Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Incredible, Edible...Sweet Potato!

So, have I mentioned before that I love sweet potatoes? Yea. I like them. They're pretty much my favorite. They are so packed with flavor, and so hearty, and so versatile. They can be mashed and fried and baked and grilled and sweet or salty or spicy or some combination of them all. My favorite ways to eat them has been mashed or grilled, with brown sugar and butter and cinnamon. (Yum.) But, sometimes, it's nice to mix things up and throw some spice in the mix.

A while back I had tried this recipe for Crash Hot Sweet Potatoes. We thought they were pretty good, but they were kind of labor intensive. The other night, I was going to make my sweet potato chips, but I wanted to add something more interesting. So, I took the leftover spice I had from the Crash potatoes and sprinkled it over the regular chips, and wow. What a great combo! (Recipe below.)

But you know what the best part is about these tasty taters? They are absolutely jam packed with nutrients! They're so good for you, you could practically live on them. Well, maybe not, but seriously. I actually just got a new book called Fight Back with Food: Use Nutrition to Heal What Ails You.
Great book. It lists all the benefits of specific foods, as well as providing a reference for foods to help with particular ailments. Anyway, it has tooooons to say about this little root.

" sweet potato has 187% of the recommended intake for beta-carotene. Beta-carotene may help to prevent certain cancers and macular degeneration.
Caffeic acid- this phenolic compound shows promise in fighting cancer...
Insoluble fiber- When eaten with it's skin, a sweet potato is an excellent source of insoluble fiber, which may help to prevent constipation, diverticulosis, and weight gain.
Pectin- about half of the fiber in sweet potatoes is soluble pectin fiber, which may control cholesterol.
Plant Sterols- theses cholesterol-lowering compounds may reduce cancer risk by binding carcinogenic agents in the digestive tract.
Potassium- this heart-healthy mineral, found in abundance in sweet potatoes, (397 mg per potato), is associated with lower blood pressure and a lowered risk for heart disease, kidney stones, and stroke."

And that's just a sample! They also are rich in vitamin C, vitamin B6, chlorogenic acid, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
Aren't they just amazing? And doesn't it just make you feel so healthy to eat it? And they're so sweet, it's like eating dessert! Anyway, perhaps that was long and involved, but I find it fascinating! Plus, it inspires me to eat more health consciously. So, expect more excerpts from this fun book!

Spicy Sweet Potato Crisps

1 Large Sweet Potato
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Spice mix:
  • 1-½ Tablespoon Light Brown Sugar
  • ½ Tablespoons Sea Salt
  • ½ teaspoons Ground Cumin
  • ½ teaspoons Chili Powder
  • ½ teaspoons Smoked Sweet Paprika
  • ¼ teaspoons Onion Powder
  • ⅛ teaspoons Granulated Garlic Powder
  • ⅛ teaspoons Fresh Ground Black Pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Peel and slice your potato into the thinnest slices possible. If I were smart, I would use something like my food processor for ultimate thinness. But I'm too lazy to dig it out of my cupboard for one little potato. So I slice.
Layer your potato slices in a single layer in a rimmed baking sheet/pan. The less overlap, the crispier the slices will be. But, if you must overlap to avoid dirtying another pan, you must. At least, I must. As we've already established how lazy I am.
Drizzle LIGHTLY with extra virgin olive oil. I emphasize the lightly, because if you get too much, it will just be oily and...yech. The oil should form just a very thin layer over all of the potatoes. No oil hanging out in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with spice mix.
Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes have gone past the soft stage and started to crisp. If you want them crispier, keep cooking, but you do run the risk of burning some. It all just depends on how much of a dare devil you are. I like 'em crispy, and am willing to sacrifice a few.
Enjoy warm! But, they're even still good after they cool, kind of like regular potato chips.

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