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When you’re working out, you want the right combination of energy to see you through. Bodybuilders tend to drink a lot of protein shakes and eat a LOT of baked chicken and sweet potatoes. This is because they want lean muscle — not extra fat. With grains off-limits and sugar a no-no, many Paleo enthusiasts avidly participating in the cross-fit craze, also turn to their fair share of chicken and sweet potatoes. In fact, so do other low-carb dieters like diabetics and those concerned about the health implications of belly fat stores (NOTE: Studies have shown that excess belly fat puts you at a greater risk for health issues and may be a sign of estrogen dominance or insulin resistance.)

Workout Cravings

If you’re watching your carb intake while kicking up your exercise, you can end up feeling unsatisfied and find yourself hitting a wall of cravings. This recipe will give you the protein, energy, fat and nutrients your body needs to fuel it and your exercise regimen without weighing you down — and it tastes great! It’s one of our favorite lunches these days here at the house, not only because it tastes great but because it’s fairly quick to assemble (once you have the potatoes baked.) I bake my sweet potatoes in the toaster oven, wrapped in foil at 425 degrees. This cooks them faster than the traditional oven (about half the time for a medium yam or sweet potato.) If you’d like, you could bake up a bunch of taters on a Sunday, for the week and just reheat them when you’re ready to fill for a hot lunch or quick dinner. You can also use this filling in other potatoes like russet, Yukon Gold, or purple (though the yam and sweet potato varieties have a deeper nutrition profile).

GymTato & GymKata: An high energy pairing

Since I’m always thinking about pairing food with movies, I envision pairing this dish with a good bodybuilding competition, an 80s exercise equipment infomercial, or a craptastic athletic combo movie like GymKata, where our protagonist, three-time World Gymnastic Champion and US Government spy, Kurt Thomas’ non-stop gymnastic action is bested only by his sweet karate moves. Our hero triumphs over the many assassins sent to stop him and completes his mission. How does he do it? As the trailer says with, “his only weapon — himself. And that’s ALL-HE-NEEDS.” I like to think Kurt fueled up before he headed out for a day of gymnastics + karate, dodging assassins and saving the world by popping one of these awesome taters in his gullet.

Chicken, Prosciutto, Spinach & Tahini Stuffed Sweet Potato: GymTato

Serves 2

  • 2 medium-sized sweet potatoes or yams
  • 6 oz organic chicken breast
  • 3 pieces of prosciutto
  • Half a bunch or bag of organic spinach
  • 1 Tbsp Tahini Spread (I like Trader Joe’s)
  • 1Tbsp olive oil + some olive oil spray
  • 1/8 tsp or less of garlic powder

Bake 2 medium-sized sweet potatoes or yams until soft inside (this takes about 20 mins in my toaster oven.) Bake one, 6 oz chicken breast which has been coated with olive oil (either by rubbing it on by hand or spraying it on with an oil pump and spray like Misto or Olive Oil in a spray can) and a sprinkling of garlic powder, until juices run clear and it’s cooked through. Fry 3 pieces of prosciutto in a skillet with a few drops of olive oil until crisp. Flash wilt half a bunch of spinach in the skillet you cooked the prosciutto in with 2 tsp of olive oil (cooking it in the same pan as your prosciutto will deglaze the pans of all the yummy flavor left over by the prosciutto.)

Once all the ingredients are done — it’s time to assemble: 

I like to use a pair of poultry shears for this part but you can roughly tear or cut these ingredients with a knife as well. Cut the chicken and prosciutto into small bite-sized pieces and put all together in a bowl with the spinach, then add 1 tbsp Trader Joe’s (or whatever brand you like) Tahini spread. Make sure it’s a Tahini spread and not just Tahini — as the spread contains garlic and lemon as well, giving it a lovely balanced flavor than is a bit different than plain Tahini.

Mix together and top your split potatoes equitably with the final mixed ingredients. The result is a creamy, hearty but not heavy — baked, stuffed potato that is packed with protein, vitamins A and C and has an almost creamy, cheesy flavor to it (without the cheese!) that will fuel the rest of your day without needlessly spiking your blood sugar. Enjoy!

(*And if you get the chance, eat it while watching the 80s hybrid martial arts movie, GymKata.)