Monday, November 23, 2009
I really wanted to get this out there before Thanksgiving, to try and entice some of my American readers to eat more sweet potatoes, but alas.
So, I feel like I need a couple of disclaimers right of the bat, and we'll start with this: I used to HATE sweet potatoes. It's true. Part of it came from working at a produce warehouse. For those of you who haven't, let me in on a little secret: sorting cases and cases and cases of rotten sweet potatoes is the most disgusting job ever. Worse than blown out citrus, worse than the end of tomato season, hell, I can't even think of anything almost that bad to add to this list! So when I already have an aversion to sweet potatoes, and then I get to deal with these horrible... well, I really ought not describe it. Point is, I was near ruined. I had never really cared for the taste, and the texture was by far not my favorite, and I really never understood why we couldn't just have yukon golds, and then the job, and there you go. Over it. No sweet potatoes for me.
And then two things happened.
First was the fact that our local, wind powered, super all awesome fast food restaurant Burgerville made Sweet Potato French Fries, and I found out about it, and I tried them, and they were awesome. (though the Artic Circle in McMinnville also has them too, I've now found, and they're better) Not that I'm really advocated fast food on a health blog, am I? (for those not around from around here, neither of these restaurants are your typical fast food places, and let's be honest, sometimes you're out driving and you get hungry, and that Banh Mi place with the drive through is a little too far away, and a delicious fish sandwich sounds perfect, right?)
The second, of course, is that learned that they are amazingly good for you. And you know me, sold on the taste of something when that taste transforms into the taste of not getting sick.
i.) VITAMINS! Beta-Carotene, B, C, Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Phosphate, Magnesium! Sweet potatoes are more jam packed with vitamins than damn near anything, and we all love vitamins.
ii.) FIBER! Definitely helpful for when you haven't been eating as healthfully as you should be.
iii.) ULCERS! The combination of vitamins and fiber helps sooth the savage belly beast, as well as helps clean things out, as constipation has been shown to increase stomach pressure, as well as shown to increase your body's production of acid, which could aggravate ulcers further, as well as agitate acid reflux.
iv.) Diabetes! Early testing shows that sweet potatoes have been shown to balance blood sugar levels as well as lower insulin resistance. These results are based on preliminary animal testing, and so are not one hundred percent something I'd vouch for, but it's a good sign for people wanting something sweet, that's not a chemical or a potentially bad for them sugar. And I'm assuming when they say that sweet potatoes might be beneficial for diabetics, they aren't talking about having them covered in brown sugar and marshmallows.
WHAT TO DO WITH SWEET POTATOES:
So, here's the part where I am the wrong person to ask. I legitimately can not get behind some of the ways a lot of people like sweet potatoes: all mashed potatoey with sugar and marshmallows, any texture at all that is mashey is really not my cup of tea. It's strange, because I love mashed potatoes, and I love sweet things, but for some reason the idea of sweet mashed potatoes doesn't do it for me. And no, I also don't like sweet potato pie. I KNOW. I'm totally doing it wrong. Really sorry. There are a lot of people that REALLY love sweet potatoes that are totally in love with the way their mom or dad made it, and that's fine. Have at it. And honestly, the first person who passionately posts a recipe in the comments section will inspire me to edit this, and post it here. But don't get mad when I don't make it for myself.
What I do with them, honestly, is try to make them like I would a potato. Baked. Fried. In soups. And around savory ingredients. Aside from being in love with sweet potato french fries (which I'm sure takes away a bit of the health benefits, but I'm also sure that it is better for me than eating regular old french fries), my favorite thing to do with sweet potatoes is to add them to a massively spicy dish. Savory, and spicy, with that sweet in there to offset and make interesting, I've been making my vegetable soups with habaneros and pepper, cumin and mushrooms, and with sweet potatoes boiled to the same texture that I would a russet or a yukon gold. It's a potato soup with the added benefit of a sweetness to combat the blindingly hot pepper, and the savory earthy flavors of the rest.
Am I trying to get you to fall in love with sweet potatoes the way I like them? No, not at all. Make pies till your heart's content. Make sweet potatoes however you like. You should eat them, they're good for you. I'm just happy that I found a way that these healthy little guys can be something I can stomach. And don't judge me. I've heard some of you don't like mushrooms. THAT'S insane.