Monday, February 8, 2010

Sweet Potatoes

Do you only think about sweet potatoes when Thanksgiving rolls around? If so, you might want to think about serving this "super" food more often. Sweet potatoes top the list of the Center for Science in the Public Interest's most nutritious vegetables for good reason! They are a great source of vitamin A and a good source of vitamins E, C, manganese, potassium, fiber, and some of the B vitamins. Best of all, sweet pototaoes are sweet and yummy. Kids love this bright orange vegetable, even when it is not buried in sugary melted marshmallows!

Here are some of our favorite ways to serve sweet potatoes:

Cover 4 peeled and cubed sweet potatoes in a partially covered pot until soft, about 15-20 minutes. Drain. Mash them with 1 Tablespoon of butter, a little milk, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Baked: Sweet Potato Casserole

2 medium sweet potatoes
2 Tablespoons dried cranberries
1 tsp. grated orange peel
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
dash ground nutmeg
3 Tablespoons flaked coconut
1 Tablespoon tub margarine

Place the sweet potatoes in a saucepan, cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes or just until tender, drain. When cool enough to handle, peel sweet potato and place in a bowl, mash. Stir in cranberries, orange peel, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Transfer to a greased 1 ½ cup baking dish. Stir coconut into tub margarine, sprinkle over the top of casserole. Bake, uncovered at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden.
Yield: approx. 8, ¼ cup servings (depending on size of sweet potatoes)

Crediting information: 1, ¼ cup serving, is creditable for one serving of fruit/vegetable at any meal for 3-5 year old children.

Baked: Sweet Potato "Fries"
Peel 2 large sweet potatoes and cut into "french-fry" sized pieces (approx. 3" by 1/2"). Place fries in a large bowl and drizzle with 1 Tablespoon of olive or canola oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Toss until the fries are evenly coated. Place fries on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 425 degrees until browned, turning fries once so all sides cook evenly.

*Also, see the "sweet potato puffs" recipe on my 12/17/09 blog post.

If you are in a rush, you can microwave sweet potatoes. Scrub the sweet potatoes with a vegetable brush and poke a few holes in the skin with a fork. Microwave sweet potatoes for about 5 mintues, turning once during the cooking process (cooking time may vary depending on how many potatoes you are cooking and their size). Let the sweet potatoes sit for a few minutes before peeling and mashing.

When you are buying sweet potatoes, look for firm sweet potatoes with no signs of bruising or soft spots. Store them in a dry, unrefrigerated bin.

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