Whether you are on or off the field, it is important to fuel wisely. Leading sports nutritionists across the country recommend potatoes as a best choice for refueling your body before or after a workout.
“To do your best, put potatoes on your plate,” says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, CSSD, nutritionist for the 2016 World Series Champion Chicago Cubs. That’s because the benefits of America’s most popular vegetable go far beyond its delicious taste and kitchen versatility.
Want to hit and get ready for a grand slam? Here’s how potatoes get you there.
First Base: Carbohydrates
Did you know that carbohydrates are the main fuel for your brain and the main source of energy for your muscles? Since your body’s carbohydrate stores are limited and can be depleted even in a single intense and/or prolonged training session, it is important to replenish them for optimal mental and physical performance. With a medium-sized potato skin (5.3 ounces) containing 26 grams of carbs, the potato is a nutrient-dense carb, containing as many, if not more, some of the essential vitamins and minerals than spaghetti, brown rice or whole wheat bread (compared on a per serving basis).
Second Base: Potassium
A medium-sized potato skin (5.3 ounces) also contains 620 milligrams of potassium. That’s more potassium than a banana! Potassium is a crucial electrolyte that helps the functioning of the muscles, cardiovascular and nervous systems. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines list potassium as an underconsumed nutrient and recommend eating foods high in potassium, such as white potatoes.
Third Base: Energy
As we all know, sufficient energy supports optimal body function, and it is extremely important to consume the proper amount of calories to match the demands of your day. Potatoes are more energy-rich than other popular vegetables, with a medium potato (5.3 ounces) containing 110 calories.
Whether you lead an active lifestyle or compete with elite athletes, there are the best potato options to fuel your body and brain all day long. Katie Cavuto, MS, RD, chef and dietitian for the Philadelphia Flyers and Phillies, keeps her potato dishes interesting with recipes like Smoky Maple Potato Bites, combining a crunchy panko crust with a soft, satisfying potato center to make a dish that’s easy to make. a post-practice (or between-innings) snack.
Maple Smoked Potato Bites
Made Specifically for USA Potatoes by Katie Cavuto, MS, RD
Yield: 16 servings (2 bites per serving)
2 pounds russet potatoes, washed and cut into 2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus extra as needed
3/4 cup diced leeks, white part only (one medium leek)
1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoons lightly smoked paprika
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
3 tablespoons of real maple syrup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 large eggs, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus extra as needed
1 1/2 cups panko (regular or gluten free)
Olive oil cooking spray
1. Add the potatoes to a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Cook uncovered over medium-high heat for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Drain the potatoes and place in a large bowl.
2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil, chives and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often, until soft. Place the cooked leeks into the bowl with the potatoes.
3. Add yogurt, paprika, oregano, maple syrup, mustard, 1 egg, pepper and remaining salt to bowl with potatoes and scallions. Mash the potatoes, stirring every now and then, until smooth.
4. Place the potato mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 425 F.
6. Crack the remaining 2 eggs in a small bowl and beat.
7. Add the panko to another small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
8. Make 2 tablespoons of the potato mixture and roll it into balls.
9. Working one by one, dip balls in egg, then dredge in panko, pressing to coat.
10. Place the balls on a baking sheet coated with olive oil spray. Spray the top of the ball with cooking spray as well.
11. Bake for 15 minutes and then, if necessary, bake for one more 2 to 3 minutes until brown. Serve instantly.
Per serving (2 bites): Calories: 136, Fat: 3 g, Cholesterol: 35 mg, Sodium: 273 mg, Carbs: 23 g, Fiber: 2 g, Potassium: 386 mg, Protein: 5 g, Vitamin C: 9 %