By Morgan Crawford a recent ASU student
Did you know that sweet potatoes are in season? Ah, the humble sweet potato. Such a simple food that is packed with delicious and nutritious potential. This root vegetable grows in moist, warm soil and is harvested all across the world, including Japan, Russia, the Caribbean, and the southern parts of the U.S. Here in the United States, we produce a large portion of the sweet potatoes we see in the grocery stores—the top five States being North Carolina, Louisiana, California, Mississippi, and Texas. Did you know that the sweet potato is North Carolina’s state vegetable?
An interesting fact about sweet and regular potatoes is that they aren’t even in the same family! Sweet potatoes belong to the plant group known as Morning Glory, while the common potato is part of the Nightshades. Often considered to be the healthier “cousin” of the regular white potato, this vegetable is packed with nutrients. Beta-Carotene (Vitamin A) is concentrated in high levels, making sweet potatoes a great source of Vitamin A. They are also high in vitamins C and B, phosphorous, magnesium, and iron. Sweet potatoes are helpful in treating stomach discomfort, regulating diabetes, managing arthritis, strengthening immune response, and treating respiratory disorders. The root vegetable has also been linked to a reduced risk of cancer. They have high levels of antioxidants, which prevent the damage caused by free radicals in the body.
With Thanksgiving and the holiday season just concluded, many of us are getting excited for the plethora of delicious dishes and think fondly of the coming 2019 holiday season. We look forward to the traditional foods like stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and of course the centerpiece: turkey. But we can never forget the ooey gooey marshmallow-smothered sweet potatoes. I remember as a kid, begging my mom to let me lick the bowl after she would make this iconic dish. Dark brown sugar, creamy butter, smooth sweet potatoes, and sticky marshmallows—how could I not want to lick the bowl clean?
As I have gotten older and I have developed a deeper knowledge of health and nutrition, I have wrestled with the question: why would we take perfectly delicious, nutrient-filled sweet potatoes and cover them with sugar and butter!? Well, aside from it being absolutely delicious, the traditional holiday side dish doesn’t offer much in terms of nutrition. In past years, I have experimented and tried out different recipes that are both delicious and good for you. If you’re looking for a healthier option this year, try out this recipe from Joy Food Sunshine.
Sweet Potato Casserole
Sweet potatoes- 2 pounds
Coconut oil- 3 tablespoons
Applesauce- 1 cup
Cinnamon- 2 teaspoons
Chopped Pecans- 1 cup
Nutmeg- just a pinch
Salt to taste
- Set oven to 450 degrees.
- Bake whole sweet potatoes until soft. This takes 1-1.5 hours depending on size.
- Allow sweet potatoes to cool, then remove skins.
- Reduce oven heat to 375 degrees.
- In a blender add cooled sweet potatoes, applesauce, coconut, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. (This can also be done in a large bowl using a potato masher).
- Place mixture in a 9” baking dish and top with chopped pecans.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes.
- Serve after allowing to cool for 10-15 minutes.
Sweet potatoes are also a delicious addition to savory dishes.
If you’re looking for some healthy comfort food, here is a recipe for you!
Sweet Potato Curry
- 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- 1 Onion Chopped
- 1 tsp Crushed Garlic
- 1 tsp Minced Ginger
- 1 Tbsp. Red Curry Paste
- 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 1 tsp Turmeric
- 4 Large Sweet Potatoes (Peeled and Chopped)
- 1 15oz Can Lentils (Drained)
- 1 15oz Can Chopped Tomato
- 1/2 cup Vegetable Stock
- 1 14oz Can Coconut Milk*
- 1/4 cup Peanut Butter
- 2 cups Fresh Basil
- 2 Tbsp. Coconut Sugar
- Sea Salt and Black Pepper
- Rice- I prefer brown Basmati
- Basil- Fresh
- Peanuts for garnish
- Heat oil in a large pot. Sautee garlic, onion, ginger, curry paste, cayenne, paprika and turmeric. Cook until the onions have softened.
- Add lentils and sweet potatoes to the pot.
- Add tomatoes, stock, and coconut milk. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Cook until sweet potatoes are tender.
- Stir in peanut butter.
- Wilt fresh basil in the pot.
- Add sugar, salt, and pepper.
- Serve the curry with rice and top with peanuts and more basil if desired.