Sweet potatoes are not only colorful and versatile, they are also one of nature's greatest sources of beta-carotene, a natural substance that the body can transform into vitamin A. Beta-carotene has been shown to decrease symptoms of exercise-induced asthma, and may help prevent certain cancers and heart disease.
"Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite foods to prepare in bulk and reheat throughout the week," says Tracey Grant, wellness education specialist with the Sharp Rees-Stealy Center for Health Management. "They add diversity to a salad and are a delicious source of nutrient-dense carbohydrate, outranking white potatoes in almost every vitamin and mineral."
"Roasting at a lower temperature for a longer period of time allows them to develop a caramelized flavor that, topped with some nut butter and a few shakes of cinnamon, is a delicious and nutritious way to satisfy a craving," she says.
Enjoy this superfood at breakfast, lunch or dinner — and even as dessert. Here are two simple recipes, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Glazed Sweet Potatoes
Warm up with this delicious recipe, full of beta-carotene.
Yields 4 servings
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened orange juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Spray a 1-quart casserole dish with vegetable cooking spray and place sweet potato slices on the bottom. Combine cornstarch and brown sugar in a small bowl. Add orange and lemon juices, stirring well. Pour over potatoes and cover; bake at 425° F for 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender and glaze is thickened.
Sweet Potato Pie
This heart-healthy piecrust is made with vegetable oil and skim milk.
Yields 16 servings
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup evaporated skim milk, canned
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups sweet potatoes (cooked and mashed)
Preheat oven to 350° F. Combine the flour and sugar in a bowl. Add milk and oil to the flour mixture.
Stir with fork until well-mixed and then form pastry into a smooth ball with your hands. Roll the ball between two 12-inch squares of waxed paper using short, brisk strokes until pastry reaches edge of paper. Peel off top paper and invert crust into pie plate.
For filling, combine sugars, salt, spices and eggs. Add milk and vanilla; stir. Add sweet potatoes and mix well. Pour mixture into pie shell. Bake for 60 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Cool and cut into 16 slices.