Food & Fact: SWEET POTATO

Happy Monday everyone,

First a small announcement – the Food&Fact post will go from weekly to monthly or maybe biweekly – depending on what time will allow me. Even though I really love writing it, I do give priority to quality over quantity, so that’s that. :)

This week I was wondering about a super yummy, healthy and versatile veggie, that most people don’t use much; I was actually quite oblivious to it until I started researching vegan recipes a few years ago. So let’s shed some light on:

SWEET POTATO:

sweetpotato-pola

  • Ipomoea batatas
  • Its name means “tuberous morning glory”;
  • The plant has heart-shaped or palmately lobed leaves and sympetalous flowers. The edible root has a smooth skin whose color ranges between yellow, orange, red, brown, purple, and beige. Its flesh ranges from beige through white, red, pink, violet, yellow, orange, and purple. Sweet potato varieties with white or pale yellow flesh are less sweet and moist than those with red, pink or orange flesh;
  • Good to know: sweet potatoes are on the Clean 15 list (EWG’s 2012 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce) meaning that they should be among the fruits and veggies lowest in pesticide content;
  • Buying & Storing: choose clean, smooth and firm potatoes, avoid those with wrinkled skin, soft spots and bruises. Store in a cool and dry place, but not in the fridge, preferably in a dark paper bag, this way they should last for about a month;
  • A good source of:
  1. Phytonutrientssuper rich in beta-carotene, which acts as antioxidant, and is converted in vitamin A inside the body; anthocyanin and other color-related pigments in sweet potato have an anti-inflammatory effect in the body, furthermore, one of them, fibrinogen  is one of the key glycoproteins in the body that is required for successful blood clotting;
  2. Fiber:
  3. VITAMINS: excellent source of vitamin A ( 438.1% of daily value in 1 cup) and vitamin C (37.2% of daily value in 1 cup), good source of vitamins B6, B5 and B3;
  4. MINERALS: magnesium, potassium (the latter is is used in higher amounts by the body in times of stress), calcium, iron, copper;
  • Actions: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti cancer, heart protective, blood-sugar regulating, good for your skin;
  • Culinary uses: can be cooked, steamed, baked, roasted, used in soups, mashed, used as base for desserts, juiced (tried-yummy);
  • Ayurveda: sweet potatoes are not part of the nightshade family, but of the morning glory one, so they can be usually eaten by people, who have trouble digesting white potatoes. They are warm and heavy in nature and mildly laxative, they can create gas. Counteract the latter by preparing them with ginger and cinnamon;
  • Interesting and useful: beta-carotene absorbs much better in the body, when consumed with a small amount of fat, so prepare your sweet potatoes with some healthy oil/butter to really reap all the benefits. Lots of nutrients are also hidden in the skin, try consuming them unpeeled (but well scrubbed). Sweet potatoes have a low glycemic-index (GI), meaning better blood-sugar effect, and steaming or boiling them, instead of baking, helps preserve it.

SWEET POTATO JUICE (recipe found here):

  • 1 sweet potato, peeled
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 large slice pineapple, peeled, cored, about ½ cup 
  • 1/4 inch slice of ginger root, peeled

Toss all ingredients in the juicer, let it do its magic and enjoy!

I am currently experimenting with green smoothies (can be seriously yummy stuff), writing down recipes and observing the effects. I can say, it is going very well for now, I will keep you updated and share my “discoveries”. :)

Until then enjoy your fruits and veggies!

Happy Monday!

Maja

p.s.: As always, the words in blue contain a link to the Glossary, where you can check the meaning of some terms used in the post.

Resources:

- The Vegetarian Cook’s Bible: Pat Crocker,

The Ayurvedic Cookbook: Amedea Morningstar with Urmila Desai,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_potato

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=64

http://www.naturalnews.com/034135_sweet_potatoes_nutrition.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beta-Carotene

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/beta-carotene

http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/

- sweet potato juice recipe

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