This weeks Trumpeting Tuesday focuses on Ana from Healthooray, an awesome health focused blog based in Canada. Ana has been an awesome support person over the past few weeks and I’m really excited to have her contribute today
Hi, everyone! Ana here guest, posting on Eating with Katie. Thank you to the wonderful Katie for inviting me over for a virtual vegan lunch, I am very grateful! I am stoked to do this guest post, because this is the first one in my life! So, I am savouring every moment of it.
I run a health-oriented, plant-based blog so, naturally, I am bringing to you a savoury, plant-based dish perfect for dinners and lunches, and especially for take-your-lunch-to-work kind of days (which should be most days but I’m not judging). Instead of buying a sad sandwich somewhere around the corner, you open your lunch box and there it is – creamy, yummy, filling and healthy. Oh, let me explain the “deconstructed” bit. I initially intended to make constructed kind of skins. But the lazy person in me decided it’s too much work to stuff them back into the skins and bake them, and just decided to leave them be – free and deconstructed. Oh, and please add in some avocados and sauerkraut on the side. Besides getting your probiotics and healthy fats, it really completes the meal.
Over at Healthooray, with every recipe I have a section called “Ingredient Limelight” where I talk about a specific ingredient from the recipe, highlighting what it does to our bodies, what it has in terms of vitamins and minerals, if there’s anything we should lookout for, as well as, forms, varieties and cooking. Today let’s take a look at sweet potatoes:
INGREDIENT LIMELIGHT: Sweet Potato
What it is: Sweet potato is a root vegetable and it is very distantly related to potatoes (think 19th cousin) and does not come from the nightshade family (of which potatoes, eggplants are part of). Sweet potatoes origins date back to 8,000BC in South America, and about 5,000BC Central America, so they’ve been around for quite a while. They like a steady warm temperature and no frost, so they are grown in warmer places (China being the leader of sweet potato production – and half of their production being used to feed livestock). What’s interesting, Papua New Guinea is the leader of sweet potato consumption, with about 500KG consumed per person per year.
What it does: Sweet potato is a gem of a potato. It has antioxidants, anthocyanins (purple kind), fiber, vitamins and minerals. So, as I mentioned in my expose on carrots, orange or yellow colored vegetables are high in beta carotene, the precursor to vitamin A in the body. And, just like with carrots, beta carotene becomes more available to humans when you steam, boil or roast the potato and add a little fat to it. A Harvard University study showed that people eating foods rich in carotenoids had 32% less chances of getting lung cancer. Another study on women, showed that women with the highest concentration of carotenoids in the blood (meaning, those who eat a lot of beta carotene rich foods) had their chances to get a cancer recurrence significantly lowered. Also, beta carotene is transformed in vitamin A in our bodies which protects our eye sight, immune function, skin and many other things. The purple sweet potato has anthocyanins, just like the eggplant. But unlike eggplant that has anthocyanins in its skin, purple sweet potato has it in its flesh too. Other types of sweet potatoes have color-related pigments. These color-related pigments along with anthocyanins have been shown to lower inflammation in the brain and nerve tissue of animals. This area, though, needs a lot more studies to be performed on humans to fully understand the function of these color-related pigments. Another understudied component of sweet potatoes is something called resin glycosides which are sugar and starch related molecules. Some studies show that they might have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, but further research is needed in this area as well. The fiber content is high in sweet potatoes, and it lowers cholesterol, regulates blood sugar, and improves digestion and elimination. And if that’s not enough, it is a very good source of B6 which is responsible in lowering homocysteine in our bodies. Homocysteine is one of the causes of hardening of the arteries and blood vessels, so sweet potato offers protection to the cardiovascular system. So what’s exciting about sweet potatoes, is that, besides all the wonderful known things it does to human health, there are areas still to be researched and explored that can explain even further health benefits of this wonderful vegetable.
What it has: Sweet potato is an excellent source of beta carotene (vitamin A), a very good source of vitamin C, manganese, copper, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid. It is also a good source of fiber, biotin, potassium, vitamins B1, 2 and 3.
What to lookout for: Sweet potatoes can be considered somewhat high in oxalates. To read more about oxalates, head on over here.
Forms, varieties and cooking: Most commonly, you can find yellow or orange sweet potatoes in the stores. However there are a ton of types of sweet potatoes and the flesh color may vary from white, yellow and orange to red, pink, violet and purple (and their health benefits differ based on their respective color pigments too). I’ve heard that purple sweet potatoes are even sweeter than the regular ones we usually find in stores. Also, yams and sweet potatoes are not interchangeable. In fact, yams are not even a part of sweet potato family (let’s call them acquaintances) and have a different nutritional profile. In North America, though, “yams” and “sweet potatoes” are used interchangeably, so if you are looking for the real yam, then check out an international market more focused on tropical fruits and vegetables. In terms of cooking – your hands are free to do whatever you want. From roasting, boiling and steaming to stir frying, pan frying and even dehydrating. And the recipes are endless – salads, soups, mashed potatoes, pies, spreads. You name it!
Deconstructed Southwestern Sweet Potato Skins
4 sweet potatoes
3 cups corn (fresh or frozen and defrosted)
2 cups cooked black beans
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, diced
3 Tablespoons tahini paste
1/4 cup Daiya cheese (optional)
Spices and seasoning:
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon coriander
Sea salt, to taste
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400F. Bake whole sweet potatoes (directly on the rack), until a knife can be inserted easily. It should take about an hour, depending on the size of your sweet potato. Or, you can boil them until a knife is easily inserted in the middle.
Step 2: Meanwhile, sauté onions in a bit of coconut oil until browned. Add defrosted corn (or fresh) and just leave it there, don’t mix for a minute or so to achieve some browning on the corn kernels. Add the liquid smoke and diced green pepper, mix. When green peppers have softened (it should take a couple of minutes) add in the cooked black beans and mix.
Step 3: Check on your sweet potatoes, if they are ready, take them out, wait for them to cool and then cube them to match (very roughly) the size of the green peppers and add to the corn-bean mixture. At this stage, if your corn-bean mixture is ready, set it aside in the pan and then put it back on medium heat when you add in the cubed sweet potatoes. Add the spices and salt to taste. Mix in the tahini paste and Daiya cheese, if using.
Step 4: Heat through and wait until everything is melty and creamy. Munch!