, flour and dairy… All the things we are ‘bread’ and conditioned to think we can’t live without in our culture. Milk! It Does a Body Good. Get SIX servings of grains and bread daily! Celebrate EVERY milestone with cake! Beef, It's What's For Dinner!
And marathoners fall into this pitfall as well. Come carbo-load with us at our pasta dinner before your race!
During my first two marathons I ate pasta EVERY Friday night. And I woke-up EVERY Saturday morning and ate a bagel with peanut butter and a banana… And I struggled with sugar drops during EVERY long run!
I heard other runners mention Friday night meals of chicken and baked potatoes, so I thought I’d try it… And I have never had a more dreadful run in my life! I felt hungry from mile three, and I vowed to never eat a baked potato before a long run again!
And that is when someone introduced me to the Sweet Potato!
Sweet Potatoes are usually more akwardly shaped than regular potatoes. While their skin is a redish tone, their insides are bright orange.
I’ve often heard people say that the more colorful your dinner plate (the food on it, anyway), the more healthy your meal. You can’t get much more colorful than the distinct, orange color of the sweet potato! Not only is it LOADED with vitamins – such as the obvious vitamin C – it is FULL of minerals runners need like iron and magnesium! But it’s the potassium that keeps me coming back for more! Potassium is an electrolyte that helps regulate the heartbeat while relaxing muscles and reducing swelling… Is there anything a runner could need more?
The more natural color in the food, the more vitamins & minerals!
Now if you’re anything like me, your view of the sweet potato has long been a disgusting, sticky mush covered with marshmallows at Thanksgiving (except if it’s my sister’s… I’m obligated by blood to say hers are delicious.) Something has just never seemed right with my taste buds to mix a potato with dessert!
But sweet potatoes – although sweet in nature, which is another reason they’re so wonderful for runners… because the natural sugars are released slower and more evenly into the blood stream – don’t have to be prepared that way. One of my FAVORITE Friday night meals includes twice-baked sweet potatoes.
Try them before your next long run, and let me know what you think!
- 1 Sweet Potato
- ½ Tablespoon Olive Oil
- Pinch of Sea Salt (or 2… I LOVE salt!)
- 1 Tablespoon Butter (Or Ghee if you’re looking for a Paleo alternative to butter)
- 1/8 Cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1/8 Cup feta cheese
(Obviously those strictly following ‘clean’ eating to the core would avoid the dairy products, but I’ve always been one to live on the edge – so I put it in there sometimes.)
- Clean sweet potato and puncture with a fork or knife
- Drizzle with olive oil and rub into skin
- Sprinkle with sea salt
- Bake at 400 degrees for about an hour
- Remove from oven and slice in half the length of the potato
- Using a spoon, scoop out the center flesh of the potato leaving a little flesh around the edges.
- Place the potato skins back in the oven heated to 430 degrees for 20 minutes
- While the skins are crisping, combine your scooped out potato with your butter, Greek yogurt and cheese
- Remove the skins from the oven, refill and return to the oven for 5 minutes