North Carolina Bounty – Sweet Potatoes

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Did you know that for almost 50 years North Carolina has ranked as the No. 1 sweet potato producing state in the U.S? Our hot, moist climate and rich, fertile soil are ideal for cultivating sweet potatoes, averaging at nearly 50% of the entire United States’ supply. According to the USDA, North Carolina harvested nearly 95,000 acres of sweet potatoes in 2016, nearly 30,000 more than California, Louisiana, and Mississippi combined – also top producing states.

It’s no surprise that sweet potatoes are at the top of nearly everyone’s healthiest foods list. One baked, medium-sized sweet potato contains 438% of your daily value of vitamin A (a white potato contains 1%), 37% of your vitamin C, and some calcium, potassium, and iron too. They also deliver 4 grams of dietary fiber 16% of the daily value—and absolutely zero grams of fat. All this at just 105 calories!

So of course, sweet potatoes are abundant in our area at local farmers markets and roadside stands. Take advantage of this healthy vegetable and give these recipes a try!

Fruit Chaat

(From the N.C. Cooperative Extension Program, Med instead of Meds)

Ingredients
2 medium bananas, peeled and sliced
1 medium apple, chopped into small pieces
1 mango, peeled and cut into small cubes
1 cup halved red grapes
1 medium sweet potato
1 – 2 limes
½ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
½ teaspoon red chili powder (adjust to taste)
¼ teaspoon black pepper (adjust to taste)

Instructions

  1. Poke holes in the sweet potato and microwave for 5-8 minutes, rotating halfway through. Allow to cool, peel and cut into small cubes.
  2. Combine banana, apple, mango, grapes, and sweet potato in a big mixing bowl. Squeeze juice from limes into mixture and toss. Mix in the salt, chili powder, and black pepper.

 Serves 6, each 15 tot serving contains; Calories 104, Fat 0 g, Protein 1 g, Carbohydrates 20 g, Fiber 3 g, Sodium 211 mg.

 Sweet Potato Carbonara

(Pull out the spiralizer and create sweet potato pasta!)

Ingredients
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 strips center-cut bacon, chopped
1 8-ounce package sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 5-ounce package baby spinach

Instructions

  1. Put a large pot of water on to boil.
  2. Using a spiral vegetable slicer or julienne vegetable peeler, cut sweet potatoes lengthwise into long, thin strands. You should have about 12 cups of “noodles.”
  3. Cook the sweet potatoes in the boiling water, gently stirring once or twice, until just starting to soften but not completely tender, 1½ to 3 minutes. Reserve ¼ cup of the cooking water, then drain. Return the noodles to the pot, off the heat. Combine eggs, Parmesan, salt, pepper and the reserved water in a bowl; pour over the noodles and gently toss with tongs until evenly coated.
  4. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are starting to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add spinach and cook, stirring, until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the vegetables to the noodles and toss to combine. Top with a generous grinding of pepper.

 Serves 5, each serving contains; Calories 312, Fat 12 g, Protein 15 g, Carbohydrates 38 g, Fiber 6 g, Cholesterol 130 mg, Sodium 587 mg.

Sweet Potato and Pumpkin Black Bean Chili

Ingredients
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups peeled and diced sweet potato (about 1 large sweet potato)
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 (12-oz) pumpkin beer
1 (15-oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5-oz) can petite diced tomatoes
1 cup vegetable broth
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch over medium heat. Add onion; cook 2-3 minutes, until tender. Add next 7 ingredients (garlic through cinnamon), stir, and cook 3-4 minutes.
  2. Pour in beer, stir, and scrape any bits off the bottom of the pan. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium heat and simmer for 30-35 minutes, stirring often to prevent burning, until sweet potato is tender.

Serves 6, each serving contains; Calories 174, Fat 2 g, Protein 8 g, Carbohydrates 30 g, Fiber 7 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium 509 mg.

Oven Baked Sweet Potato Tots with Jalapeno Ranch Dipping Sauce

(Adapted from a Cooking Light Recipe)

Sweet Potato Tots:

Ingredients
3 medium sweet potatoes
1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/4 cup flour (or for a vegan version, almond meal)
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 egg whites
Cooking spray

Jalapeño Garlic Ranch Sauce: 

Ingredients
1/2 cup 2% Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded
2 tablespoons fresh chives
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Pierce sweet potatoes with a fork several times. Bake sweet potatoes on a baking sheet lined with foil until soft, about 45-55 minutes. Let cool.
  3. Remove skin from sweet potatoes and combine flesh with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Let the mixture sit in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.
  4. In a bowl, combine almond meal, panko, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. In a separate bowl, crack egg whites.
  5. Roll about 1 tablespoon sweet potato mixture into a tot shape, douse in egg white mixture, and roll in breading mixture. Place on an oiled baking.
  6. Once all tots are on baking sheet, spray tots with cooking spray in order to achieve even browning.
  7. Bake at 400°F for 45 minutes or until they’ve reached desired crispiness, flipping tots halfway through.
  8. For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a food processor. Serve immediately.

Serves 4, each 15 tot serving contains; Calories 235, Fat 6.8 g, Protein 10 g, Carbohydrates 35 g, Fiber 4 g, Cholesterol 15 mg, Sodium 614 mg.