Carbohydrates (carbs) are always a great subject to talk about. They have been a hot-button word in the diet/health/fitness industry for quite a while now. No carb? Low carb? Tons-O-Carb? What to do, what to do? As human being we need them for energy. Especially those of us who are very active. Paleo lifestyle proponents agree that we all need carbs, just in different doses. For instance, because of my high activity level and my performance goals in the gym, 40-60% of what I eat daily is carbohydrate. I have learned that I am not a happy camper when I eat too few carbs. Conversely a person who has a seated desk job and is physically inactive needs way less carbs than I do. In this post I would like to introduce you to my favorite carb sources and how I prepare them. And no, I will not be discussing bread and pasta (barf). Paleo peeps get their carbs from vegetables and fruit, and we feel damn good about it!
Carb Source #1 | Sweet Potato
Sweet potato is super cheap. I bought three today at Hannaford for 2.48 or $0.79/lb. I eat one medium sized SP every day, so that roughly $0.83 per day. These little babies are packed with nutrition: vitamins A, C, E, and B6, potassium, manganese, magnesium, and iron. For one cup of mashed sweet potato I get 58 grams or dense starchy carbs to fill my muscles after a tough WOD, keep my belly feeling good, and to keep my energy humming throughout the day. Sometimes I eat the whole sweet potato after my WOD, or I eat most of it then and save the rest for the next morning to eat with my two eggs before my WOD.
My favorite way to prepare SP is:
1. Peel them (always peel potatoes)
2. Slice them up with a mandolin food slicer
3. Place them in a single layer on a lined baking sheet
4. Coat them with olive oil
5. Sprinkle them with a pinch of salt
6. Bake for around 20 minutes at 400 degrees
Carb Source #2 | Acorn Squash
I never ate a lot of squash before I went Paleo. I never ate any acorn squash (that I can remember) before last month. It is now my new favorite. Squash are also relatively cheap, especially this time of year. If you can find them at a roadside farm stand I’m sure you can get a better deal, but I bought one at the market today for $1.49. For one cup of cubed squash, I get 15 grams of dense carbs. So if you have a small acorn squash, that’s probably about half of the squash.
My favorite way to prepare Acorn Squash:
1. Chop the ends off (use a sharp chef’s knife, be careful)
2. Cut in half length-wise
3. Drizzle with olive oil
4. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder
5. Bake cut-side down (skin-up) on lined baking sheet for ~45 min at 400 degrees
Carb Source #3 | Cauliflower
It’s no wonder that cauliflower is a dieter’s dream food. You could eat an entire large head of the stuff for 210 calories, 45 grams of carbs, and 17 grams of protein. I am in no way saying that I am on a diet, but clearly I am conscious of what I use to fuel my body. Maybe I should have said “a paleo-lifestlye enthusiast’s dream food”. When cauliflower is cooked and becomes slightly caramelized it is sweet and delicious. I can easily eat the whole head all at once, but usually I portion it out so I don’t feel like a bloated stuffed turkey. For instance, if I prepare a head of cauliflower using the method below and I eat 1/4 of the dish, I can assume that I’ve eaten around 12 grams of carbs. Not a lot. But, for someone watching their carb intake, it’s a great food because it’s filling, nutritious, and tastes awesome.
My favorite way to prepare Cauliflower:
1. Chop if up in a food processor so it is the consistency of rice. I use the entire head.
2. Put in a large mixing bowl. Mix in 1/4 cup canned coconut milk, 1 egg, minced garlic, salt and pepper, 1/4 cup olive oil.
3. At this point you could bake it like this. Add to 9×9 inch greased baking dish.
4. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees until golden on top.
5. For more fun and flavor add 1) Sun-dried tomatoes, basil, parsley or 2) Lime juice, cilantro, cayenne pepper. Be creative – think up your own variations depending on what you’re serving and what you like!