5 Things to Know About Sweet PotatoesFALLS CHURCH, VIRGINIA  (Food-News.net)  February is National Sweet Potato Month. That makes this the perfect time to be reminded of some of the many great things about the sweet potato, including that it is a nutritional powerhouse of a food option. That’s just one of the many reasons why sweet potatoes have stood the test of time and remain so popular today.

“In addition to being one of, if not the most, nutritious vegetables, the sweet potato can also work culinary magic without adding anything bad to your dish,” says Jordan Lichman, dean of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management at Stratford University (www.stratford.edu). “My favorite way to prepare sweet potatoes is to roast them whole in the skin (recipe below). Once they are cooked, you can simply eat them or use them as a base for other recipes.”

Here are five things to know about sweet potatoes:

1.  They are versatile. You can use sweet potatoes in many ways, including baking, boiling, in the crock pot, in soup, fried, in muffins, and more.

2.  They are super-nutritious. Considered one of the most nutritious foods on the planet, sweet potatoes are packed with nutrients, including vitamin C, antioxidants, vitamin A, beta-carotene, and more. They are also low in fat and have anti-inflammatory properties.

3.  When it comes to selecting sweet potatoes, choose ones that do not have visible bruises or cracks. It is best if they are firm and without soft spots. They can be stored for up to ten days in a cool, dark place that is well ventilated.

4.  The “Sweet Potato Capital of the World” is considered to be Vardaman, Mississippi, as it is one of the top producers of sweet potatoes. Interestingly, sweet potatoes were growing in America before Christopher Columbus ever arrived!

5.  They are actually not the same thing as yams. Although in the U.S. many people refer to yams and sweet potatoes interchangeably, the sweet potato is not from the Dioscoreaceae family, so they are botanically different. Yams are heavily cultivated throughout Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

“The sweet potato is also a favorite of my 11-month-old baby boy, Jamie,” adds Lichman. “He probably likes it for the sweetness, but I can rest assured that the low glycemic carbs in the sweet potato, along with its fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, and iron, will provide him with great, dense nutrition.”

Try these great sweet potato recipes:

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 Large Sweet Potatoes (about 1.5 to 2 pounds total)
Pinch of salt and pepper

Method:

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees

2.  Place whole, unpeeled sweet potatoes on a foil lined baking sheet in the preheated oven. Cook for a total of 1 to 1.5 hours or until the sweet potato is soft to the touch. Turn the sweet Potatoes after the first 30 minutes of cooking to prevent scorching on the underside of the potato. Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.

3.  To serve. cut the potato in half with a sharp knife and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Eat! The creamy roasted sweet potato should have an excellent rich texture that doesn’t require any butter or fat.

Whipped Sweet Potatoes with lime and chipotle

This Mexican inspired side dish is great with any grilled, braised or roasted meats or vegetables.

Serves  4

Ingredients:

2 roasted sweet potatoes
1-2 lime, juiced
1 Tablespoon, canned chipotle en adobo, chopped
1-2 teaspoon salt

Method:

1.       Roast sweet Potatoes as in steps 1 and 2 above.

2.       Quickly remove the skin from the sweet potato with fingertips. Allow to cool if it is too hot to handle.

3.       Place peeled potatoes into the bowl of a food processor, add the lime juice, chopped chipotle peppers and salt. Puree until very smooth about 1 minute.

4.       Serve hot.

Stratford University offers a variety of culinary degrees, as well as non-degree culinary workshops. There are a variety of culinary arts and hospitality management degrees to choose from. Degrees offered include advanced culinary arts, baking and pastry arts, hotel and restaurant management, and hospitality management. 

About Stratford University:

Stratford University operates campuses in Tysons Corner, Glen Allen, and Woodbridge. It offers 31 undergraduate and graduate degrees in the areas of Culinary Arts and Hospitality, Health Sciences, Business Administration, and Information Technology. The degree programs are offered both on campus, as well as online. For more information on Stratford University, please visit www.stratford.edu.



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