NC’s Seasonal Sensation – The Sweet Potato

A patient of Dr. Joel Schneider of Wake Heart & Vascular presented him with this anatomically correct sweet potato in Nov. 2009. Click on the image for more information.

Yesterday I posted NC’s No-diet Diet featuring a list of seasonal fruits and vegetables grown right here in our state. As promised, here is the first round of healthy recipes showcasing this month’s seasonal sensation  – all to help you get healthy in 2011.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, enjoy these healthy recipes with the ones you love, both starring February’s most charming vegetable – the sweet potato. Packed with nutrients like vitamins A, C, iron and fiber, sweet potatoes top the list of heart-healthy choices.

Balsamic Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Serves 4, Serving size: ½ cup

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cracked Pepper to taste
1/8 tsp fresh whole nutmeg, grated (or ground nutmeg if not available)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss sweet potatoes in oil. Drizzle potatoes with a small amount of balsamic vinegar and toss well to combine. Season with salt, cracked pepper and grated nutmeg. Spread potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet. (Use more than one baking sheet if needed.) Every 5 to 7 minutes, take the potatoes out of the oven and drizzle more vinegar over the potatoes. Toss well each time to evenly coat the potatoes in the vinegar. Bake for 35 minutes or until browned and tender.

For more variety, try the same technique roasting a large sliced onion with the sweet potatoes. Baking variation: Spread onions on separate baking sheet and lower the oven temperature to 350°F. Bake the onions for 20 minutes or until caramelized and remove from oven. Continue baking the sweet potatoes. Combine when done. Top the balsamic roasted potatoes and onions with ¼ cup of toasted pecans and serve as a side dish with lean meat, fish or over a bed of salad greens.

Per serving:  130 calories; 5 g fat; 0 g sat; 0 mg cholesterol; 24 g carbohydrates; 4 g sugar; 2 g protein; 3 g fiber; 323 mg sodium; 429 mg potassium

Sweet Potato Custard
Serves 6 Serving Size: 1/2 cup

1 large sweet potato
2 ripe bananas
1 cup evaporated skim milk
2 tbsp packed brown sugar
2 beaten egg yolks (or 1/3 cup egg substitute)
1/2 tsp salt
Nonstick cooking spray
1/4 cup raisins
1 tbsp sugar1 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake the sweet potato for 35 minutes or until completely roasted and tender. Lower the oven’s temperate to 325°F.

Once the sweet potato has cooled, remove the skin. In a medium bowl mash the sweet potato and the banana and stir well to combine. Add milk and blend well. Add brown sugar, egg yolks and salt. Mix well. Spray a 1-quart casserole with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer sweet potato and banana mixture to casserole dish.

In a separate bowl, combine raisins, sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the top of the sweet potato and banana mixture. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean.

Per serving:  144 calories; 2 g fat; less than 1 g of saturated fat; *92 mg cholesterol; 3 g fiber; 235 mg sodium. *Using egg substitutes will lower cholesterol.

Provided by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s heart healthy Keep The Beat cookbook

Kristen Klecha, RD, is a clinical dietitian at WakeMed Cary Hospital

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