Short and Simple: Can Carbs Be “Clean”?

Friends, I’ve fallen off of the bandwagon. Hard. Flash back three and a half months ago. There I was, beginning the school year, starting grad school, running a business in the middle of event season, writing/creating content regularly, and sleeping for a good four hours a night. On top of that, I was running 20 miles a week, and doing two-a-days…like every day. As one can imagine, a body can only tolerate that for so long. By the end of September, I was ready for the holiday season to be over, about three months too soon. By Christmas, I had gone from half marathon shape, to letting my running shoes collect dust, from feeling good about what I ate to eating cookies on the regular, and from writing weekly to not writing at all.

Flash forward to present times, and I’m finally catching up to that bandwagon. Having started The Best Me Yet Challenge at AM, I’m back to eating foods that nourish my body and give me energy. With that, I’ve remembered what it feels like to want to run, cook, and be creative. Damn, it feels good to be back.

As the title says, I planned on making this short and simple. Clearly, just by reading my typical long introduction, you can see that I’ve tried and failed. Nevertheless, let’s talk carbs. Hot damn, carbs can be a scary thing. Look at any weight loss plan or “healthy lifestyle” plan, and you’ll see that just like your creepy uncle at Christmas time, carbs are often shunned out of the limelight. What’s worse, is that whenever well known “clean eaters” do eat carbs and flood our Instagram feeds with them, they’re telling us how badass they are because they “indulged” and they don’t care. Because life is all about balance right? You get to have a cheeky carb or two, because you’ve earned them by putting in time at the gym.

Wrong. Just, wrong. I’ll be honest, and tell you I’ve fallen for that BS many times before. In fact, it’s only recently that I’m realizing just how much I bought into the hype. When receiving my meal plan for the challenge, I nearly fell over at what I’d be eating. “Wait, you mean pasta, rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and bread? Multiple servings? Every day?”, I scoffed from my high horse. It took me a few days (and a step ladder), but I’ve gotten down and seen the light. Are carbs earned in the gym? I suppose. What’s more important however, is that they fuel you for the gym…and life in general.

So, because I love them so much, for the next few weeks, we’re sticking on the subject of this delicious macronutrient. For once, I’m excited to write about what I’m actually eating and creating on a daily basis. (I love brownies as much as the next guy, but a girl can only eat so many.) This week I told Coach Greg that I was going to find all the damn ways one can cook a sweet potato. By the end of Week 1, I’m up to six ways. Here are some of my favorites!

Mash ‘Em

 

Don’t get too crazy here. We won’t pretend this is rocket science. Simply poke some holes in your tater, and microwave for about 8 minutes. After it’s cooled a bit, remove from the skin, mash, and add a half teaspoon each of cinnamon, salt, and pepper. 

Hashbrown ‘Em

Use your mandolin or box grater, to shred about 4.5 ounces worth of sweet potato. Then, combine your grated potato with two egg whites, and a half teaspoon each of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and chili powder. I had about two ounces of leftover unseasoned mashed potatoes, so I added those in to bind the browns a bit more. If you don’t happen to have any mashed potatoes laying around, you can grate an additional ounce or two of potato. Once combined using a fork, portion into 2 or 3 good sized hash browns, and cook each side over medium heat for about four minutes, or until they are golden brown and crusty. 

Pancake ‘Em

This is where it gets good. Being made of only two essential ingredients, these guys can be as simple or complicated as you’d like them to be. With it being winter, I’ve still got maple on the brain. So, in addition to 5 ounces of cooked sweet potatoes, and two whole eggs, I also threw in 1 teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg, and maple extract. Even though you could combine these ingredients with a fork, I found it was easier to get a smoother batter using a hand mixer. Then, just like any other pancake, cook for about 4 minutes each side, over medium heat. You won’t see any bubbling in the center of the pancakes, so be sure to look for brownness around the edges!

Donut ‘Em

What’s a weekend without donuts? A bad weekend, that’s what. This gets really complicated…wait for it…use the same recipe as above, only exchange the maple extract for vanilla, and add in a 1/2 teaspoon each of baking powder and baking soda for a little bit of a rise in your donuts. When I first tried this recipe, I added in too much leavening and it ended up tasting like metal. I’d advice against it. Instead, stick with the 1/2 teaspoon, and accept these won’t be as fluffy as a Krispy Kreme Oh well. 

There you have it! Sweet potatoes, four ways. Next week, I’m getting tOATally pumped to talk about my favorite grain.

Until then, stay tuned and stay hungry!

Erin

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