Review | Sweet Potatoes

Review | Sweet Potatoes

A review of sweet potatoes, a must have food for any grappler.

Summary:

This tuber is not your typical boring, starchy potato. In reality sweet potatoes are Mother Nature’s gift to grapplers and athletes alike. They get a lot of attention in the health food world but just because a food is healthy does not mean it doesn’t taste good, it is quite the opposite when it comes to these bad boys! In this review of sweet potatoes we look into the health benefits, why its such a powerhouse and I give you one of my favorite badass recipes.

 General Information

Sweet potatoes come in many shapes and colors and can be found in most all super markets and are even now popping up in tiny corner stores that don’t even sell name brand soda products. I feel that it is important to practice what you preach and I wouldn’t tell you to do something I haven’t done myself. So this review is with the most generic and commonly found sweet potato in mind, the maroon skinned and brightly orange fleshed variety.

When is the best time to eat sweet potatoes?

Time of year: Sweet potatoes are available year round but in reality there is a season for them. Their primary season, aka when they taste the best and will be the cheapest, is November through early January.

Time of ingestion: If you read the Your Inner Campfire post you will know that there is a time and place to eat any certain time of item to get the most gains from it. Sweet potatoes are a great source of many nutrients. So lets break it down:

Check out this pedigree this contender.
Check out this pedigree this contender.

Based on the figures, we can tell that sweet potatoes primary nutrient would be carbohydrates which our bodies convert into sugar. This will give us either a good boost in the morning or, my personal favorite time to eat them, a good means of recovery after training for dinner. Reason being is that during training your body burns your glycogen which are the sugars dispersed through out your body. So these need to be replenished and a sweet potato is a great source.

Your new favorite training partner.
Your new favorite training partner.

Important to note: To fully absorb the beta-carotene that sweet potatoes or other vegetables contain you need to eat fat with them. The fat acts as a means of transport and absorption. A good rule of thumb when it comes to sweet potatoes is 3 – 5 grams of fat per serving of vegetables.

 Benefits

  • They have a shockingly large amount of beta-carotene, which is what our body converts into Vitamin A.
  • 3 oz of sweet potato will supply us with more than 90% of our daily Vitamin A.
  • Beta-carotene is an antioxidant and vitamin A boosts our immune systems, keeping us healthy on the mats ( and in day to day life…but more importantly, we don’t have to miss training because we got sick.)
  • In addition to beta-carotene sweet potatoes have storage proteins called sporamins, which also act as antioxidants for us while digesting.
  • They have anti-inflammatory qualities, which have shown to improve recovery of brain tissue and nerve tissues. This is very crucial when in the combat sports so any chance to get these added benefits the better!
  • Other studies have shown that sweet potato consumption reduced fibrinogen levels which in excess cause blood clotting and the break down of nerve tissues. So as a guy who has had nerve issues from a herniated disc, if anything will help prepare my body to prevent issues in the future I will eat it!

    Gi or no-gi?
    Gi or no-gi?

 Cooking tips and tricks:

Best methods of cooking: Steam, bake, boil, roasted, fried, sauté

Flavor pairings: Cinnamon, clove spice, orange, nutmeg, ginger, apple, banana

Fat pairing: Pecans, walnuts, butter, cream, maple syrup

Time saving tips

Luckily sweet potatoes like all other potatoes store well and for a long time so we don’t have to worry about a short window on which we need to use them. If you instance you bought a bag of them and one week you have sweet potatoes every day, its ok to get sick of them a take a break from them. I like to have them every other day or every third day in my rotation. That way I do not get sick of them.

  • Store sweet potatoes in a cool, dry and well ventilated place, not in the fridge if they are whole. Cold temperatures will alter the taste.
  • Peeled raw sweet potatoes can be kept fully covered with water in the fridge for a length of time.
    Its not rocket science, just hack them up.
    Its not rocket science, just hack them up.
  • Peel, cube and boil for 4 -7 minutes and then drain them and cool in the fridge. You can then store the cooled sweet potatoes in air tight containers for a few days and reheat and use as desired.
  • Preheat an oven to 400 degrees (turn it on and let it warm up.) Split a few sweet potatoes in half or cube and drizzle with a little oil, honey, cinnamon and salt and bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until they are tender. You can eat them immediately, well I mean let them cool so they don’t burn your mouth, or you can cool them down and eat them cold on another day. They stay delicious warm or cold.
  • Cook and puree with a banana and top with walnuts for a delicious mid day snack boost.

Recipe idea:

This recipe is a great way to start out your day and supplies you with all the nutrients you need to power through work and still be pumped or better yet it is a great meal to have pre-training (about an hour before) for an energy boost and lean protein source that won’t leave you feeling sluggish and bogged down! Give it your best shot, and no I don’t mean double leg it.

Id spar with this for breakfast.
Id spar with this for breakfast.

Sweet potato hash and eggs.

Makes 2 servings

INGREDIENTS
Main Components
Sweet potato, peeled, cut into small cubes: 2 medium sized
Water: 1 medium sized pot full
Salt: 1 Tablespoon
Vegetable or coconut oil: 2 Tablespoons
Onion, diced the same size as the potato: 1 small onion
Green bell pepper, seeds removed, diced the same size as the potato: 1 small
Maple syrup: enough to drizzle
Egg, soft boiled, shelled: 4 ea
Salt & Freshly ground black pepper: to taste

METHOD

Main Components

The first step is to pot 1 Tbsp of salt in the pot of water and turn it on high heat to boil. If you cover the pot it will boil faster.

While the water is boiling peel your sweet potatoes and then cut them into small cubes, like a die you find with a board game but smaller.

Cut your onion and green pepper the same size.

Once your water is boiling drop the sweet potatoes in, recover the pot and set a timer for 5 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large non stick pan over medium-high heat. After 20-30 seconds your pan should be hot, add in your onion and peppers with a hit of salt and pepper.

This process is called “sweating.” Similar to weight cutting you are using heat to pull moisture out of the vegetables in the pan. What this results in is paler and aromatic onions and peppers. Similar to a sweaty guy, he gets pale and starts to smell.

Before everything has properly sweated down your potatoes should be done. Once the timer goes off, drain the sweet potatoes into a strainer in your sink. Remember the pot will be hot and always use a DRY towel to grab the handles, also avoid the steam when you are pouring the potatoes into the strainer. Steam burns on the forearms do not feel good in a gi.

Now that our potatoes are cooked crank the heat on our onions and peppers and push everything to one side of the pan.

Now add another tablespoon of oil. You want your pan to be ripping hot here. Add in your potatoes and be patient here and let them just sit and sizzle for 4-5 minutes. You really want to create a nice dark color on them, the dark color you see is the natural sugars in the potatoes being caramelized, which makes them delicious.

Once you have waited and have one nicely colored side use a spatula or a fork to scrape the potatoes off the bottom of the pan and mix the onions and peppers back into them without making mashed sweet potatoes.

Repeat the caramelization processes again until you have a nice and evenly colored hash. This should take another 4 minutes. Once done remove the hash from the pan and onto a plate or into a Chinese take out style container to cool for later consumption. Since this makes 2 large portions its easy to make one portion to eat now and save the other for later.

Cook the eggs as previously show in The Egg post for 3 minutes.

Once deshelled place directly onto the hash and drizzle with maple syrup.

Eat up.

EQUIPMENT
Small pot eggs
Medium pot for boiling water
Strainer
Large non stick pan

PROTIP
Add in some bacon or ground pork sausage just prior to the onion step to make this even more tasty for the off season when you are not worried about eating bacon/sausage. Its delicious.
If you are watching your weight add in store bought smoked salmon that you shred by hand into the caramelization step. Or serve with a seared piece of salmon.

Sweet potatoes are truly a black belt in health benefits.
Sweet potatoes are truly a black belt in health benefits.

Images via: Americastestkitchen
SeasonalFamily
EGL
Iowagirleats
Fitsugar
DHN

One Reply to “Review | Sweet Potatoes”

  1. I’m starting to find that I like sweet potatoes more and more. I’ve cooked them the way you talked about, back that up my husband made them that way and they were amazing. Recently we have been making sweet potato fries. We have one of those little deep fryers and we use coconut oil in it. We peel the sweet potatoes, boil them, and then put them in the fridge to cool. Cut them into thin fries and cook them in the coconut oil. Add a little chipotle Mrs. Dash and Sriricha (for me) and they are awesome. I eat them for lunch after my morning workout and feel like a million bucks.

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