Cooking With Sweet Potatoes

Orange is the New…

By Shauna Lindzon

 

I’m not sure about you, but I probably spend a little bit too much time thinking about sweet potatoes. I might be a food nerd!

Sweet potatoes are one of those vegetables that stand out for their bright colour, and for how they please the palate with their sweet flavour. Nutritionally, their deep orange flesh is rich in vitamin C and potassium, and their beta carotene levels (which boost Vitamin A) put their white potato counterparts to shame. These nutrients play a vital role in keeping your cardiovascular system and your liver healthy.  Sweet potatoes also contain a starch that isn’t fully broken down in our intestines, which in turn helps promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria.  Finally, bonus points to the sweet potato for being filling, and for being gluten-free!

When eating sweet potatoes, it’s a great idea to eat the peel which is rich in fibre, and it also helps promote bowel regularity.  When cooked, the sweetness of the flesh is amplified, and the texture becomes creamy (tip – consider putting something crunchy on it).  I like to roast sweet potatoes in the oven at a high temperature (450 degrees F) to ensure that they don’t get soggy.  Try drizzling one sweet potato (cut into rounds) with about 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil – this will crisp them up.  Then, top it off with crispy kale chips, a dollop of feta cheese, and some chopped pistachios and pomegranate seeds sprinkled on at the end.  I then finish it off with a vinaigrette made from extra virgin olive oil, grated ginger, Dijon mustard, Medjool dates, salt, and pepper.  This is the perfect balance of sweet, salty, acidic, and spicy.  

Another delicious way to eat sweet potatoes is to bake the whole potato in the oven for at least 45 minutes to an hour.  This way the skin becomes crispy and caramelised around the flesh.  You can then use it as a blank canvas to create a full meal.  For instance, you can go the Mexican route by adding black beans, salsa, guacamole, shredded cheese and drizzled with a creamy cilantro sauce.  If you want to go the Mediterranean route, you can add chickpeas with chopped tomatoes, parsley, spices such as cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and paprika.  Top this mixture off with some lemony tahini and you have a delicious meal.

It is also so much fun to play around with different colour combinations when building a sweet potato dish.  Adding in roasted beets, Brussels sprouts, and parsnips provides a lovely side dish with great contrasting colours.  Simply roast them on a high heat (425 degrees) for about 20-30 minutes with some olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and you have a fibre-rich healthy side dish that is delicious!

Shauna Lindzon runs practical cooking demonstrations that combine scientific knowledge with culinary education. Her demonstrations are unique, informative, delicious and a lot of fun.  You can find a list of her nutrition classes and recipes at shaunalindzon.com