Whether you’re brand new to running or a seasoned marathoner, you’ve likely heard the phrase “carb load” in relation to your pre-run meal. Not all carbohydrates are created equal, though. While it may be tempting to fill up on pasta and bread before a long run, those simple carbohydrates can actually contribute to that dreaded feeling of hitting the wall after the initial energy spike they provide wears off.
One way to prevent that from happening is by replacing simple carbohydrates with complex carbohydrates that release energy slowly and steadily to fuel you throughout your run. That’s where nutrient-dense sweet potatoes come in. They not only provide the complex carbohydrates that keep you going on your long run, they’re also good source of vitamin C, which promotes healthy bones and muscle recovery. Even better, you can reap the benefits by preparing them exactly as you would your morning toast — cutting them into thin planks like bread slices and topping them with your favorite breakfast foods.
Prepping Sweet Potato Toast
To start, you’ll want to look for a large sweet potato that’s shaped more like a tube so it’s easier to slice. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and slice the sweet potato lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick planks. (Feel free to peel them first if you prefer them with the skin off. Otherwise, leave the skin on for some added vitamins and fiber.) Spread the sweet potato slices out evenly on a large sheet pan and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, flipping the slices over halfway through. Once they’ve finished baking and have cooled slightly, top the slices with any combination of sweet or savory ingredients. We’ve included some of our favorites below.
Before placing the sweet potato slices in the oven, lightly coat them with coconut oil and sprinkle them with cinnamon and a small pinch of sea salt. Once they’ve finished baking, top them with half a banana, sliced (freeze the other half for a post-run smoothie), a small drizzle of honey and a teaspoon of cacao nibs. Another sweet option that packs a little protein is to top them with tablespoon of plain Greek yogurt, a handful of fresh berries, a small drizzle of honey and a teaspoon of shredded coconut.
Before placing the sweet potato slices in the oven, lightly coat them with olive oil and sprinkle them with sea salt and a small pinch of cayenne pepper. Once they’ve finished baking, top them with a handful of arugula, a poached or soft-boiled egg, 1/4 of an avocado and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. For a spicier option, swap out the balsamic vinegar with Sriracha.
If you end up with more sweet potato slices than toppings, you can store the extra slices in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Pop them in the toaster to reheat, and then add your toppings as usual.