Monday, November 7, 2011

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

Ahh... a Southern favorite, the sweet potato! It's amazing how far two of these sweet potatoes can go in a meal! My goodness, they sure are huge!  I'm forever trying to find enticing ways to get my kids to eat veggies.  The theory is, let me add a bunch of yummy ingredients, whip them up until they are as fluffy and light as a cloud, and add a kid favorite (mini marshmallows) as an extra incentive.  Worth a shot, huh?
Ingredients:
2 large sweet potatoes
2 Tbsp butter
brown sugar to taste 
1/2 cup or so of whipping creamcinnamon to taste
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
miniature marshmallows
zest of one orange


Method:
Scrub the sweet potatoes well.  They DID come out of the dirt!  Prick them several times with a fork to allow the steam to escape while baking.
Bake at 375 degrees F for 75 minutes, or until a fork inserted goes into the flesh easily, and you can squeeze them with your fingers.  They will get wrinkly like this, and some of the natural syrup will start seeping out of them when they are ready.
Slice each in half lengthwise.  Scoop out the potato flesh (my 3 year old calls this the "guts").  Careful to leave a bit of an edge when scooping out them flesh. The skins are very very fragile, not hard, as on a regular potato.
To the flesh, add butter, cream, cinnamon, an egg, brown sugar.  Whip them with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. 
Refill the potato "boats" with the filling.  I added the marshmallows on top and then baked them.  You could also bake them without the marshmallows and add them for the last 5 minutes or so.  Actually, I just got caught up in the moment (3 year old helping to place the marshmallows) that I forgot.  Sprinkle with a little cinnamon sugar and add the zest of an orange right on top.
Bake uncovered at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes.

Please visit my Recipe Index for more recipe ideas to cook with/for your family!  Here are a few more great side dishes:



Written Method:
Scrub the sweet potatoes well.  Prick them several times with a fork to allow the steam to escape while baking.  Bake at 375 degrees F for 75 minutes, or until a fork inserted goes into the flesh easily, and you can squeeze them with your fingers.  They will get wrinkly like this, and some of the natural syrup will start seeping out of them when they are ready.
Slice each in half lengthwise.  Scoop out the potato flesh (my 3 year old calls this the "guts").  Careful to leave a bit of an edge when scooping out them flesh. The skins are very very fragile, not hard, as on a regular potato.  To the flesh, add butter, cream, cinnamon, an egg, brown sugar.  Whip them with a hand mixer until light and fluffy.  Refill the potato "boats" with the filling.  I added the marshmallows on top and then baked them.  You could also bake them without the marshmallows and add them for the last 5 minutes or so.  Actually, I just got caught up in the moment (3 year old helping to place the marshmallows) that I forgot.  Sprinkle with a little cinnamon sugar and add the zest of an orange right on top.  Bake uncovered at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes.


Food Nerd Notes:
Nutrition...
According to nutritionists at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the single most important dietary change for most people, including children, would be to replace fatty foods with foods rich in complex carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes.

CSPI ranked the sweet potato number one in nutrition of all vegetables. With a score of 184, the sweet potato outscored the next highest vegetable by more than 100 points. Points were given for content of dietary fiber, naturally occurring sugars and complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins A and C, iron and calcium. Points were deducted for fat content (especially saturated fat), sodium, cholesterol, added refined sugars and caffeine. The higher the score, the more nutritious the food. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, Washington D.C. copyright 1992

The reasons the sweet potato took first place? Dietary fiber, naturally occurring sugars, complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins A and C, iron and calcium. The sweet potato received a score of 184; the vegetable ranked in second place was more than 100 points behind with a score of 83.

Sweet potatoes are high in the following: beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin B6 and vitamin C; fiber, thiamine, niacin, potassium and copper. They are also a good source of protein, calcium, vitamin E.

The numbers for the nutritional sweet potato speak for themselves: almost twice the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A, 42 percent of the recommendation for vitamin C, four times the RDA for beta carotene, and, when eaten with the skin, sweet potatoes have more fiber than oatmeal. All these benefits with only about 130 to 160 calories!

Origins....
The center of origin and domestication of sweet potato is thought to be either in Central America or South America.  In Central America, sweet potatoes were domesticated at least 5,000 years ago.  They were most likely spread by local people to the Caribbean and South America by 2500 BC. The sweet potato was also grown before western exploration in Polynesia.  Sweet potato has been radiocarbon-dated in the Cook Islands to 1000 AD, and current thinking is that it was brought to central Polynesia around 700 AD, possibly by Polynesians who had traveled to South America and back. 

Sweet potatoes are now cultivated throughout tropical and warm temperate regions wherever there is sufficient water to support their growth.  Now, the majority comes from China, where about half of the Chinese crop is used for livestock feed.  In the U.S., North Carolina, the leading state in sweet potato production, provided 38.5% of the 2007 U.S. production of sweet potatoes, followed by California, Louisiana, and Mississippi. 

The town of Opelousas, Louisiana celebrates a "Yambilee" every October since 1946. After the Frenchmen who established the first settlement at Opelousas in 1760 discovered the native American tribes eating sweet potatoes, the sweet potato became a favorite food item of the French and Spanish settlers and thus continued a long history of cultivation in Louisiana.

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