Friday, February 15, 2013

Food Focus Friday: Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes ... Not to be confused or compared with their counterpart, the white potato, these spuds pack a powerful punch! While I won't be going into the details of the difference between white and sweet potatoes (I'll save that for another post), sweet potatoes are often listed as an athlete "superfood." Let's see why!!

Nutrition Facts: 1 medium sweet potato
103 kcal
0g fat
2g protein
24g carbohydrate (4g fiber)

Benefits of sweet potatoes:

Nutrient dense
Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of fiber, Vitamin A (438% of your daily value!!), Vitamin C (37% DV) and the antioxidant beta carotene. In fact, sweet potatoes contain more beta carotene than any other fruit or vegetable! They also contain calcium, B6, potassium and protein.

Low glycemic index
The high fiber and high water content of sweet potatoes leaves you feeling full and satisfied for a VERY long time and have less of an effect on blood sugar levels (when compaired to white potatoes).

Inexpensive and versatile
If you like the more traditional sweet potato, simply bake and eat whole or mashed with a little bit of cinnamon, brown sugar and butter (in moderation!). For a little change of pace, I suggest trying them in smoothies, baked goods (including pancakes), in a salad or stuffed with beans and salsa (see recipes below).

Naturally a gluten-free source of complex carbohydrate
Unless you're buying the powdered version (I wouldn't recommend it), sweet potatoes are a great whole food source of compex carbohydrate and naturally gluten free.

Ideal for athletes
Sweet potatoes are great for athletes because, again, they're a nutrient-dense source of complex carbohydrates, which is ideal for long-lasting energy. Since they have a low-glycemic index, they digest slowly and prevent spikes in blood glucose, helping you to feel energized without "crashing" later. They're also a source of iron (4% DV in 1 serving), which assists with optimal oxygen production during workouts and potassium and calcium aid in muscle contraction. Finally, the high antioxidant content of sweet potatoes will help protect against the inflammatory effects of exercise and assist in muscle recovery.

Here's a few ways I've been enjoy sweet potatoes lately:

Mexican Stuffed Sweet Potato

1 cooked sweet potato

1 cup edamame (w/o shell)
1 red pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup corn
1 can black beans

Toppings: Avocado, Salsa, Taco seasoning (low-sodium)
Optional: Cheese, Plain Greek Yogurt

Warm a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and saute onion/garlic for 1-2 minutes. Add remaining ingredients (except sweet potato, avocado and salsa) and saute another 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with taco seasoning to taste. Add 1/2-1 cup topping to each sweet potato and add diced avocado and salsa to taste. For a little smaller portion, use just 1/2 sweet potato. Like I said, they're quite filling!!

Sweet Potato Pancakes

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups whole wheat flour
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Wet ingredients: 
1 sweet potato- baked, peeled and mashed
1 banana, mashed (the riper the better)
2 cups vanilla soy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Mash sweet potato and banana thoroughly, then whisk together with milk and vanilla. Stir wet ingredients into the dry, stir until completely mixed and smooth. Cook on the griddle at 250 F. I suggest using 1/4 cup batter for each pancake and spreading them thin so they cook through the middle.

Sweet Potato Chips

As seen on the blog here.

Sweet Potato Quinoa Black Bean Burgers

Pictured here as an open-faced sandwich w/ salad mix & avocado
These are easy to put together and freeze well for when you need a quick meal!

Sweet Potato Fries

I don't have a recipe for you but these sweet potato fries
from my workplace were delicious!!!

There you have it for today's food focus friday. Hope you enjoyed learning a little more about sweet potatoes and will incorporate more of it into your menu this next week! For additional recipe ideas, check out the links below:

(Make vegetarian/vegan by substituting tofu)

Until Next Time,

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