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Sweet Potatoes

Curried Sweet Potato and Lentils

Curried Sweet Potato and Lentils

I’ve been trying to use up all my winter foods before the much anticipated spring veggie takeover. While I could certainly eat sweet potatoes year-round, it’s likely they’ll soon be swapped for a greener, but equally sweet, starch. I’m talking spring peas, and buckets of them. I’m talking sweet pea soups and all the other early seasonal veggies I can pair with them. Man am I ready for that.

However, in the meantime, I’m still going strong with my long-term love of sweet potatoes and relishing in their convenience. Sweet peas are great, but to enjoy them at their best, you’re in for an hour or so of shucking away their pods. (Totally worth it though!) On the other hand, the sweets used in this dish needn’t even be peeled. In fact, after a good wash, you’ll want to leave on the skin as you chop. It’s this thin outer layer that holds much of the healthy tuber’s potassium and fiber.

Speaking of fiber, I’m not sure there’s an easier (or cheaper), cholesterol-lowering source than lentils. Lentils really don’t get enough credit in my kitchen, but I’m always happy with the results when they do make it to the stove. Filling and versatile, I hope to see more of these on my blog soon.

Here, they’re paired with a flavor-heavy variety of spices and sweetened with both the coconut milk and the potatoes. The potatoes every so slightly melt into the dish, complimenting the coconut which gives the low-fat lentils a slight richness. I recommend serving in a wrap with diced avocado, but any whole grain would work below them as well.

Note, this recipe is meant to feed a crowd. Cut the recipe in half or freeze for later use if yield is too much.

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Black Beans with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Kale

And so it begins. The food coma days move in and I start wishing I was a little Brown Bear so I could go rub my belly and then hibernate for a few.

Since, however, I’m not a bear (surprise, surprise), it’s these next few months where I need energizing, healthy-minded meals the most. To break up the holiday feasts and surrounding food-filled parties, I like to keep my home-cooked dinners on the nutritious side.

However, it is winter after all, so you’ll still find some hearty (but healthy) dishes on here and likely a lot of soups, too, to keep things cozy over the next few months. Exhibit one, this Black Beans with Roasted Sweet Potato and Kale recipe that combines several of my favorite all-star ingredients into one pot. Serve it over quinoa, and boom, I’m not sure you could get a much healthier meal. Though, this would also make a fantastic filling for corn tortillas, topped with a few slices of salted avocado. That definitely qualifies as a smart and revitalizing choice for the time between holidays, too.

For me, a regular running schedule and quality meals like this are key for this time of year. Too much heavy food in between gatherings of getting stuffed on stuffing and gravy, and my holiday cheer starts to go kaput. But with roasted sweet potatoes and kale, (sorry mom, dad, roommates), you can count on me caroling into the new year.

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Hasselback Sweet Potatoes

In the culinary world, Hasselback is currently becoming hipper than a home-brewed hipster right now. The cooking technique, which originates from a restaurant in Sweden called Hasselbacken, turns a potato into a cross between a baked fry and a baked potato. It’s got the crispy outsides you envision of a fry, but the soft insides of a foil-wrapped spud, and the display it generates is great.

Testing out this technique on sweet potatoes, I was pleasantly surprised with what I would label as heaven on a plate. It’s no wonder new versions are popping up all over websites like FoodGawker. For my first attempt, I used a classic combination of brown sugar and salt, adding a hint of smoked paprika and cayenne for some smoky spice. It was simple but perfect, and oh so fun to eat.

If I can give myself a few more nights of sweet potato noshing before the spring season fully kicks in, I’ll definitely be playing with this technique some more. Picture melted Parmesan or garlic wedged in between each slice before hitting the oven, or arugula and toasted nuts as added embellishments after the roasting is complete. I could dream of a million fun combinations, but right now, some outdoor play is calling my name. Enjoy!

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Coconut Sweet Potato Kale Soup

When I go to Whole Foods, I’m like a kid in a toy store. I could spend hours perusing the aisles, admiring the colors, and playing with the packages. This goes for farmer’s markets on warm days too. They are trips I always look forward to and on which I nerd out, although I’m sure I’m not alone in the ever increasing world of foodies.

For me, Whole Foods outings are particularly special because although I’m surrounded by two of these produce galleries within a bike ride’s reach, a college kid’s budget makes these trips unpalatably scant. Luckily for me, my mom knows me well and gifted me with a Whole Food’s gift card this past Christmas.

For the first couple months, I’d been saving most of it, dropping by for a bottle of kombucha or two here and there. However, this past week, I decided I needed a getaway from the regular grocery store to one that would surround me with fresh eye candy, left and right. It’s here that I picked up some lovely Lacinato kale and deep orange hued sweet potatoes.

Yes, this post makes me sound like I come from a family of healthy nut hippies, which I guess to an extent could be true, but kale, sweet potatoes, and kombucha could easily become your best supermarket friend’s too. I decided to take my two prized produce purchases and throw them together in a coconut-laced soup. Feel free to indulge in full-fat coconut milk for a richer, slightly sweeter broth, or keep it on the light side and proceed as is.

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Salmon Fish Tacos with Sweet Potato Puree

Fish tacos always resurrect memories of summer days spent working up an appetite alongside the ocean.  Some of the best fish tacos I’ve ever eaten are the ones I’ve gotten from boxy beach huts down by the shore. Nothing beats spending a hot afternoon swimming through cool, wavy water, only to finish it off by getting messy with a fresh fish taco.

While I’m unfortunately not down at the beach, I’ve still been enjoying some fantastic warm, sunny weather. To go along with it, I’ve also decided to whip up some light and fresh fish tacos so I can enjoy them too.

I decided to switch up the classic recipes that I’m used to tasting and throw in some of those nutrient-loaded sweet potatoes to compliment the salmon I chose for my base. The naturally creamy sweetness of the potatoes, along with the tender fish and fresh, crunchy cabbage slaw definitely made for a winning combination.  Cabbage is coming to its prime, so if it’s not growing in your garden, be on the lookout for it at your local farmer’s market.

You can bet I’ll be making some variation of these again. Hopefully I can make it to the beach by that time for a little extra inspiration!

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