Fall is upon us, and local farm stands are full of delicious fall veggies like squashes, carrots and our Thanksgiving staple sweet potatoes. Many of us grew up with sweet potatoes as a sugary side dish, laden with white or brown sugar, corn syrup, honey or even marshmallows.
But sweet potatoes have a subtle sweetness on their own, and minus all the “toppings” they are one of the healthiest carbohydrates you can eat. They are great for both weight loss and muscle gain. Their natural sugars digest slowly to help keep you feeling full for longer, and they are full of vitamins and minerals. Check out these easy recipes to “think beyond the marshmallow” and let the natural sweetness of sweet potatoes shine through.
BAKED SWEET POTATOES
This is my basic go-to for cooking sweet potatoes. Baked sweet potatoes are one of my favorite mid-afternoon snacks, as they satisfy my mid-afternoon craving for sweets and help stave off hunger until dinner. They also make a great side dish or fall salad ingredient. Baking the sweet potatoes also retains more nutrients than boiling. The coconut oil, cinnamon, and salt highlight the sweet potato’s natural sweetness.
2-3 Large Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
Salt to taste
Preheat oven to 350º.
Warm the coconut oil on the stove or in the microwave until it becomes liquid, then mix with cinnamon.
Pour mixture over the sweet potatoes and toss to coat.
Place sweet potatoes on a cookie sheet in a single layer, and sprinkle salt on top.
Roast for 30-45 minutes, until sweet potatoes are tender.
CURRIED SWEET POTATO
I love the sweet/salty combination of curry spices and sweet potatoes. This recipe steams rather than boils the potatoes, which helps retain nutrients.
2 pounds of sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch thick slices
2 cups water
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1. Place the sliced sweet potatoes in a steamer basket or steam tray, then place the tray in a pot. Add ~ 2 cups of water to the pot – enough water to cover the bottom inch of the pot, but not enough to touch the potatoes. Cover the pot.
2. Bring the water to a strong boil, then reduce the heat to medium. Steam the potatoes for 15-20 minutes, until they are soft. Check for softness at 12 minutes by sticking a fork in a few of the potatoes. Potatoes are done when the fork can go through the potatoes easily without getting stuck. Remove the potatoes and steamer basket from the pot, dump the remaining water, then place the potatoes back into the pot to keep them warm.
3. While potatoes are steaming, add avocado oil to a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add shallots to pan, and cook 6 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in salt, curry powder, cumin, cinnamon, and red pepper. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
4. Add shallot mixture and lemon juice to the potatoes. Mash potato mixture with a potato masher to desired consistency.
Tips: if you don’t have shallots, you can substitute them with red or yellow onions. Also, you can substitute any kind of hot pepper for the red pepper, depending on how much heat you want. You can also boil the sweet potatoes for 15 minutes instead of steaming them, if you don’t have a steamer basket.
MICROWAVED SWEET POTATO
This is a great way to cook a sweet potato if you don’t have access to a stove, like at work or in a college dorm room.
1 medium sweet potato, not peeled
Salt/pepper/spices to taste
Wash the sweet potato, then poke holes in the skin with a fork.
Microwave the sweet potato 5 minutes in a covered container, then turn it over and microwave it 5 more minutes.
Check to see if it is done by poking it with a fork. The fork should slide easily all the way through the middle of the potato. If the fork sticks, microwave for additional 1 minute increments until it is done.
Slice open the skin, season as desired, and enjoy!