The Incredibly Versatile Sweet Potato…

sweet potatosThe incredible sweet potato. This high powered super food deserves a article of its own for what it contributes to our health and well-being.

Sweet potatoes are root veggies (meaning they grow below ground) that are treated in similar ways to butternut squash, turnips and parsnips.

There are about 400 different varieties with the skin and flesh appearing from white to cream to yellow, to orange (these are the most common) to pink and deep purple. They are often mistakenly grouped together with yams but they are a different food family altogether.

Sweet potatoes are nutrient dense powerhouses that offer a whole range of essential micro-nutrients as well as a wealth of important fiber. Vitamin C is the most prominent nutrient in sweet potatoes – one large sweet potato contains more than double that of white potatoes. But, these golden, orange gems (that actually come in a purple color also) offer more than vitamin C. They are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates and rich with thiamine, potassium and manganese and provide a hefty dose of Vitamin A. Although they contain a good amount of starch, their starch is known to impact blood sugar levels less dramatically than simple carbohydrates would (white bread, white potatoes and pasta).

The intensity of the color of the sweet potato is directly correlated to its beta-carotene content. Some studies are even suggesting that sweet potatoes are actually a better source of bio available beta-carotene than green leafy veggies. All sweet potatoes offer amazing antioxidant properties but the antioxidant activity in purple ones can be as much as 3.2 times higher than that of a blueberry.

Sweet potatoes are multi-talented and play both starring and supporting roles in main courses, side dishes and desserts. Yes, you read that right. Sweet potatoes make the crossover from savory to sweet dishes with flying colors…literally!

Because of their sweet taste, creamy texture, ease in growing and their low cost and long shelf life, sweet potatoes are a stable in countries throughout the world supplying much needed nutrients.

If you presently view the sweet potato as something to be made into a casserole at Thanksgiving buried under a mound of marshmallows, it’s time to shift your perception and begin seeing the real value of this colorful tuber so you can begin using it as often as possible in your sweet as well as savory dishes.

Here’s a dessert and treat recipe that uses sweet potatoes as one of the main ingredients. Sure to become a family favorite!

SWEET POTATO BARS

BASE:

1 cup almonds

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1 cup dates, soaked at least 30 minutes and drained

1/2 cup desiccated coconut

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Place almonds and seeds into a food processor and process until broken down and crumbly. Add dates, coconut and cinnamon and process until well combined. Press mixture into an 8 by 8 inch pan or dish.

TOPPING:

2 cups sweet potato, steamed or raw and grated

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup coconut oil, warmed until liquid

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Spoon the filling onto the base and smooth out. Place in fridge to firm up and set. Cut into squares as desired.

This recipe is only one of 50 exciting new dessert and treat recipes that you will find in my newest addition: “Blended Bites” where I show you how to use a variety of fresh veggies in your sweet dishes to turn them into nutrient powerhouses.