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Ever since Science In The Public Interest (CSPI) named sweet potatoes as the most nutritious vegetable decades ago, I have included these complex carbohydrates in my diabetes diet plan. They are one of the oldest vegetables consumed by humans and have been used for food in Peru for more than 10,000 years. Yes, sweet potatoes are a wonderful source of natural sweetness, which can be used by diabetics in myriad ways to help us when we want no added sugars. And, these roots are bursting with vitamins, minerals, unique root proteins and fiber, too. So, is your problem that you need better recipes than those tired, sugar-laden “yams” at Thanksgiving? Well, you can have lots more choice now about how to use this natural treat! Let’s get started!
Sweet potatoes scored a whopping 184 on the vegetable nutrition scale at CSPI and that’s 100 points beyond the second highest vegetable! Simple sweet potatoes are a nutritional powerhouse that you need in your arsenal, and just about everyone loves them; they are easy for children and elders to eat when every “bite” counts for small appetites but big nutrition needs.
One medium sweet potato is very filling, and helps produce satiety for only 130 calories and contains huge amounts of beta-carotene Vitamin A for eye health and wound healing (both important for diabetics) and for a healthy immune system, as well as folate (an important B vitamin needed for stress), Vitamin C, Vitamin E, potassium, protein (2.5gm), carbohydrates (32 – 4 = 28gm) and fiber (4 gm).
There is more fiber in one medium sweet potato than in a bowl of oatmeal (which is a gluten grain, and is therefore a possible food allergy source). You need fiber to act like a broom to push your food through your digestive system and scour intestinal walls well enough to keep them clean so you can absorb your food. Only fiber does this job.
There are 2 kinds of vegetable fibers in food: soluble and insoluble. The insoluble ones act as brooms as just described, and the soluble fibers help you to keep your digestive system moist and moving by absorbing and retaining natural moisture from what you eat and the water you drink. Therefore elimination is easier. Fiber slows down the digestion of a meal and therefore, for diabetics, it means that you produce blood sugars at a more even pace, without spikes.
The potassium in sweet potatoes helps to protect you from heart disease and stroke, as well as giving healthy nerve function (something important to diabetics at risk for neuropathy). And, as sweet potatoes are one of the most pH alkaline foods known, they will aid your need to alkalize your whole body and prevent the junk-food, wrong-food and metabolic ACID sources from killing you or robbing your Health.
The folate and B6 (both are B vitamins) in sweet potatoes are an essential part of a necessary-for-everyone program to reduce homocysteine levels in your body, as the inflammation from homocysteine production is what damages your arteries (causing cardiovascular diease) and weakening other vital tissues.
The orange-colored beta carotene is a natural anti-inflammatory and a powerful anti-oxidant which is protective against breast, prostate and cervical cancers, as well as inhibiting the artery damage from oxidized cholesterol (without this help, arterial plaque formation from oxidized cholesterol closes-off arteries). And, beta carotene has been proven to aid memory retaining abilities in elders.
There are more than 400 different varieties of sweet potatoes, which are members of the morning-glory botanical family and they are different from true yams. Sweet potatoes may be varied in shape and color, so be sure to ask your produce manager. They may be white, orange, red, yellow or purple and may be shaped like a rounded potato or be tapered at the ends.
Columbus brought the native American sweet potatoes to Europe and the Portuguese explorers took it to Africa, Asia and India. Africa already had true yams as a foundational food. China, Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan, India and Uganda produce most of the world’s sweet potatoes, so you may want to find out where yours are grown if you have concerns about eating foreign-produced food.
Also avoid any which have been kept in your market’s cold section, as this alters their chemistry.
Organic sweet potatoes enable you to consume the skin as well, and it contains a lot of fiber.
The flesh of sweet potatoes will darken upon contact with the air, so you should cook them immediately after cutting them. If this is not possible, then to prevent oxidation, you must keep them in a bowl of water where they are covered completely, until you are ready to cook them.
NOTE: Oxalates are naturally-occuring substances in plants, animals and humans, but if you suffer from untreated kidney disease, you need to pay attention to the amounts of oxalates you ingest. Sweet potatoes, spinach, rhubarb and some other foods are oxalate sources of varying strengths, so consult your physician if you need to.
Now, on to the recipes! We’ll start with snacks, then on to soups, sauces, main dish, salad, beverage and dessert. Amazing, isn’t it.
Roasted Sweet Potato ‘Nickels’
Pre-heat oven to 350.F
Use organic sweet potatoes so you do NOT have to peel them. OR
Peel sweet potatoes one by one only, and slice into 1/4 inch slices.
IMMEDIATELY paint them with a mixture of half butter or ghee and half olive oil
(you can experiment with adding a little spice to this mix; choose from: ginger, cayenne, garlic)
Place the oiled slices on a sprayed cookie sheet.
Sprinkle with whole sea salt
Bake at 350 for approximately 30 minutes. Keep a close watch on them. If you cut them differently, you can use much the same technique to make oven-baked sweet potato “fries”, but you must watch them carefully, as they brown quickly, due to caramelizing their natural sugars.
Serve as desired, with dips or not. You can also use these rounds as the basis of an hors d’ouvre when you add a tiny bit of cheese to melt on them just as they finish cooking.
Carrot Coconut Soup
Prep and Cook Time: 30 minutes
1 large onion or part of a leek, each chopped finely
2 TBS fresh ginger, sliced or grated
4 medium cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 tsp curry powder
1 TBS + 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups sliced carrots, quartered then sliced about ¼ inch thick OR just use more sweet potato
1 cup sweet potato, cut into about ½ inch cubes
5 oz canned lite coconut milk
whole sea salt and white pepper or cayenne pepper to taste
Garnish: chopped cilantro and sushi ginger
Chop onion and let it sit for at least five minutes to bring out its hidden health benefits.
Heat 1 TBS broth in a medium soup pot. Sauté onion in broth over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often.
Add garlic, ginger and continue to sauté for another minute.
Add curry powder and mix well with onions.
Add broth, carrots, and sweet potato and simmer on medium medium-high heat until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.
Next, add the coconut milk.
Blend the soup in batches making sure blender is not more than half full. When it’s hot, and the blender is too full, it can erupt and burn you.
Add sea salt and pepper to taste.
Return to soup pot and reheat.
Garnish with cilantro and sushi ginger.
Based on: http://www.walford.com/recipe.htm
The Longest Recipe in the World: Dr. Roy Walford, MD’s Sauce a l’Afrique
This is a fun recipe to do with your children, and it is also a serious budget-saver to be able to use indoor-produced greens in winter.
The late Dr. Roy Walford, MD was a member of the original crew of Biosphere, in Arizona, and he mused that he wished he had known that the sweet potatoes’ leaves were edible back then, as they are highly nutritious and grow quickly. The crew of Biosphere needed every ounce of food and nutrition as they had underestimated the amount when they were sealed into their capsule. Later, Roy learned that the African peoples knew these lessons long ago. so here’s Roy’s version of their recipe.
First, let two nice, fat sweet potatoes sit unmolested on a shelf or table until they begin to sprout, and have sent up little shoots an inch or more in length. That takes two to three weeks.
Then, a month before dinner time, place the potatoes in a pot outside your back door, just barely cover them with soil, and water them ever few days. In a month you’ll have abundant leaves.
OR, if you’re an inside-person, place your sprouting sweet potatoes in a deep dish on your kitchen counter, and pin the stems, as they trail, onto the area around your sink or kitchen window. Or, keep them atop your bookcase and let them trail. Keep the roots about one fourth submerged with water. In a month you’ll have abundant leaves. See the photo above. Place the thinner pointed end downward into the water. Learn more at: http://plantanswers.tamu.edu/vegetables/sweetpotato.html
Now to prepare Sauce a l’Afrique.
An hour or so before dinner, snip off the desired number of leaves from the living plant, and proceed as follows:
SAUCE A L’ AFRIQUE:
6 cloves garlic or more, minced
4 oz ground turkey, lean ground beef or 1 package tempeh*, crumbled, marinated (optional)
1 med onion, chopped fine
10 roma tomatoes or 2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 can vegetable broth
4 oz tomato paste
a little cayenne, a little black pepper
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp oregano
2 summer squash, diced
sweet potato leaves, lots
ADDITION: (freshly cooked millet OR sweet potatoes and peas)
Start the millet or sweet potatoes to cook and then make the sauce. Recipe follows.
Place a small amount of olive oil in a non-stick pan over a medium flame. Add half the garlic and the tempeh* or ground meat. Stir fry until lightly browned. Remove, and set aside.
Add a little more oil, the remaining garlic, and onions. Cover and simmer until the onions are tender. You may need to add a little water or broth if the ingredients get too dry. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, vegetable broth, and some hot chili pepper or cayenne. Simmer until the broth is thick.
Add the squash, the tempeh, and the sweet potato leaves. Simmer a final four to five minutes until the squash is tender.
Sauce a l’Afrique is great served over millet, or pasta. The original version Roy had in Africa was served over sweet potatoes cooked with peas.
Per serving; 1.5 cups of sauce: 105 calories, 26% calories from protein, 55% calories from carbohydrates, 10% from fat. RDA values: Vitamin A, 30%; Vitamin B6, 19%; Vitamin B12, 12%; Vitamin C, 30%; Vitamin E, 20%; Calcium 5%; Iron 12%.
* If you have a systemic yeast infection, it would be better to use tofu as a vegetarian option, as tempeh is fermented, and all fermented foods should be avoided if suffering from yeast overload.
Sweet Potato Tacos
6 large sweet potatoes, peeled, cooked and cut 1/4-in. thick
8 6-in. organic blue corn tortillas (blue corn is more nutritious)
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup grated white cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup agave nectar (optional), approximate measure
whole sea salt and cayenne pepper
organic olive oil
Prepare a charcoal grill and allow it to burn down to embers.
For each serving, lay 3 slices of sweet potato over half of the tortilla, sprinkle with cheeses, cilantro and honey. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fold over tortilla and brush with olive oil. Grill for 3 minutes on each side or until crispy and cheese has melted.
You could also make these in your oven. Cut the sweet potatoes more finely and layer them on; that way they will cook faster. See oven guidelines in several recipes above and below this one.
Makes 8 servings
The United Nations understands how nutritious sweet potatoes are and they are hoping to use them as food for millions of starving children.
F.A.O. .org – Delight Serves 1
3 sweet potato leaves
1 small piece pumpkin (approximately 1/2 cup) or equivalent amount of sweet potato
1 tablespoon fresh or canned fish
1 tablespoon coconut cream or coconut milk
¼ cup water
1. Put all the ingredients in a pot.
2. Cook slowly for about 10 minutes until pumpkin or sweet potato is soft.
3. Mash well.
4. Serve warm.
Preparing Sweet Potato Leaves
The young leaves and tips are prepared by boiling for a short time in a small amount of water. Serving or cooking sweet potato leaves with a lime, and fat, such as coconut cream, helps the body use the Vitamin A that is in the leaves. They may also be fried in a covered pot in a lime-flavored cooking oil. Onion and garlic may be added for flavour.
Sweet and Lovely Apple Coleslaw
3 cups thinly sliced white cabbage
2 medium-size sweet potatoes, steamed in bite-size chunks, then cooled
1 red bell pepper, thinly slice
2 red apples; peeled, cored, and diced and painted with lemon juice
1/2 cup organic nut oil
2 Tbsp. raspberry vinegar, or apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. agave nectar or organic maple syrup
1/2 tsp. whole sea salt
organic black pepper to taste
Steam the sweet potatoes the night before or earlier in the day. Cool in fridge.
Combine all vegetables (except the sweet potatoes) in a large bowl. Add apples. In a blender, emulsify the oil, vinegar, sweetener and whole sea salt adjusting flavors to suit your taste.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss with black pepper to taste. Add the cooled sweet potato and toss very gently OR place the sweet potao chunks on a plate and cover them with the rest of the vegetables. Serve.
Makes 8-10 servings
Sweet Potato and Pecan Salad with Lime Recipe
2 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed but unpeeled
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
1/2 cup pecan halves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Small handful chopped fresh cilantro
Pinch of cinnamon (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C).
Here’s a new technique. Cover the sweet potatoes with water in a large pot, bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Drain, then slice sweet potatoes into 1/2 inch rounds (you might want to halve them).
Coat a large baking dish with 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil. Arrange the sweet potato rounds, red onion slices, and red pepper slices in the dish, and bake for 15 minutes or until all vegetables are tender.
While the vegetables are baking, sauté pecans and cinnamon in 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil over low heat for about 2 minutes.
Remove the vegetables from oven. Drizzle fresh lime juice over them. Season them with sea salt, to taste. Lightly toss the veggies in with crispy pecan mixture.
Let the entire dish cool down for about 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh cilantro just before serving.
Based on: www.vegetarianbaby.com/recipes/sweetpotatosmoothiebase.shtml
Sweet Potato Smoothie Base
1-1 1/2 cups water
1 medium sweet potato, sliced (with skins!)
2 carrots, cleaned and sliced without peeling
1 small can mandarin oranges, or the juice of 3 mandarin oranges or the juice of 3 honey tangerines AND / OR the equivalent amount of mango (only if making this for immediate use)
In a medium pot, combine water with the sliced sweet potato and carrots. The water only needs to be about one inch deep. Boil the veggies gently until tender. Let them cool.
Combine carrot/sweet potato/water mix in a blender along with mandarin oranges (or juice). Puree. Pour mixture into ice cube trays, cover, and save for later use in smoothies.
If you are making smoothies immediately, you can use fresh mango. Do not freeze fresh mango; to freeze, it needs further preparation.
When making your smoothie, just toss in a few cubes of the base along with your favorite frozen fruits, juices, nectars, milks, etc. and blend away.
Diabetic Dessert Recipe #1: Sweet Potato Buttermilk Bars
Em says: I do NOT like using vegetable shortening or sugar in a diabetic recipe, but until I have some time, then use this one. If you use it to serve at least 12, it should be OK. I would also try to adjust at least some (and preferably all) the flour away from a gluten grain, as this has baking powder and should work with alternative flours – quinoa, coconut and soy or spelt mixed would be a good start.
Non-fat, non-stick vegetable cooking spray
1/2 c vegetable shortening
1/2 c molasses
1/4 c sugar (molasses minimizes the need for more sugar)
1 c grated, raw sweet potato
1 tsp grated orange rind
1 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ginger
1 c whole wheat flour
Preheat oven to 375F for 10 minutes
Spray a 9×13-inch pan or casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.
Mix shortening and sugar until creamed.
Add egg and beat thoroughly.
Add molasses, sweet potato, and orange rind.
In a bowl, place flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and ginger. Sift.
Stir in whole wheat flour.
Add dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk to the sweet potato mixture, starting and ending with flour mixture.
Spread in prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. While warm, cut into bars.
This has been a long session, and I have to go. I may get back to this later. If you have recipes you’d like to share, please do.
Meanwhile, you can read more articles in the 2 pages (so far!) of archives on the tab on the Upper Navigation bar.
Best to all — Em
(c)2008 Em http://diabetesdietdialogue.wordpress.com
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