Super good super foods have a lot to offer

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 16, 2018

By Deirdre Parker Smith

Watching cooking shows, reading magazines and food blogs, I keep seeing butternut squash and sweet potatoes in everything.

I have a friend who has a baked sweet potato for breakfast every day.

Both contain a slew of nutrients, particularly vitamin A. A cup of sweet potato has 377 times your recommended daily value of vitamin A and 448 mg. of potassium.

One cup of butternut squash contains 297 percent of your daily recommended vitamin A and 493 mg. of potassium, plus 48 percent of your daily value of vitamin C.

Call them super foods if you want, but just add them to your regular repertoire for the new year.

Here is a lightened version of macaroni and cheese using butternut squash

Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

8 ounces whole wheat elbow macaroni

2 cups diced, peeled butternut squash

1 3/4 cup reduced fat milk, divided

3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

2 tsp. dried rosemary

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp. ground pepper

1 1/3 cups shredded gouda cheese

2 ounces reduced fat cream cheese

2 tsp. white wine vinegar

1/4 sliced fresh chives

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Cook pasta and squash according to package instructions. Drain.

Whisk 1/4 cup milk, flour, rosemary, salt and pepper in a small bowl; place near the stove. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups milk to the saucepan. Heat over medium high heat until just simmering. Add the flour mixture and reduce heat to medium low. Cook, whisking constantly, until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in gouda, cream cheese and vinegar until the cream cheese is melted. Stir the pasta and squash into the sauce. Serve with chopped chives.

How about a super easy, flavor-laden side dish?

Maple-Chili Roasted Butternut Squash

2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

2 Tbsp. melted butter

1-3 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. salt

4 cups cubed butternut squash

4 small shallots, quartered

1 1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

Mix maple syrup, butter, chili powder and salt in a large bowl. Add squash and shallots and toss to evenly coat. Arrange in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.

Roast the vegetables, stirring once or twice, until tender, 25-30 minutes, Drizzle with vinegar before serving.

Both recipes are from Eating Well magazine.

Smoky Sweet Potato and Black Bean Casserole

Cooking spray or olive oil for the baking dish

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 (28 oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained

1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed

3 cups shredded smoked mozzarella cheese (about 7 1/2 ounces), divided

1 Tbsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. kosher salt

2 cloves garlic, minced

Plain yogurt

Fresh cilantro

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray or olive oil and set aside.

Heat the 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8-10 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and cook just until heated through, about 5 minutes (they will not be done). Transfer to a large bowl.

Add the black beans, drained tomatoes, 1 cup of the cheese, smoked paprika, salt and garlic and stir to combine. Transfer to the baking dish and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 2 cups of cheese.

Spray a large sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray or coat with olive oil. Place greased-side down over the baking dish and cover tightly. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until sweet potatoes are tender and cheese on top is browned in spots, 30 minutes more.  Let cool 10 minutes before serving topped with yogurt and cilantro.

Cut the potatoes in small cubes to reduce cooking time.

Some tasters had a hard time finding smoked mozzarella, and substituted smoked cheddar. Smoked Gouda did not melt well. Some used regular mozzarella and added chipotle chiles packed in adobo sauce to increase the smoky flavor.

One taster recommended rolling up leftovers in a flour tortilla with a scrambled egg for breakfast.


This recipe comes from cardiologist Dr. Joel K. Kahn, in his book, “The Plant Based Solution,” so you know it’s good for you.

The ingredient list is long, but it’s almost all things you keep in your pantry.

Sweet Potato Lentil Chili

Splash of water

1 3/4 cup diced onions

1 cup diced celery

2 1/2 cups diced sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1-inch cubes

3 large garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. salt

Freshly ground pepper

2 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)

1 1/4 cups dry red lentils

2 1/2 cups water

1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes

1 (15 oz.) can black or kidney beans, rinsed

1 bay leaf

3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

Lime wedges for serving

In a large pot on medium heat, add the splash of water, onions, celery, sweet potatoes, garlic, salt, pepper and spices and stir through.

Cover and simmer over medium heat for six to eight minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat if the onions are sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Rinse the lentils. Add them to the pot with the 2 1/2 cups water, tomatoes, beans and bay leaf and stir to combine. Increase the heat to bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 25 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaf and stir in the lime juice. Serve with lime wedges.

This recipe originally appeared in “Eat, Drink, & Be Vegan,” by Dreena Burton.