Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Spinach and Cranberry Loaded Sweet Potatoes

Well, tomorrow marks two weeks since my diagnosis, and overall, I feel fantastic! I've had to make some some major adjustments, mostly in the way of taking medication so often and checking my blood sugar consistently throughout the day, but I'm really feeling good.
Additionally, I purchased my 2013-2014 membership at the gym in order to resume my workouts: Zumba on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, and Step Aerobics on Tuesday and Thursday. Watch out, Miss America! I'm coming for your title! :) My thighs and calves are definitely feeling the burn from all the squats and steps, but each change takes me closer to my "Get well, stay well" goal.

Eating, however, has proven to be the most challenging component of this transition. I think part of the issue is that I'm likely overthinking it--but man, when you're trying to manage blood sugar as a novice, everything seems like a carbohydrate-laden, sugar-filled, sodium-loaded landmine! In my efforts to go for the good and avoid the bad, I've had a bit of trouble finding a solid safety zone. All with time, I suppose.
I did have a follow-up appointment with my endocrinologist today, though, who reassured me that I am doing a great job and that she's very impressed with my progress, especially as a new diabetic. She's already begun to reduce my medicine dosages, and hopes ultimately that I won't need medication at all to manage my diabetes! I'm excited about that, and I'm definitely trying to do my part so that that day comes sooner than later!

Now, about these potatoes: mmmmmmm. First, full disclosure: in general, I have never been a big fan of sweet potatoes. There's no particular reason--I just have never really cared for them. However, this recipe was a game-changer for me, and sweet potatoes can consider themselves officially added to my kitchen rotation!
Everything in here is good for you! Spinach has tons of healthy iron, fiber and vitamins; cranberries contain skin and heart-loving antioxidants; sweet potatoes are loaded with magnesium, potassium, numerous vitamins, AND it's all great for your heart! You can't lose! :)

I adapted this recipe from Budget Bytes, and MAN, is it good (and pretty, too! Look at all those colors!) The potato is creamy and luscious; the spinach is savory and garlicky, and the cranberries add a pop of sweet-tartness. The combination is so magically delicious--I wish I had made more than one!
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter or coconut oil
  • ⅓ cup chopped walnuts (optional; I didn't use them)
  • 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash and dry sweet potato, then prick the skin a few times on all sides with a fork. Use 1 teaspoon of olive oil to lightly coat the skin, and bake for one hour in the preheated oven, or until soft all the way through. (Sweet potatoes ooze sugar as they bake, so make sure to wrap your potato in foil or place something on the rack below to catch any drippings).

When the sweet potatoes are 10 to 15 minutes from being finished, saute the spinach with remaining olive oil and garlic over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, or just until the garlic becomes fragrant and slightly soft. Add the spinach (1 large handful, or about 1 cup packed) to the skillet. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Continue to saute until the spinach is wilted (2-3 minutes).

When the potato is finished, slice it open from end to end and lightly mash the insides. Add about a ½ tablespoon of butter or coconut oil to the inside of the potato then season lightly with salt and pepper, if desired. Top with spinach and dried cranberries. Serve hot!

Nutrition Facts-- Servings: 1 Size: 1 potato Calories: 210 • Fat: 10.8 g Cholesterol: 15 mg Carbs: 27.1 g • Fiber: 5.0 g  Protein: 3.4 g • Sugars: 8 g

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