Sunday, February 22, 2009

Healthy Habits: Get Sweet on Sweet Potatoes

It wasn't until relatively recently that I discovered the joys of the sweet potato. My mother detests them, hence they didn't appear on our dinner table with any regularity...or ever. Once I did get the chance to sample this wonder veggie, it became one of my favorite foods. Not only does it deliver a distinctive sugary taste, but it also provides several nutritional advantages.

One small potato provides a whopping 262% of your daily needs for vitamin A as beta carotene, plus plenty of vitamin C, manganese, and dietary fiber; the beta carotene and vitamin C make sweet potatoes an antioxidant-rich superfood. Sweet potatoes are also known for their lower glycemic load in comparison to other potatoes, meaning that their carbohydrates are digested more slowly. While any kind of potato is perfectly suitable for a healthy diet, sweet potatoes might be a better choice for those concerned about blood sugar levels.

For more information about the nutritional profile of sweet potatoes, visit this website.
In addition to the traditional marshmallow and brown-sugar concoction that appears on special holidays, sweet potatoes may be prepared and enjoyed in a multitude of ways. Although I am a fan due to their innate tastiness, the food blogger in me loves the color sweet potatoes add to the plate--they make for great pictures:) Here are a few of my favorite ways to enjoy them:

Simply baked or microwaved, and topped with cinnamon, sometimes with nuts as well.

Cut into spears, sprinkled with spices, and baked to make oven fries.

Mashed with greens, as in Lindsay's African Kale Mash

Combined with beans and veggies for a spontaneous hash. (Best with black beans).

Baked and topped with hummus and paprika.

Topped with canned (top) or homemade (bottom) chili.

Topped with refried beans and salsa.

The possibilities are endless! I'd love to hear how all you creative foodies out there enjoy your sweet potatoes.

Before I go, I have a request regarding another superfood, flax seed. I have two large containers of ground flax seed to use up, and I am looking for ways to incorporate it its valuable omega-3s into my diet. How do you use ground flax?

Well, I must return to studying for the evening. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!


Nicole ( said...

This post is full of win!!!! I love sweet potatoes, they are the best!! said...

i use ground flax in oats, cold cereal & almond breeze, oatbran, smoothies, or yogurt concoctions...

vegannurse said...

I love me some sweet potatoes too!! So good! I love to eat it plain, or use various toppings.. my fave it cinnamon and pecan. mmm!

As for flaxseed.. you should totally make Syn's RAWsome pancakes... they are so good and healthy for you. Plus, extremely filling! Go to this link:
for the recipe.

Have a great week!

VeggieGirl said...

Well, as I always comment around the blogging world, I eat sweet potatoes every other day; and I always shout....


luckytastebuds said...

wow that was an eye-opening post! I couldn't have guessed how many things you can do with sweet potatoes. I only had 2 options in my head but now....that all looks so good I feel obligated to substitute all my potato dishes with sweet potatoes. :) Thank you!

Sara said...

Well,I'm not a very creative cook. I simply steam mine with a stick of cinnamon and eat 'em plain. But I agree with you, they rock!

Yasmin said...

I heart sweet potatoes! Here are two ways I use them. Microwave the sweet potato and cut into cubes.
1. Toss with chopped apple, raisins, egg whites, tuna (or other protein)and Italian dressing. Yogurt on the side.
2. green beans, tuna, Italian dressing, and feta cheese
Usually I chill them overnight and have them for lunch the next day. Enjoy!

ksgoodeats said...

Hooray for the SP!! I am currently (as I type) eating SP fries with S&P and ketchup :D

I also enjoy the SP "baked" (aka microwaved because I'm impatient) with CC!

shelby said...

Oh my, I really have to get me some more sweet potatoes. I'm bookmarking this page for all the ideas, thanks!

Anna said...

I love microwaving sweet potatoes! So fast and easy, it only takes a couple minutes

eatingbender said...

Sweet potatoes are so amazing! My favorite combination (from Sarah at Our Kitchen Adventures) is the sweet potato + cottage cheese combo, topped with some ketchup. But I'm also a big fan of sweet potato + guacamole and sweet potato + hummus. Hmm...perhaps I'll have to try humbecued sweet potato soon, what do you think? ;o)

Joanna said...

Sweet potatoes are definitely one of my all-time favorite foods. In my humble dorm room, I microwave the potato, cut it into sticks, sprinkle it with cinnamon and sea salt, and dip it into bbq sauce. I also love cutting the cooked potato into cubes and adding it to lentil soup. And (I've gotten strange looks for this), but I love eating the skin by itself! (Anyone else?) As for the ground flax seed, it's a staple in my morning oats!

Sarah (lovINmytummy) said...

As for the flax, what Lindsey said!

I LURRRRRVE sweet potatoes! I make fries or chips with cajun seasoning and eat 'em w/ketchup, or I bake them and top with cinnamon and almonds OR cinnamon and cottage cheese OR black beans and pineapple salsa. YUM!

Lauren said...

Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite foods... thanks for all of the creative ideas on how to prepare them!

Tal said...

Hey there-- new to your blog-- and I was happy to see a post about my favorite-- sweet potatoes ;) Question-- do you have to eat the skin of sweet potatoes to reap all of the health benefits?


Danielle said...

Yum! I love sweet potatoes in every form... and I only discovered this on my own too. Here's to a lifetime of healthy sweets :)

Maggie said...

I love SPs!! I hate white potatoes so when I was little and my mom made potatoes, she would always make a sweet potato separately for me. I like them best with earth balance and brown sugar... but i think I'm gonna try them with brown rice syrup instead of brown sugar next time (new find!).

ChickPea said...

Nicole: I def agree:)
LoveofOats: Thanks for the great flax ideas...I wish I had that blueberry flax on hand!
VeganNurse: Yum! Pecans sound delicious!
Thanks for the raw pancake recipe--can't wait to try it!
VeggieGirl: I thought of you when I wrote this post--cuz I know how much you love your sweet potato/black bean/kale mix!
LuckyTasteBuds: SPs are definitely versatile--can't wait to hear what you come up with!
Sara: Nothin' beats plain and simple. I'll have to try the cinnamon stick method though.
Yasmin: Those two dishes sound fantastic! I might have to try that, subbing chickpeas for the tuna.
K: Haha, I hope you didn't get any ketchup on the keyboard...
Don't worry I am impatient as well--I just nuke 'em most of the time too.
Shelby: Great! Let me know if you try any of these ideas.
Anna: You are so right--a very easy way to add nutrition to any meal.
EatingBender: I'll have to try that cottage cheese idea...I still haven't been brave enough to try the savory thing with cottage cheese. Guacamole with SP sounds fab, especially if you had some black beans in there. I am adding humbecue sweet potato to my to do list:)
Joanna: SP + BBQ sounds amazing, especially if you used Annie's Smoky Maple. Yum. I *love* the skin, so I can totally see myself eating them by themselves. I am planning on adding flax to my oat bran tomorrow morning!
Sarah: All of those are wonderful ideas--I can't wait to try some of them. I especially like the pineapple salsa idea!
Lauren: Any time! Enjoy:)
Tal: Thanks for visiting and commenting! I love SP too. Yes, I do eat the skins--I love the way they taste. The added nutrition doesn't hurt either.
Danielle: You are so right--sweet potatoes *are* a great way to have healthy sweets. Maybe a little maple syrup on top wouldn't hurt though...
Maggie: Haha, that's how my house is now. Whenever I am at home for dinner and my mom is serving potatoes, she puts a sweet potato aside for me:)
Thanks for the brown rice syrup recommendation. How is it different from other sweeteners?

Marianne said...

I always put flax in my oats, and it's good in yogurt as well. You can throw it in a smoothie, in baking, on a salad...

ChickPea said...

Marianne: Hmmm on a salad? That's actually a great idea, since I use wheat germ on my salads every now and then.

Vegan On Stage said...

i serisouly think that sweet potatoes may be one of my favorite foods too..

I love to slice them SUPER thing and bake them.. .making them into chips or "fries"

hahah and flax seeds!!! well "vegan Nurse" beat me to it :)

flax seed pancakes are serisouly out of thi world