Wednesday, May 20, 2009

baked sweet potatoes

Growing up, my absolute number one favorite item on the Thanksgiving menu (possibly even ahead of pie) was candied yams. Once a year (and occasionally at Christmas) I had the privilege of biting into this amazingly sweet, brightly colored vegetable. Of course, it was doused in loads of butter and brown sugar and topped with marshmallows so what was not to love for an 11-year old with a sweet tooth? It was practically dessert smashed in with turkey and mashed potatoes and the smattering of green vegetables on the table.

At some point in my adult years I discovered that sweet potatoes are available at grocery stores year-round! I also discovered that sweet potatoes are naturally sweet and do not require all of that butter and brown sugar and certainly not the marshmallows for every day eating. As a result of this epiphany, I started incorporating sweet potatoes into my diet more and more. Especially after seeing it consistently land in all kinds of super food top 5 lists for its vitamins, minerals and fiber. Did you know the sweet potato is a super food all star? Similar to carrots, bright orange sweet potatoes contain beta-carotene and Vitamin A. They also offer Vitamin C, potassium and are a fat free Vitamin E source. Wait, did you catch the part about being fat free? If that isn't enough, sweet potatoes also contain the uber-trendy buzz word of the day: antioxidants. You get the picture, they are good for you.

But also, and this is the really important part, they taste delicious without a lot of work. Or really any work if you just bake them. Baked sweet potatoes are sweeter than any other mode of preparation and baking makes the texture smoother since slow baking changes the starch to malt sugar and some of the malt sugar to caramelized sugar, which equals yum!

And baking a sweet potato is the simplest form of cooking. This morning when I got back from the gym I realized I had eaten all of my leftover pasta from the weekend and didn't have anything to take to work for dinner. But what I did have were a couple of sweet potatoes in my fridge. So, prior to jumping in the shower, I followed these simple steps:

  • heat the oven to 400 degrees
  • line a baking sheet with foil
  • scrub sweet potatoes (I just cooked 2 this morning)
  • poke sweet potatoes with a fork all over
  • dribble a bit of olive oil on top (this is optional)
  • bake for 45 minutes

And that was it! By the time I got out of the shower and readied myself for work, the sweet potatoes were ready! I simply plopped each potato in a tupperware container and I had a dinner to go for today and one for tomorrow!

Curious about what to do with it once it is cooked? Here's what I do:

Slice it open and add a little butter and cinnamon

it is like a mini-Thanksgiving treat in May!
or - and this is my new favorite thing when I take it one to work - grab some plain yogurt I prefer Fage 0% Greek yogurt for its deliciousness

dollop the yogurt on top and enjoy!

Paprika and butter is another favorite combo of mine but at work I generally stick with just the yogurt for the convenience factor. And let me tell you, it is a satisfying meal in and of itself, or you can serve it as a side dish.

I have some other fun and tasty sweet potato options I'll have to share with you later, but in the meantime, tell me how you like your sweet potatoes.


michele said...

i like mine with butter and salt and pepper. mmm.

Tiffany said...

I usually do cinnamon and sugar on mine, but I am in love with your yogurt idea! Mmmm!

katie said...

I think I'm afraid. I'd probably have to add a lot of butter and sugar to help me eat it, and what's the point of that?
I'm still needing to try the oatmeal.

RJHnrksn said...

Totally lovin' the baked sweet potato fries right now! Same concept, except cut into fry shape, then toss in a little bit of olive oil, add a little bit of salt pepper, and I like fresh grated nutmeg on mine, bake until golden and a tad crispy, they have to be turned and babysat though because of the sugar in them, they tend to burn easily....but sooooooooo worth it!!!

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