Sweet Potatoes Galore

Sometimes to keep things interesting in the kitchen and (always) to make cooking as efficient as possible, I use a theme ingredient for the week’s meals. This doesn’t mean that we have the theme ingredient every night, but even using the same ingredient 2 or 3 nights out of 7 helps, particularly when that ingredient is in season and on sale.

Last week was a sweet potato week. My husband and I had noticed that we hadn’t been fueling as well for our workouts.  When this happens it’s usually because I haven’t prioritized creative time in the kitchen, and we’ve fallen into a rut of rotating the same meals.  My strategy for countering this funk was to adapt existing recipes.

I’ve provided below a list of new sweet potato recipes and links to previously posted sweet potato recipes, so that when you are ready to try a few sweet potato recipes, you have plenty to choose from!

Sweet Potato Tempeh Burgers

This recipe was adapted from Whole Foods’ Health Starts Here materials and provides a good base for a variety of flavors. Makes 8 burgers.

3 small sweet potatoes, baked and peeled

1.5 c black beans, rinsed and drained

1 package of tempeh, crumbled into small pieces

3 T ketchup (no sugar added)

1.5 T minced garlic

1 t Braggs Liquid Aminos or tamari

1/4 c nutritional yeast

1 c oats

Seasonings

In a medium bowl, mash the sweet potatoes and black beans. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.  If possible, refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes.  Remove from fridge and preheat the oven to 400°F.  Form 8 patties.  Sprinkle or baste the patties with your seasoning of choice- cajun, chipotle, lemon pepper, BBQ sauce, seasoned salt, etc.  If crispy burgers are desired, lightly spray with oil.  Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 10 minutes.  Flip the burgers, season again, and bake for another 10 minutes.

 

Lentil, Chard, Sweet Potato Curry

This recipe was adapted from Forks Over Knives and But I Could Never Go Vegan! by Kristy Turner. The key modifications were to minimize the spices and remove the vegan yogurt since the red (instead of yellow) lentils provided a creamy texture.  Serves 6.

1 onion, dicedsweet potato lentil curry

1.5 T minced garlic

1 T minced ginger

2 t curry powder

1/4 t garam masala (optional)

1/2 t turmeric

4 c diced sweet potatoes

3 to 4 c vegetable broth

1.5 c dried red lentils

juice from 1 lime (~1 T or so)

1 bunch Swiss or rainbow chard, stems removed, and cut into thin strips

salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Saute the onion in a large pot over medium heat until translucent, adding a little water or broth to prevent sticking. Add the minced garlic, ginger, curry, garam masala, and turmeric and stir to coat.  Add more water or broth to prevent sticking.  Add the sweet potatoes, 3 cups of broth, and lentils.  Cover.  Once it boils, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until the sweet potatoes are tender.  Add the chard and more broth if needed.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Add lime juice and adjust seasonings before serving.

 

Chickpea Sweet Potato Spinach Curry

This recipe was adapted from a Forks Over Knives recipe created by Veronica Grace. Serves 6 without rice and 8 with rice.

1 large onion, dicedsweet potato chickpea curry

1.5 T minced garlic

2 t minced ginger

2 15 ounce cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes

1 t ground cumin

1 t turmeric

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (~3 c)

1 to 2 c vegetable broth

3 to 4 c chickpeas, rinsed and drained

2 large handfuls of fresh spinach

1 to 1.5 c coconut milk or 1/2 c coconut cream

Cooked brown rice, optional

Saute the diced onion in a large pot over medium until translucent, then add the garlic and ginger. Stir until fragrant, then add the tomatoes, cumin, and turmeric.  Stir and add the sweet potatoes and broth.  Cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Add the chickpeas and cook for 5-10 more minutes until the sweet potatoes are tender.  Add the spinach and turn off the heat.  Once the spinach has wilted (~2 min), add the coconut milk and serve with or without brown rice.

 

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

This recipe was adapted from Brittany at eatingbirdfood.com.  Serves 6.

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks, tossed with

1 t sea salt and

1 T melted coconut oil and roasted at 400°F until tender (~30 min)

4 oz baby spinach, chopped

1/2 red onion, finely diced

1 large or 2 small green apples, cut into matchstick sized pieces

2 T apple cider vinegar

2 T lemon juice

1/2 t sea salt

freshly ground pepper to taste

2 avocadoes, diced

hemp seeds, optional

While the sweet potatoes are roasting, chop the spinach, red onion, and green apple and add to a large bowl.  Sprinkle the apple cider vinegar and lemon juice over the mixture and season with salt and pepper.  Add the roasted sweet potato and gently stir to mix the ingredients.  Just before serving, add the diced avocado and hemp seeds if using.  Serve cold, at room temperature, or immediately after adding the roasted sweet potatoes.

 

Sweet Potato Soup

Serves 4

1 onion, diced

1 t ground cumin

1/2 t turmeric

1/2 t ground mustard

1 c dry red lentils

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks

2 to 3 cups vegetable broth or water

1 T Braggs Liquid Aminos or tamari

Saute the onion in a large pot over medium heat until translucent.  Add the cumin, turmeric, and mustard and stir to combine.  Once fragrant, add the lentils, sweet potatoes, and broth.  Cover and cook for ~15 minutes until the sweet potatoes are tender.  Add the aminos and stir.  Carefully transfer the hot mixture in batches to the blender to puree.  Use a dish towel to cover the blender (instead of the lid) to allow steam to escape.  Adjust seasonings and serve.

loaded sweet potato 1

Other sweet potato recipes you may be interested in:

Mexican Sweet Potatoes

Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Potato

Butternut Black Bean Chipotle Chili (substitute sweet potatoes for the squash)

Quinoa Ginger Salad

Thai Butternut Squash Soup (substitute sweet potatoes for the squash)

Individual Sweet Potato Pieshoppin john 2

Oven Roasted Sweet Potato Fries

Hoppin John Bowl

Baked Sweet Potatoes

Easy Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Apple Casserole

Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas

Broccoli Sweet Potato Curry Stoup

Check out Schweeeeeet Potatoes! for info on why you should increase your complex carbohydrate intake and eat more sweet potatoes.

Vegan@home

It’s important to me and my husband that our kids learn to make healthy choices, knowing that we won’t be around forever to help with that.  Therefore the kids are only vegan at home and make whatever choices they want (within reason) outside of our home.  This has worked really well for us, and the overwhelming majority of the time they choose to be vegan or vegetarian outside of home.  However it has really bothered our younger daughter when a couple of times in the last few months our older daughter has chosen to eat chicken at fast food restaurants.  We don’t mind at all, hoping it will curtail a significant backlash against being raised vegan as soon as the kids leave home.  But I was comforted in seeing that despite the bickering (okay, screaming and yelling) they do genuinely care for each other’s health.

Strategies other than vegan@home for healthier eating or moving more toward vegetarianism are discussed in Practice Vegetarian.

We were a bit late celebrating the new year with black-eyed peas, which are thought in the Southern United States to bring prosperity.  But this dish was such a hit that we will be eating it again in a few weeks- even if just for a big lottery drawing!!

Hoppin’ John Bowl

Black-eyed peas

Brown ricehoppin john edited

Kale, stems removed, cut into ribbons, and steamed

Sweet potato, peeled, diced and cooked

Frozen red, green, and yellow pepper strips, diced and steamed

Cayenne pepper hot sauce (like Frank’s Red Hot)

Optional: canned fire-roasted tomatoes or a tomato green chili mix (like Ro*Tel)

This bowl comes together really quickly if you use cook the black-eyed peas and rice in advance.  One option to cook the sweet potato faster is to peel it, then microwave it for 2 to 5 minutes depending on the size.  Once the sweet potato is cool enough to handle, dice it.  Remove the stems from the kale and chiffonade it (roll it together and slice into ribbons).  Dice the peppers.  Combine the kale, sweet potato, and peppers in the steamer and steam for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the number of servings.  Reheat the black-eyed peas and brown rice.  Mix everything together and serve with hot sauce to taste!

No Tricks, Just Treats

This post has been mostly complete for months, so in the spirit of just doing it, I’m releasing it late rather than waiting another year. . .

My philosophy around sweets is that if I’m going to eat them (which, of course, it would be better if I didn’t), I’ll only eat ones I make.  That way I know the ingredients, and in particular I can buy organic sugars to avoid GMO beet sugar which is in all non-organic sugary foods and food-like products.  Avoiding food dyes is another great reason to make your own goodies.

IMG_2236Jack-o-lantern Sweet Potato Pies

Follow this recipe, but instead use a glass to cut the dough into circles.  For half of the dough circles, use a knife to “carve” a jack-0-lantern into the dough.  After assembling the pies, crimp the edges with a fork or moisten your finger tips with a few drops of water to seal the edge of the pie.

Peanut Butter Cups

Loaded Apples

Slice crispy green apples into thick slices or wedges and arrange (dump) on a plate.  Melt a tablespoon or so of peanut butter and drizzle over the apples.  Melt 1/4 c non-dairy chocolate chips and drizzle over the apples.  Sprinkle with shredded coconut, granola, raisins, crushed pretzels or cereal- whatever you’ve got that sounds good.

Enjoy your goodies and happy Halloween!!!

 

A Week of Good Meals

No recent blog posts means no creative time in the kitchen lately, which I miss.  But I pulled together a good week of menus last week and wanted to share them in hopes of making it easier for you to do the same.

I prepped a few of the meals in advance- the sloppy lennys, quinoa ginger salad, and the three bean salad.  The rainbow orzo, Mexican sweet potatoes, and pasta with pink sauce didn’t require much prep so I made them during the week.  I’ve also started planning one take out night a week, with the goal of having the Hubbie take over dinner prep for that night.

Sloppy Lennys

I used red lentils this time (because they cook so much faster) and was pleased with the outcome.  They definitely have a tendency to get mushy by the end, but they are supposed to be sloppy after all.  If you prefer the lentils not to fall apart, use green or brown lentils.

Quinoa Ginger Salad

I should have halved this recipe but was gung ho about having plenty of leftovers for lunches since we hadn’t the week before.  But it was still too much as this recipe as written serves 12!!

Three Bean Salad

There were multiple versions of this in our fridge this week- some without celery, some without cilantro.  The secret to keeping it fresh was to add avocado each day to keep it fresh.

Rainbow OrzoIMG_2895

Be creative with the Rainbow Orzo- the point is that you get a variety of colors with the veggies you include.  If you don’t want to spend as much time dicing veggies, then use a larger pasta.

16 oz dried orzo pasta, cooked and drained

Assortment of diced veggies (sun dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, kale, carrots, onions, beans, broccoli, artichoke hearts, peas, cauliflower, etc.)

While the water is heating, cut or dice the vegetables.  For vegetables that require a minute or two of cooking, add them to the pasta for the last minute of boiling or saute them while the pasta cooks.  Add the veggies to a large bowl and cover with the drained pasta.  Allow the warm pasta to warm the veggies, then stir and serve.

Mexican Sweet Potatoes

This turned out to be a great fuel meal for a triathlon my husband and daughter did the next morning- very filling and reminiscent of Dr. McDougall’s Starch Solution.

1 serving

1 medium sweet potato, baked or microwaved

1/3 c cooked kidney beans

3/4 c cooked brown rice

1/2 avocado, diced

1/4 c crushed pineapple (optional)

1/4 c prepared salsa (mango salsa or tomatillo salsa are particularly good here, but use whatever you’ve got)

Once the potato is cool enough to handle, transfer it to a salad bowl and split it open.  Add the toppings in the order given.  Enjoy!

Pasta with Pink Sauce

This is literally a 10 minute meal, so it’s one I keep in reserve for a week night that requires no prep.  You can also use cooked white beans (1.5 c or 1 can) instead of the tofu.  I also do a variation called Shrek sauce where I add greens to the blender as well.

16 oz dried pasta, cooked according to directions on package

1 jar of marinara sauce or 2 cans of fire roasted crushed tomatoes

1 box of shelf stable organic firm tofu (like Mori Nu)

Optional: 2-4 cloves of garlic

While the pasta is cooking, add the tomatoes/tomato sauce, tofu, and garlice to your high speed blender.  Puree until warm and pour over drained pasta.  Enjoy!!

Tomatillo Gazpacho

Our take out meal this week was prepared tomatillo gazpacho from Trader Joes.  It was a bit spicy for the kids, so I pulled out some bread and they were fine.  Since it’s not very filling, they could add white beans to the gazpacho or eat leftover Three Bean Salad or Quinoa Ginger Salad with the meal.  If you don’t have access to prepared gazpacho, check out Shortcut Gazpacho.

Stoup’s On

As temperatures decrease and our days shorten, I am drawn to the warmth and comfort of soup.  Although I could eat soup daily, my family disagrees, so Tempslately we’ve been having a lot of stoup, or stew-like soup.  As with all of my recipes, please use them as a template and adjust based on what you have on hand and what you like.

Broccoli Sweet Potato Curry Stoup

Serves 4

3 – 4 c broccoli florets

2 – 3 c white beans

2 medium sweet potatoes

1 can coconut milk

1 T curry powder

water

Optional: kafir lime leaf

Microwave the sweet potatoes for 3 minutes to soften.  In a pot over medium heat, whisk the curry powder into the coconut milk.  Chop the large broccoli florets into bite-sized pieces and dice the sweet potatoes.  Add remainder of ingredients and water to reach desired consistency.  Cover, and cook over medium heat until the veggies have softened.  Add more curry powder if needed, and remove kafir lime leaf before serving.

 

Fickin and Rice Stoup

Serves 4

3 Delight non-GMO soy patties or 1/2 batch chicken-like seitan

5 c cooked rice

1 carton of No Chicken Broth

1 onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

Parsley, thyme, rosemary, tarragon, pepper to taste

Sautee the veggies or if short on time, just boil them in the broth.  Add the fickin (fake chicken) and rice and heat through.  Adjust seasonings, add more broth if desired, and serve.

 

Beef Stoup

Serves 6

1 batch of beef-like seitan using 2T Better Than Bouillon No Beef Base for the broth

4 – 5 c cooked brown rice

2 onions, diced

3 carrots, sliced into coins

1 green pepper, diced

4 cloves of garlic, chopped or minced

Broth or water with additional No Beef Base

Thyme, rosemary, oregano, pepper

Make the seitan and while it’s steaming, start the rice and chop the veggies.  You can also make the seitan and rice in advance so the meal comes together faster for a weeknight meal.  In a large pot, sauté the veggies using a little water as needed to prevent sticking.  Once the veggies have softened, add the broth and herbs.  Cover and cook over medium heat until the veggies have reached the desired texture.  Slice the beef-like seitan then cut into strips or bite-sized pieces.  Add the rice and seitan and heat through.  Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more broth if needed for soup.

 

Thai Butternut Soup

Serves 4

1 medium butternut squash or 4 c diced squash

2 c vegetable broth

1 onion, diced

2 T Thai red curry paste

1 can coconut milk

1 T or 3 cloves minced garlic

Cook the squash in the broth (I used No Chicken broth) until soft and add to blender.  Sautee the onion in a little water until translucent and add to blender.  Add rest of ingredients to blender and puree.  Serve immediately, transfer to crockpot to keep warm for a few hours, or refrigerate.  Add more broth or coconut milk as needed to reach desired consistency, particularly upon reheating.

IF you transport this soup in the car for say a work potluck lunch, please adequately secure the crockpot.  Although the soup smells and tastes great, it’s not something you want to smell for days on end. . .ThaiButternutSoup

 

Mac n Cheez Please!!

Who does not love a delicious bowl of mac and cheese?!?  Over the vegan years, we have tried many versions of mac and mac&cheezcheese and this one has recently been named the favorite.  Who knows how long it will stay in the top spot, but I for one am thrilled that it fits the bill for comfort food AND includes the amazing sweet potato.  You’ll be impressed with the beautiful color of this mac and cheez!!

Read further below for the meals we enjoyed last week.  The meals came together really quickly after prepping on Sunday.

Orange Cheez

1/2 c cashew pieces

1 medium/large sweet potato, baked and peeled

2 T fresh lemon juice

2 cloves garlic

1 t salt

1 T nutritional yeast

1 c water (then up to 1 more cup, depending on size of potato and desired consistency)

If you have a high powered blender, such as a VitaMix or BlendTec, combine all ingredients and puree until super smooth.  Additional water should be added as needed to reach the desired consistency.

If you do not have a high powered blender, soak the cashew pieces in water in the fridge overnight (or microwave in water for 30 seconds), then add everything to your blender or food processor and blend until very smooth.  Additional water should be added as needed to reach the desired consistency.

At this point, you can use the orange cheez or refrigerate it until you are ready to use it.

If making macaroni and cheese, for example, remove the orange cheez from the refrigerator when you start boiling 16 oz of macaroni.  When the macaroni is cooked, quickly drain it, leaving some water in the pot.  Add the orange cheez and stir well to combine.

Note: The best way to store the orange cheez is in the fridge before adding it to pasta.  Once the orange cheez is combined with the pasta and refrigerated, it doesn’t reheat as well.

Meals for the week:

Mac n Orange Cheez with broccoli (as a side or tossed in with the mac n cheez)

  • Bake enough sweet potatoes for mac n cheez and sweet potato pies
  • Make the orange cheez in advance

Fig Pecan Squash Casserole with wild rice and spinach

  • Cook the squash as directed here then
  • Assemble the casserole in advance
  • Bake the casserole while making the wild rice and spinach

Baked Bean Chili

  • If you cut the onion and peppers in advance and freeze, you can throw this recipe together in the crockpot in 5 minutes- perfect to work in while making lunches.

Rice Bowls

  • This is usually a leftover-like night for us, combining canned beans (or leftover chili) and whatever veggies are left in the fridge.  However rice bowls sounds much better than “leftovers”.

Sloppy Lennys

  • I always make a big batch of these and freeze half, so all I had to do here was defrost and reheat.  If you’re not in the same situation, making the dish or at least cook the lentils in advance (or use canned) helps get this on the table quickly.

And for dessert one night,

Sweet Potato Pies

  • Make the filling in advance

Schweeeeeet Potatoes!

It’s pollen season here, but until the local farmers market is in full swing, we can rely on root vegetables to get us to the best that spring has to offer.  Sweet potatoes abound here, so it’s not hard to find wonderful local varieties almost year round.

Sweet potatoes may get a bad rap for their carbohydrate content, but they are complex carbohydrates, which means they are broken down in a controlled manner during digestion.  The healthiest foods (fruits, vegetables, and whole grains) primarily consist of carbohydrates and are packed with significant amounts of vitamins, minerals, and accessible energy, not to mention the substantial health benefits associated with dietary SweetPotatoesfiber.

The processed, highly refined “simple” carbohydrates have been stripped of all the health benefits of complex carbohydrates and are responsible for the public’s negative perception of carbohydrates.  Highly refined carbohydrates are easily broken down during digestion to the simplest form of carbohydrate, which is absorbed into the body as glucose.  Refined carbohydrates should have a bad reputation, however, this hasn’t translated into action in the right direction.  A 1996 survey showed that the average adult American eats 4 times as many refined carbohydrates on a given day than dark green vegetables.Information Plus  Additionally, only 3 vegetables made up half of the total vegetables served: potatoes (mostly consumed as fries and chips); iceburg lettuce (the least nutrient dense of all the greens); and canned tomatoes (probably a reflection on pizza and pasta consumption).

The benefits of a whole food, plant-based diet are gained from eating the complex carbohydrates found in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.  Regular consumption of refined carbohydrates (even if the original substrate was a complex carbohydrate) could result in achieving a low-fat diet, but doing so is at the expense of your health, both in the short-term and long-term.  So choose to pay now‑ by building your willpower to chose the healthier option and by investing time in your health- to avoid paying much more later in life.

Start now by trying out one of the sweet potato recipes below and know that, in addition to the benefits of complex carbohydrates mentioned above, sweet potatoes have beta-carotene, selenium, and vitamins C and E.  Only ½ cup of cooked sweet potato counts as 1 serving of vegetables, and you need 4 or more servings of vegetables per day.Barnard 2008  Two cups of cooked veggies per day is very doable!!

 

Baked Sweet Potatoes

1 sweet potato per person, of uniform size for even cooking

Toppings, optional (see below)

Preheat oven to 400’.

Bake sweet potatoes on a baking sheet for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on size.  Line the baking sheet with Aluminum foil for easy clean up as the sweet potatoes will ooze liquid that will caramelize on the baking sheet.  When fully cooked, the inside of the sweet potato will be soft and the outside will have darkened.

Topping ideas:

Cinnamon, honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar

Pineapple, baked apples, raisins, or dried cranberries

Marshmallows (for the sweet potato-averse crowd)

Steamed Broccoli

Sautéed or steamed spinach or mushrooms

Sautéed or roasted onions

Black beans, salsa, or bothhttp://www.ncsweetpotatoes.com/

 

 

Oven Roasted Sweet Potato Fries

1 sweet potato per person

Spray EVOO

Salt

Seasonings, optional

 

Preheat oven to 450’.

Peel sweet potatoes if desired or if they are not organic.

Cut each sweet potato lengthwise into 8 wedges.

Arrange wedges on a lightly sprayed baking sheet, then lightly spray the wedges themselves.

Sprinkle with salt and any desired seasonings.

Bake potatoes for 15 minutes, then flip and bake another 10-15 minutes.

 

Individual Sweet Potato Pies

Dough for one pie crust to make 4 hand pies (I highly recommend Vegan Pie in the Sky by Moskowitz and Romero if you’re interested in making your own pie crust.  Otherwise it is not difficult to find pre-made pie crust dough that does not contain dairy or egg.)

Filling ingredients:

2 c mashed sweet potato (from 2 baked sweet potatoes)

1 ½ T organic cornstarch

¾ t ground cinnamon

¼ c sucanat or turbinado sugar

1-2 t grated ginger

Pinch of salt

 

Mix well or blend the filling ingredients in a medium sized bowl.

On a floured surface, roll the dough out into a rectangle that is twice as long as it is wide.   Cut the rectangle in half to form two squares.  Then cut each square in half to form four rectangles.

Place just less than ¼ c sweet potato filling on half of each rectangle.  Fold the pastry over to enclose the pie and moisten the edges to seal the crust.  Use fork tines to crimp the edges.  Then cut 3 small slits in the top of each pie to allow steam to escape while baking.  Transfer the pies to a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Sprinkling a few grains of salt on each pie adds a really nice touch.

Bake at 400 for 20-25 min or until the edges are lightly browned, rotating the baking sheet if necessary to allow for even cooking.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 min before transferring to a cooling rack.  These pies may be eaten warm or at room temperature if you have that much patience.

 

Sweet Potato Apple Casserole

3 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced about 1/8” thick

3 large granny smith (or other cooking) apples, peeled and sliced about 1/8” thick

½ c water

1 t ground cinnamon

1 t ground nutmeg

¼ c agave nectar

Optional: chopped pecans

 

Peel and slice the sweet potatoes and apples in similar thickness (approximately 1/8” thick).  In a casserole dish lightly sprayed with EVOO, arrange the slices in a visually appealing manner or just toss them in.

Add ½ c water, then sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg.  Top with agave nectar.  Sprinkle pecans if using.

Cover and bake at 350’ for about 30 minutes or until sweet potatoes and apples are tender.

Serves 6.

 

References

Information Plus.  Nutrition: a key to good health. Wylie, TX: Information Plus, 1999.

Barnard ND, Reilly JK. The Cancer Survivor’s Guide. 2008

Sweet Potato Picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/iita-media-library/5120663128/sizes/l/

http://www.ncsweetpotatoes.com/