Now, unless you're a meat-potatoes-granola-bar type eater like I was, you've probably cooked with sweet potato before. But there are so many more delicious alternatives to the steamed side that appeared with Mom's meatloaf every Sunday. Here are my favorite tips and tricks to turning the common sweet potato into an edible secret weapon.
First, though, why should you even eat sweet taters - besides their amazing taste? According to Nutrition Authority, sweet potatoes consist of 77% water, 20.1% carbs, 1.6% protein and 3% fiber. Besides being decent forms of carbs and fiber, sweet potatoes are also rich in beta-carotene (which the body converts to Vitamin A), Potassium, Manganese, and Vitamin C, B6, B5 and E. For the biggest hit of antioxidants, enjoy brightly colored sweet taters, whether orange, deep purple or red.
When it comes to breakfast, sweet potatoes may not be your usual go-to ingredient. However, don't be afraid to include a hidden veggie into your morning meal! My personal favorites take advantage of baked sweet potatoes - either leftover from dinner or cooked that morning.
What to do with them? One option is throwing them into your morning smoothie! Sweet potato adds a thick, filling texture to any smoothie - and gives a "sweet potato pie" kind of flavor that this celiac never turns down. Since sweet potatoes are easily digestible sources of complex carbs, this is an especially smart smoothie add-in if you're fueling up for a hard workout.
If you're more of a crunchy than creamy eater, try adding sweet potato to your homemade granola instead! Though I haven't shared an exact recipe using this technique, you can simply replace most of all of the banana in my granola recipes with mashed sweet potato. It makes your granola super thick for an extra crunchy, chewy texture. I especially love adding sweet potato during the fall months for a cozy, holiday-esque flavor.
As you might imagine, sweet potatoes make an even more regular appearance in my lunches and dinners. One of my favorite ways to dress up a plain baked tater is to "smash" it on foil and throw it under the broiler until crispy. The combination of a creamy inside and crunchy, slightly scorched edges is to die for!
Sweet potato rounds also make a delicious, gluten free (and paleo) alternative to bread for sliders! One of my first - and my popular - blog recipes is my sweet potato salmon sliders. While vegans can replace the salmon with tofu, beans or pulled jackfruit, everyone can enjoy the pillowy, soft sweet potato rounds. Trust me. You won't even miss bread!
Ironically, sweet potatoes can also create a perfect patty for a burger (with a bun or as a salad). My sweet potato patties are vegan, paleo and boast another hidden veggie: zucchini. These freeze and defrost well, so I love having some on hand for quick lunches or dinners! Besides eating them plain, you can also use them as toppings for pizza. Sweet potato "pie" just got a whole new meaning!
Sometimes, though, your meal plan is crying out for some KISS action: keep it simple, stupid. When I need a hit of healthy carbs but don't have a lot of free time, I either bake these sweet potato wedges or - my most recently addiction - cook the tater in the microwave until soft, then throw it in the oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit until it caramelizes. Ooey, gooey heaven.
Need even more ideas on how to cook with sweet potato? Here are a few of my favorite sweet tater recipes from the blogosphere:
- Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowl: Jen's weekly pictures of this paleo and Whole 30 approved breakfast always get me drooling! Considering how addicted she is to it, it must taste even better than it looks...
- Purple Sweet Potato Gnocchi: Get a major hit of antioxidants - not to mention fluffy, delicious flavor - with Rebecca's unique twist on an old favorite!
- Vegan Sweet Potato Mac N' Cheese: Mac and cheese + sweet potato? What could be more comforting - or creamier?
- Sweet Potato Toast: Because it's impossible to ignore - or forget - this recent foodie craze, which involves cooking sweet potato in the toaster! Sam shares her own experience with the cooking method and a lots of scrumptious topping ideas.
- Superfood Sweet Potato Cookies: Who says you can't eat dessert and receive tons of vitamins too? If someone does, just point them to Kaila's delicious, vegan, gluten free and sweet potato-packed cookies...
The fact is, you never know how much you can like - or even love - a food until you dare to try and experiment with it. And whether you're a smoothie lover, a pizza addict or crazy for fries, I can promise you this:
There's no sweeter "taste testing" than when cooking with sweet potato!
What's your favorite sweet potato recipe? What food did you used to avoid but now love? Comment below!