Oh sweet heaven, how can something so delicious also be so good for you? You might not have guessed it, but today’s tasty treat for you is the sweet goodness of sweet potatoes!
ALL ABOUT THE SWEET POTATO
The orange-fleshed tuber that hails from South America, and is sometimes referred to as a yam, is indeed not related to yams at all. Neither are they related to the common potato in fact. Sweet potatoes hail from the Convolvulaceae family and are a tropical, flowering vine from the same family as Morning Glories.
With a history dating back to Peru from possibly 10,000 years ago, there are few cultivated vegetables that are as old as the sweet potato. And while Christopher Columbus may have brought it back to Europe in 1492 from his worldly travels, it did not stop there.
Sweet potatoes are enjoyed the world over and know by many names, such as kumar (Peru), batata (Mexico), kumara (Polynesia), satsuma-imo (Japan), and cilera abana (Eastern Africa). In actual fact, not all sweet potatoes even have orange flesh, as they can also be found with white, brown, pink or even purple insides.
NUTRITION OF THE SWEET POTATO
Why is it that sweet potatoes are enjoyed the world over, you wonder? Aside from their sweet taste, sweet potatoes are over-flowing with wonderful benefits. Their orange-flesh is a great indicator of their beta-carotene content – the darker the color, the more beta-carotene present.
They provide very high levels of vitamin A, as well as vitamin C, vitamin B6, dietary fiber, iron, calcium, and simple starches. Purple-fleshed varieties also contain anthocyanin pigments, which equate to anti-oxidant benefits in addition to holding anti-inflammatory properties.
Interestingly, the cyanidins and peonidins in sweet potatoes have also shown a benefit to lowering health risks associated with heavy metals, such as mercury or cadmium. A bonus for anyone, but especially those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome or ulcerated colitis.
And for those that struggle with diabetes, you might be interested to know that sweet potatoes help to stabilize blood sugar levels as well as lowering insulin resistance.
HOW TO SELECT AND PREPARE SWEET POTATOES
When you are looking for sweet potatoes, choose firm ones free from bruises, cracks or soft spots. Sweet potatoes are a tropical crop, and as such do not need to be kept in the fridge. In fact, their flavor will be negatively affected by too cold a temperature. If you have a root cellar, keep them there. If not, sweet potatoes will keep loosely stored in a cool, dark location for up to two weeks.
Unless you can find organically grown sweet potatoes, peel the skin before using them. Their flesh is susceptible to oxidization, so either use them immediately, or submerse them in water until ready to cook. They take well to steaming, boiling and stir-frying, so experiment with how you like them best. Once you add them to your diet though, you will be digging for more recipes before you know it.
SWEET POTATO RECIPES
SWEET POTATO BISCUITS
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
¼ cup cold unsalted butter
1 cup cold mashed sweet potatoes
¼ cup half and half
2 tbsp. melted unsalted butter
1tbsp. finely chopped parsley
¼ tsp. garlic powder
In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder cinnamon, salt and nutmeg.
Cut butter into mixture using pastry cutter until mixture resembles coarse meal.
Add sweet potatoes and half hand half; stir until mixture comes together.
Transfer mixture to lightly floured board and knead about 30 seconds.
Pat to about 1-inch thickness and cut into 2-inch circles using biscuit cutter.
Arrange on ungreased baking sheet.
Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit about 15 minutes, until puffed and golden.
Transfer to wire rack.
Combine melted butter, parsley and garlic powder.
Brush over hot biscuits.
Serve biscuits warm. Makes 18 biscuits.
SWEET POTATO FRIES
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes , peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. dried Italian herb seasoning
Preheat oven to 425°.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil coated with cooking spray.
Spread the sweet potato strips out onto the baking sheet in a single layer.
Coat with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and spices.
Turn them over to evenly coat on all sides with oil and spices.
Bake for 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes with spatula.
SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE
4 cups sweet potato, cubed
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Put sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan with water to cover.
Cook over medium high heat until tender; drain and mash.
In a large bowl, mix together the sweet potatoes, white sugar, eggs, salt, butter, milk and vanilla extract.
Mix until smooth. Transfer to a 9×13 inch baking dish.
In medium bowl, mix the brown sugar and flour.
Cut in the butter until the mixture is coarse.
Stir in the pecans.
Sprinkle the mixture over the sweet potato mixture.
Bake in the preheated oven 30 minutes, or until the topping is lightly brown.
We are totally dedicated to your health here at Premier Fitness Camp in Utah. We not only feed you fantastic meals every single day at our weight loss camp; we teach you how to shop for and prepare healthy and nutritious meals!