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Food of the Month


Sweet Potato

Arthritis

Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-cryptoxanthin, which has been found to help in the prevention of chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. The vitamin C in sweet potatoes helps maintain collagen and reduces the risk of developing certain forms of arthritis.

Anti-Inflammatory

Sweet potato has anti-inflammatory properties thanks to the vitamin C, vitamin B6, beta-carotene, and manganese it contains. They are equally effective in easing both internal and external inflammations.

Boosts Immune System

Very rich in beta-carotene—a major antioxidant, along with vitamin C and B complex vitamins—iron and phosphorus, sweet potatoes are excellent immune system boosters that can defend your body from a wide variety of conditions and afflictions.

Blood Sugar

The carotenoids in sweet potato can help your body respond to insulin and stabilize your blood sugar. Sweet potatoes also have a significant amount of vitamin B6, supporting resistance to diabetic heart disease, and the high content of soluble fiber aids in lowering both blood sugar and cholesterol.

Digestive Tract

Sweet potatoes are a good source of dietary fiber, helping to promote a healthy digestive system. Research has found that they may also help to cleanse heavy metals such as arsenic and mercury from the digestive tract.

Muscle Cramps

A deficiency in potassium can cause muscle cramps and create a greater susceptibility to injury. Make potassium-rich sweet potatoes a regular part of your diet if you exercise a lot, both for an energy boost and to prevent cramps and injuries.

Heart Health

Sweet potatoes contain an abundance of vitamin B6 and potassium. Vitamin B6 is vital in breaking down homocysteine in the body, which plays a role in solidifying arteries and blood vessels. Potassium performs a huge role in reducing blood pressure level by eliminating excess sodium and controlling fluid balance. It is also an essential electrolyte that can help manage the natural rhythm of the heart.

Stomach Ulcers

Sweet potato is soothing for the stomach. The B vitamins, vitamin C, potassium, beta-carotene, and calcium they contain help in the healing of stomach ulcers. The fiber in sweet potatoes helps prevent constipation and acidity, consequently reducing the possibility of ulcers.

Sweet Potato or Yam?

Many people use these terms interchangeably, but they are really two different vegetables that aren’t even related.

Sweet potatoes are members of the morning glory family and come in two main varieties. One has a golden skin with creamy white flesh and a crumbly texture. The other has a copper skin with an orange flesh that is sweet and soft. All sweet potato varieties generally have the same shape and size—they are tapered at the ends and generally smaller than yams.

Americans have been calling the orange-fleshed variety of sweet potatoes “yams” since colonial times because they resembled the yams in Africa. The USDA decided to label them as “yams” to differentiate the two varieties. Today the USDA requires labels with the term “yam” to be accompanied by the term “sweet potato.” Unless you specifically search for yams, you are probably eating sweet potatoes.

Yams are native to Africa and Asia and other tropical regions. They are closely related to lilies and grasses. Yams are starchy tubers that have an almost black, bark-like skin and white, purple, or reddish flesh and come in many varieties. The tubers can be as small as regular potatoes or grow upwards of five feet long. Yams can be found in international markets, such as those that specialize in Caribbean foods.

Tips for Selecting and Storing Sweet Potato

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Selecting:

  • Choose sweet potatoes that are firm and do not have any cracks, bruises, or soft spots.
  • Avoid those displayed in the refrigerated section of the produce department, since cold temperature negatively alters their taste and produces a hard core.

Storage:

  • Sweet potatoes should be stored in a cool (below 60°F), dark, and well-ventilated place.
  • If stored properly, sweet potatoes will keep for a month or longer.
  • At normal room temperature, they should be used within a week of purchase.
  • You may brush off any excess dirt before storing, but do not wash them until you are ready to cook them, as moisture from washing may increase their spoilage.

Serving Suggestions

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  • Purée cooked sweet potatoes with bananas, maple syrup, and cinnamon. Top with chopped walnuts. The fat content of the walnuts will help you get optimal absorption of the beta-carotene in the sweet potatoes.
  • Baked sweet potatoes are delicious even when served cold and therefore make a great food to pack in to-go lunches. Poke holes in sweet potato and bake at 400° for one hour or until tender.
  • Blend cooked sweet potato flesh with milk, vanilla yogurt, honey or maple syrup, and pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice) for a delectable beverage.
  • Substitute sweet potatoes in recipes that call for white potatoes.
  • Roast them with other traditional vegetables such as parsnips and carrots.
  • They are an excellent, filling and a nutritious addition to stews and casseroles.

Recipes

1. Sweet Potato Rounds

Sweet Potato Rounds

1 1/2 lbs of sweet potatoes

2-3 tbsp of melted coconut or olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

To Make:

  1. Preheat oven to 475 °F
  2. Cut potatoes into 1/2 inch slices
  3. Combine all ingredients and spread on a cookie sheet or baking pan on a single layer.
  4. Bake for 15-18 minutes until tender.
  5. Turn the potato slices and broil until golden brown.

2. Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4

2 medium-sized sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

To Make:

  1. Bring lightly salted water to a boil in a steamer with a tight fitting lid.
  2. Place peeled and sliced sweet potatoes in steamer basket, covered, for about 10 minutes, or until tender
  3. When tender, mash with potato masher, adding rest of ingredients.

3. Spinach and Sweet Potato Sauté

Spinach and Sweet Potato Sauté

Serves 4

1 medium onion, chopped

4 medium cloves garlic, minced

1 cup + 1 tablespoon chicken or vegetable

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon coriander

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

6 oz frozen spinach, thawed

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

salt and pepper to taste

To Make:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon broth in a large stainless steel skillet. Sauté onion in broth over medium heat for 5 minutes stirring frequently.
  2. Add garlic and continue to sauté for another minute.
  3. Add spices and lemon juice and stir to mix thoroughly.
  4. Add broth and sweet potatoes.
  5. Simmer covered over low heat, stirring occasionally, until sweet potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
  6. Uncover to allow sauce to thicken and cook another couple minutes.
  7. Press water out of spinach and add to sweet potatoes.
  8. Cook uncovered for a 3-4 more minutes to allow sauce to thicken. Add cilantro, salt and pepper.

4. Sweet Potato Soup

Sweet Potato Soup

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, diced

1 shallot, diced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

3-4 medium sized sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled cut into 1-inch cubes

4 cups chicken (or vegetable) stock

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon paprika

1 -2 teaspoons salt

Fresh ground pepper

To Make:

  1. In a large pot heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and shallot and season lightly with salt and pepper.
  2. Cook onion and shallot for about 5 minutes, until translucent.
  3. Add garlic and cook two more minutes, until fragrant.
  4. Stir in sweet potatoes, stock, cinnamon, and paprika.
  5. Bring mixture to a boil. Then, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. (The sweet potatoes should be very tender.)
  6. Using a blender, stick blender, or food processor, puree the mixture (in batches, if necessary). Return the pureed mixture to the pot.
  7. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

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