Welcome to the inaugural edition of Campfire Fuel, where nutritionally balanced, campfire-friendly recipes are featured to help fuel your outdoor adventures by optimizing energy and reducing soreness.
This time we’re focusing on the sweet potato. Why? Because you’d be hard pressed to find a better camp food option. Whether you’re in for a 10 day backcountry trip or a mellow car camping night, sweet potatoes have your nutritional needs covered.
Delicious and nutritious, sweet potatoes are also one of the most transportable foods around. Uncooked, they stay good for weeks and they’re hardy enough not to get crushed by your gear. Heck, you can even play catch with them if you get bored. Durable. Versatile. Colorful. What more could you want?
There’s nothing more patriotic than eating sweet potatoes. In 1492, when Columbus sailed the ocean blue, he ate sweet potatoes too! Yes, colonizer Christopher Columbus loved them so much that he brought sweet potatoes back with him after he “discovered” America, spreading their popularity across Europe. George Washington even grew sweet potatoes at Mount Vernon.
Sweet potatoes contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are ideal for adventuring. For starters, they are low on the glycemic index, meaning they release sugar into the bloodstream slowly, giving you steady amounts of energy to FUEL your camptivities.
Sweet potatoes are part of the morning glory family, while often-confused-for yams are drier and starchier and are closely related to lilies and grasses. While both are good for you, sweet potatoes contain more nutritional benefits than yams. There are about 400 different types of sweet potatoes and yes, the nutrients vary in different varieties, but no matter which you choose, you’ll enjoy the following benefits:
Vitamin A: A large sweet potato has more than 100% of your RDA, providing incredible antioxidant properties. Carotenoids, precursors to Vitamin A, also help prevent cell damage from physical exertion, keeping you young throughout your adventures. Vitamin A has also been shown to enhance skin beauty. Say hello to that campfire glow. ‘http://www.naturalnews.com/035739_sweet_potatoes_beta-carotene_nutrients.html#
Vitamin C: One sweet potato has about 50% of your RDA, promoting a healthy immune system. Basically, it will help prevent you from catching a cold if you’re out in the cold.
Anti-carcinogenic: The cyanidins and peonidins in sweet potatoes help prevent cancer cell growth, meaning you can rest easy when the wind pushes all that campfire smoke into your lungs.
Anti-inflammatory: Due to their concentration of nutrients, sweet potatoes can help relieve inflammation, which means you can play more and be less sore.
Antioxidants: General rule of thumb: colors = antioxidants therefore, sweet potatoes > regular potatoes because they are orange.
Potassium: Prevents cramps, helps lower your blood pressure and regulate your heartbeat.
Magnesium: Alleviates stress, helps you relax and supports a good mood. Talk about a happy camper!*
Fiber: Aids in proper food digestion. It will help keep you regular after that jerky you’ve been eating all day.
Quercetin: Wards off allergies and helps you breathe easier. Wildflowers are so much prettier when they don’t make you sneeze!*
One of my favorite things to do is just pour a can of baked beans on top of a roasted sweet potato. Easy, delicious, and you’ve got good simple recovery carbs, protein, and all those aforementioned sweet potato nutrients. Did I mention it’s easy yet?
If you’re feeling a little more ambitious, spice things up with this Sweet Potato Peanut Butter Curry recipe. It’s easily made vegan and paleo-friendly, and you can sub out the peanut butter for another nut if anyone’s allergic.
1. Wrap the sweet potatoes in foil. Cooking potatoes with the skin on is not only easier, it’s more nutritious, preventing the oxidation of all those awesome nutrients you just read about. You’re going to be putting them right into the fire so add an extra layer of foil unless you like your skins crispy.
2. Stick the potatoes into the fire and start sipping on your favorite campfire beverage. They will take roughly 40-60 minutes to cook thoroughly, so check them every 20 minutes or so by stabbing them with a fork or skewer. You’ll know they’re done when your utensil pokes through without resistance.
3. Once the potatoes are done, remove the foil and place them in a bowl. While still hot, add the coconut milk, peanut butter, spinach, and curry powder and turmeric to taste. Start mashing! The heat from the potatoes will wilt the spinach and melt the peanut butter, making your mash job easy. Once you’ve reached the desired lumpiness, gently fold in the peas and chicken, and enjoy! Easy peasy.
4. The medium chain triglycerides from from the coconut milk provide an awesome source or quickly usable energy for your body and the natural fats, along with ones from the peanut butter, help your body absorb the fat-soluble nutrients in the sweet potatoes including Vitamin A! Spinach supplies you with iron and good fresh green energy and peas have their own antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits to contribute as well.
5. As for the spices, I could write a whole book on the amazing anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric and curry powder, but to be brief, it’ll add some flavor to your usual campfire routine and help keep those muscles loose, so you can frolick about the forest with no end in sight.*
Happy, healthy camping!
Words by Taylor Zisfain
Taylor is a certified health coach and fitness nutrition advisor. She also teaches and practices yoga, climbs lots of rocks, and enjoys many adventures in both the kitchen and the great outdoors. Follow her on instagram @TheTayloredFIT, and check out her wellness website, http://www.thetayloredfit.com/.
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