From nomads to privateers, you have to eat to perform.
Forever on the quest to find better fuel, we look to history. We go back and then look forward in this installment to the fuel of Moroccan Nomads and Barbary privateers.
Traveling across the rugged Mountain interior through large tracts of desert and long coastlines, everyday athletes of all types need quality carbohydrates to fuel performance. It’s carbs that helped sustain it during the Almoravid dynasty and Almohad Caliphate. As well as during French mandate and Spanish Conquest.
Down to the modern age, Moroccans continue to fuel landmark performance.
It’s the first country to acknowledge U.S. self-government helping it get safe passage during the U.S. Barbary Wars.
And it’s signed the longest, unbroken treaty with the United States (the Moroccan-American Treaty of 1786).
It might be interesting to know how Morocco fuels such epic performance.
Fiber, Starch, and Honey
Imagine prunes: That’s how Morocco has fueled a country that is diverse in cultures including Phoenicians Carthaginians, Jews, Arabs, sub-Saharan Africans, Romans, and and Andalusian.
As well as religions such as Christianity Judaism Islam and paganism.
Everybody needs prunes.
Speaking of prunes, one of the most interesting and awesome Moroccan dishes that have a heritage of fueling performance are prunes and baked vegetables.
You may be wondering why are starchy carbohydrates so important to performance. Ultimately caloric intake, then macro-nutrient composition, and then micro nutrients are in a priority when we try and strategize our nutrition.
Technically eating carbohydrates, in general, should fuel performance.
But if you want to be more diligent and feel good you’ll eat as you are physiologically hard-wired and adapted to. Moroccan heritage compliments such a thing and that it is a heritage that goes back hundreds of thousands of years.
Eating Starchy Carbohydrates
These carbohydrates are found to share the same molecular structure or very similar molecular structure as muscle glycogen. There’s an awesome article by Eat to Perform on the topic. Ultimately it’s muscle glycogen that you deplete during exercise and training generally speaking.
Starches are an Athlete’s Best Friend
Starch is a glucose polymer found in most plants that is chemically similar to our endogenous glycogen; it’s literally just a long chain of glucose molecules bonded together.
Although humans have a tough time digesting the stuff raw, cooking breaks it down into pure glucose ready for utilization as a substrate to produce cellular energy throughout your body.
Of course, whatever you don’t use can be stored, preferably in your biceps, quadriceps or abdominals. While some of the most widely-consumed sources of starch (and thus glucose) are grains, like corn, wheat and rye, plenty of Paleo-friendly alternatives exist if that’s your thing.
At the forefront, we have good ol’ fashioned tubers, like potatoes and carrots, as well as rice (preferably white because the fiber in brown rice actually impairs glucose loading a bit), but let us not forget chestnuts and acorns that are rich in starchy energy.
Squash, peppers, zucchini and cauliflower round everything out and give you a wide palette of flavors to choose from. – Eat to Perform
All right, so what makes this Moroccan dish so special?
Well, you’ve got three types of tubers: sweet potatoes, butternut squash, acorn squash, Etc. You also have minced garlic a variety of, a variety of spices which provide you even more micronutrients, especially curcumin which has anti-inflammatory benefits.
And prunes of course!
Moreover the spices themselves are a testament to the Silk Road trade System, including cardamon, curcumin, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, honey, and black pepper.
If fueling to perform is what you’re after then Moroccan foods like Khodra Bel Barkouk (Baked vegetables with prunes) are a very delicious way of fueling high performance.
Fuel your performance like the Moroccans.
Not like this:
Alright, now if you want to make your own Moroccan fuel, check out the recipe below.
Recipe originally from The Food of Morocco: A Journey for Food Lovers by Tess Mallos
60 mL or 1/4 cup olive oil
2 red onions, peeled and quartered
3 garlic cloves, bruised and unpeeled
2 sliced carrots
1 lbs winter squash
1 lbs orange sweet potato
1.5 tablespoon Ras el hanout
1 red chilli
1.5 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup pitted prunes
1 tablespoon honey
1. Take the garlic, onions, and olive oil and put then in. A deep baking tray. Let the onions and garlic swim across the sea of olive oil like the Berber admiral, Barbarossa (Redbeard) as he challenged economic dominance over the Mediterranean.
2. Make sure the oven is at 400 Fahrenheit. Let the onions and garlic conquer the baking tray for about 15 minutes.
3. Cut up the squash, carrots, and potatoes. Place them across your new maritime empire and be sure to stir it all up, bathing the carbohydrates. Also add the red chili and Ras al Hanout (mix cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, pepper, circumin). Let them Cook for 30 minutes.
4. After, add honey to the chicken broth, and then pour over your dish, adding prunes as well. Cook for another 30 minutes.
Makes 4 servings. Per serving:
Calories – 416 calories
Protein – 5 grams
Carbohydrates – 73.5 grams
Fats – 13.5 grams
Fiber – 9.75 grams
Go ahead and fuel international-performance with this awesome meal!