Every Spring I feel this pressure to be “healthier,” to eat “cleaner,” and to “detox.” And, every spring, I end up craving the hearty foods that I have been eating all winter. It’s like my brain knows that my body needs kale and fresh fruit, but my stomach will only be satisfied by potatoes and cheese (preferably together, with a lot of seasoning, and a cold beer).
The transition months are weird; they cause weird behavior, and our need to latch onto a quick solution to all of our weird problems. It’s not our fault that we crave the heavy, hearty foods that winter provides, especially if we are committed to eating seasonally. These past few months of winter I have unknowingly trained my body to crave heavier foods in order to sustain itself during the coldest of the cold, and I know that I am not alone.
There is a reason why we crave warm, rich foods in the winter as opposed to light, fresh fruits and veggies: heavy starches and full fats are good fuel against extremely cold temperatures and common winter illnesses. Getting out of these habits is the hard part, but it can be done without shocking the system. So this year, I decided to trick both my brain and my stomach by eating delicious, hearty foods that are actually incredibly nutritious, detoxifying and light. Basically, this is an excuse to give into cravings without compromising health, nourishment, and that incredibly renewed feeling one gets after eating super clean for one week straight. Superfoods, to the rescue!
My two favorite superfoods are the unsuspecting sweet potato and the all-star avocado, because they are both super delicious on their own as well as being super healthy.
Sweet Potatoes are an excellent source of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is the most well-known provitamin A carotenoid (as well as being a great anti-oxidant) and is most commonly found in orange and red vegetables. The thing about foods containing beta-carotene is that they are only beneficial to your body if the important provitamin is absorbed up into your cells. The most effective way to fully absorb the nutritional benefits of foods containing high levels of beta-carotene is by consuming them with healthy monounsaturated fats - like the fats that exist in avocados.
One particularly heart-healthy fat of the avocado is oleic acid, known to help decrease LDL’s, cholesterol and blood pressure. With the help of oleic acid, as well as smaller amounts of both omega 3 and omega 6 monounsaturated fats, the full benefits of the beta-carotene filled sweet potato may be taken advantage of.
Keeping it Vegan and Away from the Fryer
I like to let the avocado speak for itself. It doesn’t need much to shine because of it’s naturally buttery texture and flavor. While I’m not vegan, I sure do appreciate the healthy richness that the avocado provides on its own and would happily substitute avocado for a slice of cheese or dollop of Greek yogurt any day. It’s just that good. That being said, a zesty, tangy, and silky smooth dip is perfectly suited for the avocado. And, as much as I love a good crispy French fry, removing a large amount of the unnecessary fat from the world’s favorite form of potato can help to create space in my belly for the good types of fat to do their magic.
Better yet, by coating these “fries” in a good amount of the anti-inflammatory spice Turmeric, I am able to make it interesting for the palate as well as relieving of any pre-existing stress in my body. Lastly, if I use sweet potato as opposed to regular potato, then I am providing my body with a nutrient rich snack disguised as junk food. Awesome. So, for this secretly healthy snack, I choose the oven over the fryer and pure avocado with a handful of healthy, whole ingredients.
Tumeric Sweet Potato Fries
- 2 large Sweet Potatoes
- 2.5 tsp Corn Starch
- 1-2 tsp Ground Turmeric
- .5 tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 3 tsp Salt
- 2 tsp Coconut Oil
- 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Preheat oven to 400° F. Rinse and peel sweet potatoes. Chop them into even, finger-sized spears. In a large bowl, thoroughly coat the sweet potato spears in corn starch either by mixing it with your hands or with a pair of tongs. Incorporate the salt, turmeric, and cayenne slowly while mixing and then begin to add both coconut and olive oils at the same pace. Gently toss the sweet potato spears in the bowl to ensure an even seasoning. Once well-coated, place the sweet potato spears in either a large cast iron pan, or on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Make sure that they are spread out evenly before placing them in the oven. Shift them around as needed and cook for 35-40 minutes, or until they begin to brown and crisp up around the edges.
Vegan Avocado Dip
- 1 whole Avocado
- 1 whole Lemon (Zest and Juice)
- Fresh Cilantro (5 stems)
- Fresh Parsley (5 stems)
- 2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 tsp Maple Syrup or Agave
- Kosher Salt and Black Pepper to taste
Scoop the meat of the avocado into a blender. Zest and squeeze the lemon and add to the avocado. Pluck both the cilantro and parsley leaves and add to the blender along with the ACV and sweetener of your choice. Pulse until almost smooth. Incorporate the salt and pepper slowly, pausing to taste between pulses. Once the spice level is to your liking, store the avocado dip in a covered bowl in the fridge and serve with the “fries.”