(Family Features) If you’re looking for a little variety to spice up your life, cooking with a versatile veggie such as the sweet potato may give your menu the satisfying kick you crave, along with a healthy dose of the nutrients your body needs.
Unlike many vegetables with a peak season that comes and goes, sweet potatoes can be found at your local grocery store year round with a consistent quality and freshness. Because they are available fresh, canned or frozen, sweet potatoes offer the ultimate flexibility for healthy and delicious menu options at any meal.
With virtually no fat and low in sodium, sweet potatoes, or yams, fit perfectly into a low-carb lifestyle, with major nutritional bonuses to boot. In addition to being a source of vitamin B-6, iron, potassium and fiber, the sweet potato provides twice the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A and more than one-third of the requirements for vitamin C.
Sweet potatoes also rank significantly lower than white potatoes in the glycemic index, which explains why many carb-counting diets encourage substituting sweet potatoes for white potatoes.
Creamy Smoked Sweet Potato Soup
Winner in the “Fresh” Category
Courtesy of Samantha Foglesong, New Orleans, La.
4 extra-large sweet potatoes (about 5 pounds)
4 cups seafood stock
2 cups heavy whipping cream
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pound fresh jumbo lump crabmeat, picked free of shells
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon thinly sliced chives
Prepare smoker to 200°F.
Smoke sweet potatoes 2 1/2–3 hours. Let cool, and peel.
In large Dutch oven, combine sweet potatoes, stock and cream. Blend on high speed with an immersion blender until smooth.
Heat over medium heat, and add 1/2 teaspoon salt, then cinnamon and nutmeg. Strain mixture through fine-mesh sieve into large bowl; discard solids.
In medium bowl, combine crab, lemon juice, red pepper, remaining salt, butter and chives.
Divide soup among bowls and top with crab mixture.
Winner in the “Canned” Category
Courtesy of Michele Carl, Masonville, Colo.
1 cup pecans
1 cup almonds
3/4 cup honey, divided
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 dried pitted dates
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cans (15 ounces each) sweet potato puree
1/2 cup apple cider
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup minced crystallized ginger
2 cups miniature marshmallows
Dark chocolate shavings for garnish
Preheat oven to 170°F.
In food processor, pulse pecans and almonds until chopped. Add 1/4 cup honey, vanilla, dates, salt, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and butter, and process until finely chopped.
Spread in thin layer on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until crispy, about 3 hours. Let cool, and cut into 3-inch squares.
Reduce oven to 250°F. Spray a 13-by-9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
In food processor, combine sweet potato, apple cider, remaining honey, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and remaining cinnamon; process until smooth. Stir in crystallized ginger.
Transfer to prepared baking dish, and cook 1 hour. Stir well, and cook 30 minutes more. Let cool to room temperature.
Increase oven to 300°F.
Spray rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Spread 1⁄2-inch layer of sweet potato butter on each cracker. Top with marshmallows, and place on prepared baking sheet; bake 10 minutes.
Sprinkle with chocolate shavings and serve.
Piquant Sweet Potato Quiche
Winner in the “Frozen” Category
Courtesy of Karen McGowan, Houston, Texas
1 bag (15-ounces) frozen sweet potato fries, thawed
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups shredded Havarti or Monterey Jack cheese
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
2 cups chopped cooked ham
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup half-and-half
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Spray 10-inch pie dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Pulse sweet potato in food processor until shredded. Transfer sweet potato to sieve and press with paper towels to remove excess moisture.
Press potato into bottom and up sides of prepared pie dish. Brush with melted butter and cover with aluminum foil. Bake until edges of crust are golden brown, 20–25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack. Reduce oven to 350°F.
Add Havarti cheese, jalapeno, Swiss cheese, ham and chives to crust in one layer.
In medium bowl, combine eggs, half-and-half, salt, paprika, pepper and cayenne. Pour evenly over cheese mixture and cover with aluminum foil.
Bake until knife inserted into center comes out clean, 30–40 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.
Tips for perfect sweet potatoes
These prize-winning recipes show you how easy it is to create unique dishes with versatile, nutritious sweet potatoes. Before you get started, remember these tips from the Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission:
- Fresh sweet potatoes can be stored for up to a month at 55°F to 65°F, but should not be refrigerated until after they are cooked.
- Always use a stainless steel knife when cutting a sweet potato; using a carbon blade will cause the yam to darken.
- One 15-ounce can of sweet potatoes equals one cup of fresh sweet potatoes.
- Canned sweet potatoes are precooked, so add them at the end of a recipe.
For more prize-winning free recipes, or to enter your recipe in the national Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission’s 2015 Sweet Rewards Recipe Contest, visit www.sweetpotato.org.
Source: Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission