In a previous blog, I talked about the importance of certain nutrients (carbs and protein) and the timing of those nutrients to promote recovery after a workout. This week, I have a delicious and healthful recipe for Sweet Potato and Spinach Quesadillas that would be great after a workout.
If you take a bit of time to prep the filling (through step 4) the night before or before your workout, this recipe will come together quickly. If you haven’t prepped the filling, simply make yourself a tall fresh fruit smoothie or eat a banana as you get started.
This recipe is easily modifiable to accommodate many different tastes and diets. To make it vegetarian, skip the chorizo sausage or use a vegetarian alternative. To make it gluten-free, simply use gluten-free or corn tortillas. To make it dairy-free, omit the cheese, the mashed sweet potato does a pretty good job holding it together. To make it grain-free, skip making quesadillas altogether, roast a few more sweet potatoes, and serve them topped with the mixture of caramelized onions, black beans, and chorizo sausage (if using).
Sweet Potato and Spinach Quesadillas
Serves 4-8 (depending on meal size) | Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- 1 medium sweet potato, scrubbed and pierced all over with a fork
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 large yellow onion, halved then thinly sliced
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt, divided
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 pound chorizo sausage, bulk or removed from casing (optional)
- Spray oil
- 8 whole wheat tortillas
- 1-2 cups shredded cheese (optional)
- Desired toppings for serving (salsa, sour cream, avocado, etc.)
1. Preheat oven to 425˚F.
2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place sweet potato on baking sheet and bake for about 60 minutes, flipping half way through. Remove from oven, cool slightly, then remove skin and transfer flesh to a large bowl. Mash with a fork or potato masher until smooth. Set aside.
3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, reduce heat to medium, and cook for about 10 minutes. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, lower the heat to medium-low and continue to cook for 35-50 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until caramelized and deep in color. Stir in spinach and black beans and continue to cook until spinach is wilted; about 2-5 minutes. Transfer mixture to bowl with sweet potato and add smoked paprika, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Stir to combine.
4. Heat the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook, breaking up with the back of a spoon until browned and no-longer pink inside; about 8-10 minutes. Add to mixing bowl with sweet potato mixture.
5. Wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel and spray with oil. Heat over medium heat. Add one tortilla, top with about 1-2 tablespoons shredded cheese, 1/2 cup of sweet potato filling (spread out), 1-2 more tablespoons of shredded cheese, and another tortilla. Cook on both sides until golden brown; about 3 minutes a side. Remove from skillet and let cool for 5 minutes before slicing.
6. Serve topped with your favorite toppings!
In addition to good quality carbs, the sweet potato and spinach in this recipe provide vitamin A, which can have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, while also promoting cell growth and development. The black beans provide heart healthy fiber and antioxidants.
This recipe has approximately a 2-3:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio, so have some fresh fruit (banana, apple, berries) on the side (if you didn’t have some while preparing the filling) to get closer to the desired 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio for optimum recovery. Enjoy!