I was talking to a friend a couple of nights ago, who was explaining to me how she is perceived to be the “healthy” one in her new workplace. She sounded very surprised because she never thought of herself as especially healthy and in her mind she wasn’t trying to be. She said she “just loves snacking on things like fruit and things, because I like good food, I grew up that way.” Now unfortunately for some of us, we can’t choose how we grow up and who our family is, and in no way should we be placing the blame on someone else for our unhealthy eating habits, but it does raise a very good point. My friend was explaining how she doesn’t have to think about it. She doesn’t even try. She just does it.
It made me think. If someone is healthy, most people will put it down to good self-control. But is it? Maybe it is in the beginning, but after a while a healthy lifestyle has nothing to do with control. It’s about habit. You just do it, there isn’t even a wasted thought about it. It is when you are at this space, that a healthy lifestyle is just that, a lifestyle. It isn’t a choice, or an effort.
I am saying this, because I feel like the process of getting healthy is so effortFUL and tiresome, that must be part of the reason why people give up. They think, how can I keep this up forever? Well I’m here to say, you don’t have to. It’s called neural plasticity. The idea that the more you practice habits, the more that neural pathway is padded out, until that is the path of least resistance and it becomes the easier path. Pretend for a second you are driving to your old country holiday home. You have been going there for years, there is a big freeway almost to the door and you don’t really have to think about where to go. Then you sell that place and decide buy a new one in a completely different location. At first, it takes a lot of effort to navigate your way there. It’s a tiny dirt road which winds around and you get there feeling exhausted just from the journey. But after a while, the road becomes more familiar, people start paving it until it becomes another freeway and you find it easy. It’s like that. Initially, it is always going to be difficult, but it will get easier every time you practice it until it is like second nature.
Our ingredient of the week is…drum roll please…sweet potato! We received some amazingly sweet sweet potatoes from our friends at the Vegie Trail and had a ball making these! We designed this recipe as a his and hers. You can use it how you like, but we liked the idea of one that is super healthy (the “her”) and one that is for the greedier pallet. For nutritional info about sweet potato, read this article where I have written about it previously.
Scooping the flesh out is optional, but makes it easier to fit the mixture on top of the potatoes!
The “her”- our favourite. I would actually have this for breakfast!
The “him” – slightly more robust in flavour.
Baked stuffed sweet potatoes
Serves 2 as a side or light meal
- 1 teaspoon organic, cultured butter
- 1 red onion, chopped roughly
- 1 bulb garlic, chopped finely
- Sea salt
- 2 sweet potatoes
- 4 olives, pitted and chopped
- Small handful parsley, chopped
- 4 sundried tomatoes, chopped
- 1 strip organic bacon, chopped
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (you could also use sumac here or any other spice!)
- Parmesan cheese, grated
- Prick sweet potatoes and bake in a 200 degree C oven for 1.5 hours or until soft. Take out and allow to cool slightly. Keep griller or oven on 150 degree C.
- While waiting for potatoes, in a pan melt butter and cook onion over moderate heat until soft.
- Add garlic and cook for another minute or so.
- Sprinkle a small amount of sea salt into mixture.
- In a separate pan, cook bacon. Allow to cool on paper towels.
- When potatoes are cooled slightly, cut in half, scoop out a little lining of flesh (see pic).
- For “her” potato: mix half of garlic and onion mixture and half of scooped sweet potato flesh with olives, parsley and sundried tomatoes. Top two halves with mixture and crumble desired amount of feta on top. These are ready to serve.
- For “him” potato: mix the rest of the garlic and onion mixture and half of scooped sweet potato flesh with the bacon and cayenne pepper. Top two other halves with mixture and sprinkle desired amount of parmesan cheese on top and put under griller (or open oven) at 150 degree C until cheese has melted.
- Try not to fight over it.
For a vegetarian alternative: swap the bacon for chickpeas instead!
For a dairy-free alternative: omit the cheese and sprinkle with some nutritional yeast.