Season’s Eats: Sweet Potatoes
By Jillian Kaplan
Roots for Life Marketing and Communications Volunteer
Happy April, folks! Spring is here, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy some of our favorite winter vegetables!
On this new Season’s Eats post, we’d like to highlight Sweet Potatoes. Rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, these earthy root vegetables will not only pop in color and sweetness, but also add hearty warmth in a rice or stew dish. Not only that, but they’re great served as a side, or sliced up into sweet potato fries for a tasty snack.
Why eat seasonally? Seasonal foods will have a higher content of nutrients than foods that have been frozen or stored. Eating seasonally also helps local farmers sell what they’re growing. Eating seasonally can also help you maintain a diverse and varied diet, so you know you’re getting a variety of vitamins and nutrients. Can’t go wrong there.
Sweet potatoes are a large edible root vegetable. Vibrantly colored, they are starchy and sweet-tasting. Sweet potatoes can be planted in the spring through the end of June, and don’t require much fertilizing. Little known to most, the leaves of the plant are also edible.
Sweet and white potatoes are not actually related—Sweet potatoes belong to the morning glory family, while white potatoes belong to the nightshade family. But like white potatoes, sweet potatoes have a high glycemic index, which means they are high in carbohydrates. So eat this produce in moderation to still get the impact of its positive benefits.
Sweet potatoes are:
Rich in Vitamin A, in the form of beta-carotene, which stimulates the production of white blood cells (also found in the similarly orange carrot). Add a drizzle of olive oil just before serving to increase Vitamin A absorption.
High in fiber, which can promote a healthy digestive system.
High in potassium
Rich in Vitamin B6, which can help protect against heart disease
Rich in selenium, which may help protect against cardiovascular disease.
Black Bean Smothered Sweet Potatoes
This recipe can be found at www.eatingwell.com
It will make two servings, and take 35 minutes to make (including prep time).
2 medium sweet potatoes
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
1 medium tomato, diced
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Prick sweet potatoes with a fork in several places. Microwave on high until tender all the way to the center, 12 to 15 minutes.
(Alternatively, place in a baking dish and bake at 425 F until tender all the way to the center, about 1 hour).
Meanwhile, combine beans, tomato, oil, cumin, coriander and salt in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high until just heated through, 2 to 3 minutes.
(Alternatively, heat in a small saucepan over medium heat.)
When just cool enough to handle, slash each sweet potato lengthwise, press open to make a well in the center and spoon the bean mixture into the well. Top each with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of cilantro.
If you’re feeling adventurous, serve some chopped avocado on the side. Enjoy the sweet, orange warmth of this heart-healthy sweet potato dish.