Supercharge Your Fitness
The A’peel’ing Sweet Potato
Many people associate sweet potatoes with the holidays, but this fibrous tuber should be a regular part of your meals all year long. Start the new year off right with this awesome edible root as the main meal attraction! A few ‘spud’tastic recipes follow.
This nutrition powerhouse has a rich natural sweetness, which is produced by an enzyme in the potato that converts most of its starches to sugars as the potato matures. This sweetness continues to increase during storage and when it’s cooked.
Considered one of the most nutritious foods in the veggie kingdom, sweet potatoes are low in calories, about 103 calories for a medium sweet potato with an assortment of other nutrients: vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, potassium and dietary fiber. One potato also provides over 25% of the RDA for vitamin E, almost unheard of in a low-fat food.
The orange color of the sweet potato indicates the presence of carotenoids. One sweet potato supplies over 100% of the daily requirement for beta carotene. The darker the flesh of the potato, the more beta carotene. When eaten with the skin on (yes it’s edible), a sweet potato has four times the recommended intake for beta carotene. The body converts beta carotene to vitamin A which plays a vital role in vision, bone development and immune function.
Besides benefits from a variety of nutrients found in sweet potatoes, research also shows that these root veggies also play a role in stabilizing blood sugar for someone on a diabetic diet. Compared to other foods, sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index. When eaten, they break down more slowly in the body, producing smaller fluctuations in blood glucose and insulin levels.
- Use sweet potatoes along with white potatoes when making potato pancakes and potatoes au gratin.
- Make a multi-potato salad with sweet potatoes and a sunrise blend.
- Shred raw sweet potatoes into burgers, meatloaf and meatballs.
- Add cubes of sweet potatoes into chili and other soups and stews.
- Swirl a mashed sweet potato with mashed white potatoes for a festive side dish.
- Stir mashed sweet potatoes into tomato-based sauces.
Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos
7-ounce can chipotles in adobo sauce (including the sauce)
½ cup plain yogurt or reduced-fat sour cream
¼ cup reduced-fat mayo
Juice of 1 lime
½ tsp sea salt
1½ Tbsp canola oil, divided
1 sweet onion, diced
1 large poblano chili, seeded and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1½ tsp sea salt, divided
1 medium sweet potato, cut into ½ -inch dice
1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
¼ tsp ground black pepper
12 6-inch Artisan tortillas (corn/whole wheat blend)
Canola oil spray
2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Oaxaca or reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese
- To make Chipotle Sauce, place chipotles, yogurt, mayo, lime and salt in a blender and puree until smooth. If the chipotle sauce is too spicy, add more mayo, yogurt or sour cream.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat a heavy ovenproof skillet (cast iron ideal) over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbsp oil to pan, then onion and poblano chili. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly caramelized. Stir in garlic and 1 tsp salt.
- In a medium bowl, toss sweet potato with remaining ½ Tbsp oil and ½ tsp salt. Add to skillet and cook, stirring one minute, then place pan in oven to roast for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare tortillas dorado: heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Spritz a tortilla lightly with oil spray and place oil-side-down in a pan. Sprinkle a generous spoonful of cheese over center of the tortilla and cook until cheese is melted and the tortilla is lightly golden on the underside but still flexible. Place on a baking sheet and repeat with remaining tortillas and cheese. When finished, lightly oil a piece of foil and use it to cover the tortillas.
- Remove the skillet from the oven and stir in black beans and black pepper (beans will warm through from the heat of the pan). Top each tortilla with sweet potato mixture and a drizzle of chipotle sauce.
Yield: 12 tacos (servings)
Sweet Potato Pecan Bites
¼ cup goat cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup sweet potato puree
20 large pecans
2 Tbsp. dried cherries or cranberries
Mix together goat cheese and sweet potato puree. Place the pecans with the flat side up. Spread about ½ teaspoon of the sweet potato mixture on each pecan and top with a dried cherry or cranberry.
Yield: 20 bites
Cindy Kleckner, RDN, LD, FAND is a registered dietitian nutritionist and culinary expert, a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and author of Hypertension Cookbook for Dummies, 2011 and the DASH Diet For Dummies, 2014. Email Cindy for a personalized demonstration of this fun and easy way to add more nutrients to your meals at 214-293-5306.