Manifold Destiny

I’m going to be perfectly frank: I am not a superfan of the requirements of the post-workout meal.

In case you’re unfamiliar, my food mentors, the giant brains behind the Whole30, recommend that within 15-30 minutes of finishing a workout, we should eat some high-density carbs (like sweet potatoes or butternut squash), protein with very little fat (egg whites, chicken breast), and – this is the zero fun part – no added fat.


Sweet potato home fries cooked in coconut oil with a little chicken or egg whites? Delicious!

Sweet potatoes and egg whites steam-sauteed-oh-god-won’t-you-please-get-brown without any fat? Not so much.

I’ve wrestled with my post-workout meal for months.

First, I microwaved the sweet potatoes, cut them into cubes, and scrambled them with egg whites. FAIL! Too mushy. Plus, I don’t like my eggs scrambled.

Then I tried making “muffins.” Microwaved the potatoes, cut them into chunks, piled them into giant muffin tins, topped them with egg whites, baked them ’til they seemed dry enough to satisfy my food texture issues. FAIL! Too thick. Too soggy.

Finally, I microwaved the sweet potatoes, cut them into cubes, threw them in a searingly hot pan so they’d get some nice brown marks on them, sprinkled them with garlic powder and salt, then added the egg whites and spread it out like a pancake. SUCCESS! The whole thing got a nice dry texture and lovely brown carmelization on both sides.

But then the timing issue raised its ugly head.

I could pre-cook my post-workout meal and take it to the gym for immediate consumption after my workout, but then I was eating it cold. Even my now perfected sweet-potato-and-egg-white-pancake didn’t hold up when it suffered the indignity of being chilled, warmed to room temperature, and eaten in the car. It was soggy and rubbery and in a terrible no-man’s-land that wasn’t hot but wasn’t cold.


I actually forced that down my throat for a few weeks, but then I got sick of eating something I found repugnant. So I decided to cook it at night and re-heat it as soon as I got home from my workout… which was a great idea, except that meant I was often eating almost an hour after my workout. Not optimal.

Inspiration arrived in the form of a little book called Manifold Destiny. It’s a wackadoodle cookbook packed with recipes designed to be cooked on a car engine (Safe-at-any-Speed Stuffed Eggplant anyone?). The cooking times are given in mileage.

I’m not kidding!

As an experiment, I wrapped my post-workout pancake in foil…

… and when I got to the gym, I popped the hood, put the foil packet on the engine, and crossed my fingers. An hour later, I was eating a warm sweet-potato-and-egg-white breakfast with perfect texture – just five minutes after finishing my stretching.

I’ve been trying to be surreptitious about it at the gym. I mean, it just seems like kind of weird behavior. But this morning, one of my workout buddies caught me in the act of retrieving the foil packet.

“Keeping your breakfast warm on the engine?” he asked.

I said yes.

And ya know, I think he was kinda jealous.

Onions 101

Last summer, I told Farmer Chuck — the king of everything delicious at our CSA Sunrise Farm — that the onions we'd been getting in our basket were...

Read More
Coconut 101

I was working on updating a classic American recipe for my Paleo Magazine column this weekend and realized I had no idea how to properly prepare...

Read More


  • barb says:

    HA! i love it! Another car cooker like me. I freak my neighbors out by using my car as a solar food dryer. In NJ, I can really only do it during the warmer months but that's ok because that's when the blueberries are in abundance. I've even made jerky in the car but then the whole car smells like beef for weeks….not so pleasant. 🙂

  • Matt F says:

    This is why you are AWESOME!!!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Barb –> We need more details on car jerky!

    Matt –> Thank you for the AWESOME so early in the morning. Perfect start to the day.

  • Anthony says:

    I was a little jealous.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    ANTHONY! OMG… your comment is like having one of my characters talk back to me 😉

    Good job this morning. That workout was NO FUN. I kinda pouted all the way home and through my shower.

  • Mwangole says:

    Melissa you are hilarious! 🙂
    I am so glad that my days as a student/athlete taught me to eat food cold whenever needed.

    No issues there, but totally love your approach hahaha

  • Anniebug, bugger or BUG. says:

    Have you tried mashed sweet potatoes? Those always seem to taste good and keep well. I also have a friend that does recovery shakes + her own added protein in them. That is a good alternative if you don't have time to make food-food.

  • Erika Superguts says:

    Brilliant! You're taking it to a whole new level now girl!

  • Fontaine says:

    You are a great writer. Your positive personality and honesty make your stories great and your writing makes them even better. Yours is my favorite blog.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Mwangole –> I tried so hard to be OK with the cold fried egg whites. I just couldn't do it.

    Annibug –> I have texture issues, so I don't like mashed potatoes, pudding, flan, etc. But thanks for the suggestion.

    Erika –> Brilliant?! Thank you!

    Fontaine —> This made my day. I'm so glad you like the blog. Thanks a ton!

  • Ehsa says:

    We historians in your followership got a large charge out of the "Manifold Destiny" title — Onward to the Pacific! (Presumably via auto with engine-heated dino chow en route). LOL!

  • gotamigo says:

    Awesome story. You know you go to a good gym when one of your fellow gym-goers catches you warming your food on your engine and doesn't even blink.

    Try that at a globo gym, however, and they would probably call the SWAT team on you and/or ban you for life.

  • KIC says:

    LOL….do you think this will work up in Canada? May have to adjust teh cooking time for the colder temperatures.

  • thegetinshapegirl says:

    OMG. This is AMAZING. I have to try it!!

    And one way you could try sweet potatoes is to slice them (thin) & bake them in the oven on a cookie sheet with a little cinnamon. I like them on the thicker (maybe a quarter inch" thick because I like them soft. But my boyfriend likes them crispy (aka burnt) so I make his thinner & leave them in longer.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    I love that idea! Burnt sounds awesome. What kind of protein do you eat with them? I guess chicken breast slices would be pretty good.

  • thegetinshapegirl says:

    I just use them as a side for my chicken, fish, turkey, etc.