A sweet spin on the standard baked potato

Sweet potato toppingsAll you have to do is taste a roasted sweet potato and you’ll be hooked. They seem so dessert-like that it’s hard to believe they’re actually healthy. But believe it, they are! The Center for Science in the Public Interest gives sweet potatoes the top spot on the organization’s list of the 10 best foods, saying they’re one of the most nutritious vegetables you can eat.

Just one medium-sized sweet potato contains enough vitamin A to exceed the recommended daily requirement, nearly a third of the recommended daily dose of vitamin C, almost 15 percent of your dietary fiber intake, and 10 percent of the necessary potassium. Thanks to these nutrients, sweet potatoes boast anti-inflammatory properties, fight cancer-causing free radicals and have a low glycemic index. Plus, they’re relatively low in calories (about 140) and are easily found at grocery stores year-round.

Selection and Storage

  • Choose sweet potatoes that are firm and don’t have any cracks, bruises or soft spots.
  • Avoid sweet potatoes stored in the refrigerated section of the produce department (cold temperatures negatively alter their taste).
  • Store them in a cool, dark and well-ventilated space. Keep them loose, or in a brown paper bag with multiple air holes, and away from sources of excess heat like the stove.
  • Properly stored sweet potatoes should stay fresh up to 10 days.
  • Try to buy organic if you can, since the skin of conventionally grown sweet potatoes may be treated with dye or wax and exposed to chemical fertilizers and pesticides. If you can’t find organic, just leave the skin behind when you eat it.

Preparation

  • To prepare a baked sweet potato, spray or rub it with a small amount of oil. Research shows that adding healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil to your sweet potato significantly increases your intake of the beta-carotene.
  • Use a metal fork to poke a few holes in each potato. This will keep them from exploding in the oven.
  • Bake the potatoes at 400 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes, or until soft. If you’re short on time, you can also pop them in the microwave.
  • Serve the potatoes by cutting each lengthwise across the top and squeezing the ends together to pop it open.

This versatile vegetable tastes delicious on its own, but is also a great vessel for all sorts of toppings.

  • Our pizza-filled sweet potato recipe is a favorite and only costs you 292 calories per serving.
  • One of the easiest and healthiest ways to bulk up your sweet potato is to add some veggies and a hint of cheese. We love to pile on broccoli sprinkled with crumbled feta cheese and cracked black pepper.
  • The Yummy Life suggests that you add some Asian flavors, and we couldn’t agree more! Top your sweet potato with sautéed vegetables such as snow peas, mushrooms and bean sprouts, plus low-sodium soy sauce and chopped peanuts and cilantro.
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth with The Yummy Life’s cheesecake-inspired sweet potato. Use low-fat ricotta cheese, honey or brown sugar and toasted nuts for a little extra crunch.
  • And finally, this decadent sweet potato creation from How Sweet It Is is stuffed with roasted grapes, goat cheese and honey.

 

Photo credit: Dave Lifson

 

 

 

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