Being both Irish and Polish, the potato is basically my official food item. Some of my fondest memories involve my grandma’s homemade mashed potatoes, where the secret ingredient was roughly three sticks of butter. No one else’s mashed potatoes have ever come close, probably because those levels of saturated fat are borderline illegal in some states.
Suffice to say, I love potatoes. Sweet potatoes? Even better.
Unlike their pale cousin, the sweet potato is something of a superfood. They’re cheap, readily available (especially now) and positively loaded with nutrients. What kinds of nutrients, you say?
Sweet potatoes contain carotenoids, the precursor to vitamin A that helps reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancers and diminishes signs of aging. Moreover, the natural sugars in sweet potatoes provide a slow release, meaning they’ll help keep you fuller longer. Sweet potatoes also contain vitamin D, which is critical for combatting illness and seasonal affect disorder (S.A.D.), especially as the days grow shorter and colder. They also contain magnesium (which helps fight stress), are packed with vitamin C (which in addition to warding off illness can also maintain your skin’s elasticity) and offers a healthy amount of vitamin B6, potassium, iron… you get the picture. Go eat a sweet potato.
Oh, and the other great thing about sweet potatoes? There are a million easy ways to make them.
Microwaved Sweet Potatoes
No oven? No problem.
1 sweet potato
1 paper towel
Wash the sweet potato and puncture a few times with a fork. Wrap it loosely in a paper towel and place it on a microwave dish. Cook on high for 4-5 minutes, turning it halfway through cooking.
Chipotle Smashed Sweet Potatoes
This is my all-time favorite sweet potato recipe.
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 whole canned chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
1 teaspoon adobo sauce from can of peppers
1/2 teaspoon salt
Put cubed potatoes into steamer basket and place steamer into a large pot of simmering water that is no closer than 2 inches from the bottom of basket. Allow to steam for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Add butter to potatoes and mash with potato masher. Add peppers, sauce, and salt and continue mashing to combine. Serve immediately.
Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili
This one goes out to the vegetarians.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1 28-ounze can diced tomatoes
4 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained (or 6 cups freshly cooked)
1 jalapeno chili pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 lime, cut into wedges
1 cup chopped cilantro leaves, washed and dried
Warm the oil in a large pan over medium heat and add the onion, red pepper, garlic and salt.
Sautee until soft, about four minutes. Add the sweet potato and lime zest, and cook 10 to 15 minutes more, continuing to stir occasionally. Add the tomatoes, black beans, jalapeno, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, and cocoa, bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10 minutes. Serve over brown rice, if desired, with lime wedges and cilantro, or with corn bread, chips, etc.
Planning on making a sweet potato dish this holiday season? Share with us in the comments!