By Amanda Burrill, MS
The holidays are approaching and out to try and derail your diet, but there are ways around it! For example, go hide and don’t come out until January. Just kidding. We welcome the fall flavors of rich candied sweet potato, pumpkin, and the associated spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves (or pumpkin pie spice for the lazy ones) without fear.
I made a shake this month with a tart and tangy twist as a fresh play on an old classic: sweet potato pie. Most anyone on top of their meal-prep game has sweet potatoes hanging around. When I was prepping for my first competition and eliminated candy, sweet potatoes probably saved my sanity.
The key ingredients of this recovery shake capture fall’s colors, right down to the healthy fat we’re toying with this month: red palm oil. This rich, buttery culinary oil’s color reveals its abundance of antioxidant vitamins A and E. Further experimentation with this ingredient proved it to be a great additive to soups and sautées and stir-frys. You can even pop popcorn in it—much like coconut oil—to get a tasty twist on an otherwise bland snack.
This concoction satisfies that protein-carb requirement after a great workout. And if you’re hitting it high intensity, these starchy sweet potato carbs are a more direct replenishment of muscle glycogen than fruit carbs. Honestly, I don’t know how bodybuilders would survive without sweet potatoes. I don’t toss religious rhetoric around, but they’re certainly proof of a higher power.
This protein smoothie reminds of me the batter of sweet potato pie before you bake it. Wait, you don’t usually taste batters with raw eggs? Sissy.
1 small container Greek yogurt (about 5 ounces)
½ roasted sweet potato (about ½ cup)
1 teaspoon red palm oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon clove
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
Water to thin, if necessary
Total: 374 calories, 30 g carbs, 37 g protein, 11 g fat, 4 g fiber
Combine all ingredients in a blender, beginning with the liquid to avoid sticky protein-powder clumps. Blend until smooth.
We know that sweet potatoes are revered for their beta carotene content, just look at that bright hue. But how about that fiber? They contain twice the amount as other types of potatoes. This high fiber content moves slowly through your system so their caloric energy gets burned much more efficiently. They also contain choline, a nutrient that helps muscle movement and assists in maintaining the structure of cellular membranes.
Red Palm Oil
First off, let’s get this straight: Red palm fruit oil is different than palm kernel oil. The red oil is derived from the fruit of the oil palm tree and is, you guessed it, red. The kernel oil is derived from the seed and is very high in saturated fat. The red palm oil from the fruit has been used by many civilizations, going back to ancient Egyptians. The red in the “good” palm oil is evidence of its high carotene content, the same antioxidants that give tomatoes and carrots their rich coloring. But red palm fruit oil contains even more and also provides tocotrienols, which are a powerful form of vitamin E.
Those crazy Egyptians—cinnamon goes back to them, too! While it used to be a rare gift fit for a king, it’s now nice and cheap. This fragrant spice is well known for lowering blood-sugar levels. Aside from beneficial effects on insulin resistance, it lowers blood sugar in other ways. For example, studies show the spice decreases the amount of glucose that goes into the bloodstream after a meal by interfering with digestive enzymes, slowing the carb breakdown through the digestive tract. The inner bark of a tree never tasted so good!