Monday, January 31, 2011

Loaded, Sweet Potato Mash

Sweet potatoes are often relegated to one day a year - Thanksgiving.  Even then, they're usually loaded with brown sugar, butter, and topped with a layer of marshmallows. Now, far be it from me to knock this American classic but, the health benefits, along with it's satisfying texture and taste, should make this a more regularly relished spud.

Why it's so sweet:
- high levels of beta-carotene
- rich source of vitamin A
- unique anti-oxidant properties
- contains anti-inflammatory nutrients
- contains:  vitamin C, manganese, copper, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, iron… as well as many other health-promoting benefits.

I myself have "feared" simple starches because of how some get converted into simple sugars by our digestive tract. However, research shows that sweet potatoes actually improve blood sugar regulation.  Now, I don't pretend to fully understand all the ins and outs of this point but, suffice it to say, this is one stellar tuber that I enjoy incorporating into my family's diet.

Most recently, we enjoyed it in the form of this Loaded, Sweet Potato Mash.  A combination of baked sweet potatoes, fresh green onions and a few black beans comes together in a side that is filling, nutritious and delicious.  What more could a hungry girl ask for?

Shopping List:
2 med./lg. sweet potatoes (often labeled as "yams" in the grocery store)
about 4 sprigs, green onions
1 c. black beans
milk alternative
salt & pepper

mixing bowl
microwave (or you could bake them in the oven)
hand held, electric mixer

Preparation:  Wash sweet potatoes well but don't peel.  Prick skin with fork 6-8 times all around before placing in microwave.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Turn over.  Cook for 5 more minutes.  While potatoes bake, chop up about 1/3 to 1/2 c. green onions and drain and rinse black beans.  Once potatoes are soft all the way through, cut off and discard ends.  Cut remaining potatoes into about 1/2 inch rounds and place in mixing bowl.  Pour in a splash of milk alternative (measurement not exact here; kind of depends on your texture preference).  With electric mixer on low, slowly begin to mix potatoes, gradually increasing speed as potatoes mash.  Once you've achieved a desirable texture (I personally like mine a little chunky), blend in black beans and green onions.  Sprinkle with salt and crushed black pepper to taste.  Then, enjoy.

You may lose a lot of heat in the mixing process, so you might need to zap your sweet potato mash or stick in in the oven to come out warm with the rest of your dinner.

This recipe also lends itself really well to a healthy, lunchtime option.  Granted, it does take about 10 minutes in the microwave which might be a little bit awkward in the office lunch line but, if you grabbed a sweet po'tater', a handful of green onions and black beans on your way out the door, this would be a tasty, filling lunch time meal.

You may also prefer this dish with the potato skins peeled.  I don't know!!!

What I do know, is that if you want to eat healthy but you're scared that being healthy = being annoyingly hungry, then this might be a nice, new addition to your healthy, tasty, hunger-squelching food arsenal.


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