February marks National Sweet Potato Month, a super spud loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C and fiber. In fact one medium sweet potato provides over 200 percent of our Daily Value of vitamin A! The vitamin A also gives the sweet potato its dark orange color. This nutritient plays a key role in eye and skin health. Many diabetics steer clear of potatoes, however, the high fiber content of the sweet potato helps slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream, helping to keep blood sugar steady.
Sweet potatoes are simple to shop for. Choose potatoes that are firm and do not have any cracks, bruises or soft spots. Store them in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place. Avoid refrigerating all potatoes, as the cold temperature will negatively alter their flavor.
Believe it or not, covering them with butter, brown sugar and marshmallows is not the only way to serve them. Instead, here are four healthy recipe suggestions for sweet potatoes:
SWEET POTATO-CRUSTED QUICHE
Salt and black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 shallot, finely chopped
¼ cup chopped red bell pepper
8 oz fresh spinach leaves, stems removed and coarsely chopped
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese (4 oz)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-inch pie plate; set aside.
Scrub and peel sweet potato. Using a mandoline slicer, slice sweet potato crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange slices on bottom and up sides of prepared pie plate. Spray sweet potatoes slices with nonstick cooking spray; season to taste. Roast for 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add shallot and bell pepper. Cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Remove from skillet; set aside.
Add remaining oil to same skillet. Heat over medium-high heat. Add half of the spinach to skillet; cook for 2 minutes or until wilted. Add remaining spinach to skillet and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until wilted.
In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, cheese and nutmeg. Stir in spinach and shallot mixture. Pour egg mixture into prebaked sweet potato crust. Bake for 40 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. Serves 5.
Nutrition Facts per serving: 320 calories, 23 grams fat, 195 milligrams cholesterol, 280 milligrams sodium, 12 grams carbohydrate, 6 grams sugar, 2 grams fiber, 15 grams protein.
Black Bean-Smothered Sweet Potatoes
1 (15 oz) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. reduced-fat sour cream, divided
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro, divided
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 degrees 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. Serves 2.
Nutrition Facts per serving: 351 calories, 7 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 6 milligrams cholesterol, 468 milligrams sodium, 61 grams carbohydrate, 12 grams fiber, 11 grams protein.
Sweet Potato-Apple Hummus
2 medium (about 10 oz total) cooked, peeled sweet potatoes*
1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans
2 apples, peeled and chopped
In a medium bowl, lightly mash sweet potato with a fork. In a food processor, blend together the sweet potato and beans. Pulse until smooth.
Add to sweet potato mixture in the food processor the apple juice, oil, almond butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, allspice and salt. Mix on low speed until well-blended. Stir in apple.
Transfer to a serving dish. Top with almonds. Refrigerate until serving. Serve with pita chips, vanilla wafers, sliced apples or sliced pears.
*Cooked sweet potatoes microwave directions: Scrub sweet potatoes. Pat dry and prick. Do not rub with shortening, margarine or butter. On a plate, arrange potatoes in spoke fashion. Microwave, uncovered, on 100% power (HIGH) until tender. Allow 7 to 9 minutes for 2 potatoes, rearranging and turning potatoes over once. Let stand 10 minutes or until cool. Skin will peel off easily using a small knife. Serves: 20 (2 tablespoons each).
Nutrition Facts per serving: 80 calories, 2.5 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 95 milligrams sodium, 12 grams carbohydrate, 6 grams sugar, 2 grams fiber, 2 grams protein.
Cajun Sweet Potato Fries
2 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper (leave out for slightly less spice)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Leave the skin on and cut sweet potatoes into thin, even matchsticks with a very sharp knife. Transfer to two baking sheets, covered with aluminum foil, arrange in a single layer to ensure they crisp up. Drizzle potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with seasonings. Bake for 15 minutes and flip/stir to cook on the other side. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes more, or until brown and crispy. You’ll know they’re done when the edges are dark brown and crispy. Remove from oven and either serve as is, or drizzle with a bit of maple syrup or honey to offset spiciness. Serves 2-3.