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Warm up your meals with savory sweet potatoes

By Deirdre Parker Smith

deirdre.smith@salisburypost.com

If it’s apple season, that means it’s also sweet potato season, and that’s a very good thing, as Martha Stewart would say.

If you limit your sweet potato experiences to the super sweet Thanksgiving dish that’s covered with marshmallows, you are missing out. Thanks to our expanding knowledge of how good a sweet potato is for you — let’s start with fiber, beta-carotene, vitamin A (769% of your daily value) and potassium — we are finding them in more different places, seasons and dishes.

A sweet potato even has 4 grams of protein, so it would make a good breakfast. They have carbs, yes, but complex carbs that will keep you full, and they are packed with antioxidants. Because of the fiber, sweet potatoes are good for gut health, which seems to be the key to many other health benefits for your body.

It’s the beta carotene that’s good for your vision, and it is converted to vitamin A in your body. And vitamin A is great for your immune system.

A few quick ideas to get started:

• Sweet potato toast — cut thin slices, toast and top with nut butter or avocado for a powerful breakfast or snack.

• Mashed sweet potatoes — peel, boil and mash with orange juice and seasonings. Or use milk.

• Make your hash browns with sweet potatoes for a savory/sweet combo.

• Spiralize it, sauté in olive oil with a little garlic and top the “noodles” any way you want.

• Definitely use sweet potatoes in baked goods to add moisture without fat.

• Use coconut, olive or avocado oil to help your body absorb the beta-carotene.

You don’t always need a recipe. Try these quick combinations:

• Mash sweet potatoes with cooked turnip for a side dish;

• Mash sweet potatoes and add chunks of apples or applesauce;

• Mash sweet potatoes with orange juice, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. No added sugar necessary;

• Roast chunks of sweet potatoes on a sheet pan, by tossing with olive oil, salt and pepper, for a savory side dish;

• Top a baked sweet potato with a little sour cream, bacon and a splash of maple syrup;

• Stir par-boiled sweet potatoes into your kale while sautéing.

• Sweet potatoes and black beans play well together. Use it as a filling for tacos or quesadillas.

Creamy Spinach Sweet Potato Noodles with Cashew Sauce

1 cup cashews

3/4 cup water

1/2 tsp. salt

1 clove garlic

1 Tbsp. oil

4 sweet potatoes (spiralized)

2 cups baby spinach

1 handful fresh basil leaves or other herb

Salt and pepper

Olive oil (for drizzling)

Cover cashews with water in a bowl and soak for 2 hours or so. Drain and rinse thoroughly. Place in a food processor or blender and add 3/4 cup water, salt and garlic. Puree until very smooth.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the sweet potatoes; toss in the pan for 6-7 minutes until crisp-tender. Remove from heat and toss in spinach.

Add half of the herbs and half of the sauce to the pan and toss to combine. Add water if mixture is too sticky. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and top with remaining herbs.

Use the remaining sauce for a second batch of sweet potatoes and spinach or on any other vegetable.

Make the recipe your own by adding caramelized onions or your favorite hot sauce. If you do not want a vegetarian recipe, add cooked bacon or cooked Italian sausage.

Pinch of Yum

Roasted Parmesan Herb Sweet Potatoes

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into small cubs

3 Tbsp. olive oil

4 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

2 tsp. Italian seasoning

1 tsp. garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Parsley, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat a large baking pan with non-stick cooking spray or line with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the olive oil, Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Add diced potatoes and toss to coat.

Spread potatoes in an even layer onto a prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until lightly browned and crispy. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.

Sprinkle with extra Parmesan cheese and parsley or another herb.

If the potatoes are not crisping, remove from oven and toss in a large skillet until desired doneness.

Pumpkin’ n Spice

Chicken Broccoli and Sweet Potato Sheet Pan Dinner

2 medium sweet potatoes (peeled, diced, about 3 cups)

4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided

1 1/2 ponds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into bite-sized pieces)

4 cups broccoli florets

1/2 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic

3/4 tsp. dried thyme

3/4 tsp. sage

3/4 tsp. rosemary

3/4 tsp. dried parsley

1/8 tsp. nutmeg

Salt and pepper

1/2 cup pecans

1/3 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place sweet potatoes in a mound on a rimmed 18-by-13 inch baking sheet.Pour 1 Tbsp. olive oil over the top and toss to coat. Spread in an even layer and roast in preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Chop and prep remaining ingredients.

Remove sweet potatoes from oven, season and add chick pieces, broccoli florets and onion around sweet potatoes.

Sprinkle with garlic and drizzle with remaining olive oil, especially on broccoli and toss to coat. Sprinkle with thyme, sage, parsley and rosemary and nutmeg, season with salt and pepper and toss again.

Return to oven and roast 16-20 minutes, stirring halfway through, until chicken registers 165 degrees in center.

Toss in pecans and cranberries and serve.

Cooking Classy

Cinnamon and Spice Sweet Potato Bread

About 1 1/2 cups mashed sweet potatoes (2 medium or 1 very large)

3 Tbsp. water

2 large eggs

1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil

1/4 cup buttermilk (or yogurt, Greek yogurt, sour cream or buttermilk powder)

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed

2 tsp. baking soda

1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp. ground allspice

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

Pinch salt, optional and to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray one 9-by-5-inch loaf pan or two 8-by-4-inch loaf pans or a 10-cup Bundt pan, or a muffin pan with floured cooking spray or grease and flour the pans. Set aside.

Peel the sweet potatoes and chop them into 1-inch chunks. Place in a large, shallow microwave safe bowl and add 3 Tbsp.water.

Cover with plastic wrap and cook on high for 15-17 minutes, or until potatoes are very fork tender. Pour off any water, mash sweet potatoes with a fork. Allow to cool a bit so you don’t scramble the eggs. To the sweet potatoes, add the eggs, oil, buttermilk and vanilla and whisk until combined. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients — flour, sugars, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice, cloves and a pinch of salt and stir to incorporate well. Add the sweet potato mixture and stir well, but do not over mix.

Put batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 60-70 minutes in the 9-by-5 loaf pan or until top is domed and golden and a cake tester comes out clean.

Tent the pan with foil in the last 15 minutes of cooking if the trop is browning too much. 8-by-4 loaves should take 40-45 minutes; the Bundt about 1 hour; and muffins 18-20, always testing for doneness with a cake tester.

Allow bread to cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack to cool. Keeps at room temp about 1 week.

Averie Cooks

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