North Carolina Sweet Potatoes…Naturally Healthy

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According to the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission here are some Fun Facts about North Carolina Sweet Potatoes.

In 2019, North Carolina Sweet Potato production was valued at $ 647,736,000 and provided over 70% of the nation’s sweet potatoes. North Carolina remains the leading sweet potato producer in the United States. North Carolina’s Official Vegetable is the sweet potato.

Sweet Potatoes were being grown when Columbus arrived in 1492, and were being cultivated in the southern states by the 16th century.

Is a sweet potato a yam? Actually, they are different, but most likely what we often call a yam, is actually a sweet potato. The sweet, orange-colored root vegetable that we southerners love so dearly is actually is a sweet potato. Often sweet potatoes are marketed as yams, but truly they are just one variety of many sweet potatoes. A true yam is starchier and more potato-like, usually not very sweet, and often whitish on the inside.

Sweet potatoes are high in beta carotene, vitamins E and C, iron, potassium, and vitamin B-6.

Sweet potatoes are a great way to eat healthy as they are fat and cholesterol-free. They are considered a “superfood” and pair perfectly with poultry, pork, beef, lamb, or seafood.

Sweet Potato Hash Browns

Ingredients

  • ½ pound sweet potato, peeled and grated, using the large holes of box grater, (you could spiralize them and cut up as well)
  • 4 Tbsp. butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions

  1. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a cast iron or other thick bottom pan, on medium-high heat, the butter should bubble, but not burn.
  2. Working in batches, (use 2 tablespoons butter per batch), scoop large spoonful’s of grated sweet potatoes into the pan forming small mounds. Gently press the mounds out a bit. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook until they are browned on one side, about 4 to 5 minutes, then carefully turn them over with a metal spatula to brown on the other side.
  4. When done, place on a cookie sheet in a warmed over to keep warm until ready to eat.

 

Sweet Potato Grain Bowl with Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger, or minced fresh
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter
  • ¼ cup juice of lime
  • 1 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. honey, local of course
  • 1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds, if you toast these yourself, watch carefully

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. On a large baking sheet, toss sweet potatoes and onion with 1 Tbsp. of oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Season chicken with garlic powder, ginger, salt, and pepper. Cook until golden and no longer pink, about 8 minutes on each side. Let rest about 10 minutes, then slice.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together garlic, peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce, and honey. Whisk in Sesame oil and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil until smooth.
  4. Divide rice among four bowls and top each with sweet potato mixture, chicken, avocado, and baby spinach. Sprinkle with cilantro and sesame seeds and drizzle with dressing before serving.

Serves 4 healthy and hearty meals.

Veggie Chili with Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 2 -3 tablespoons chopped jalapeno, to taste
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • ¾ tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth, or chicken broth if not making a vegetarian version
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups frozen or fresh corn, thawed if frozen
  • Sour Cream, for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish
  • 1-2 cups shredded cheddar or Mexican Cheese for garnish

Directions

  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, jalapeno peppers, and sweet potato. Sauté until the onion is translucent, 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook until fragrant, 1 additional minute.
  2. Add the chili powder, cumin, cayenne, salt, and pepper, and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and broth. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 30-35 minutes.
  3. Stir in the chickpeas, beans, and corn, and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  4. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream, 1 to 2 tablespoons shredded cheese. Sprinkle with fresh chopped cilantro.

Serves 8.

***I would turn this into a Slow Cooker recipe, just to make it easy.

High Protein and Healthy Chicken, Quinoa, and Sweet Potato Casserole

Ingredients

  • 4 cups cubed, peeled sweet potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken tenders, or breasts, trimmed
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 2 teaspoons fresh minced garlic
  • 1 ½ cups quinoa
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine, optional
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ½ cup crumbled feta
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Place sweet potatoes and water in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pierce a few holes in the top with a fork. Microwave on High for 4 minutes.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until browned, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board and let stand 5 minutes. Cut into 1-inch strips.
  4. Add shallots and garlic to the pan and cook over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add broth, quinoa, salt, (wine, if using), cumin, cinnamon, and red pepper. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the sweet potatoes and chicken.
  5. Spoon the mixture into a 7×11 inch broiler-proof baking dish. Cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven, increase oven temperature to broil. Uncover the casserole and sprinkle with cheese. Broil 8 inches from the heat until golden brown, about 5 minutes, watch carefully. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Allow to cool and set up for 5 minutes.

Serves 8. Enjoy!!