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"Smell brings to mind... a family dinner of pot roast and sweet potatoes during a myrtle-mad August in a Midwestern town. Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines hidden under the weedy mass of years." ~ Diane Ackerman.

Sweet potatoes are simply yum and guess what, it's not only us who think so. Proof has been found in some Peruvian caverns by archaeologists that this nutrient storehouse was consumed by man almost 10,000 years ago! Called the cilera abana in Eastern Africa which literally translates to 'protector of the children', these native central American roots comprise a unique variety of proteins whose performance equals about 33% of the activity of the human body's self-generated antioxidant known as glutathione.

Just imagine - 3.4 ounces of raw sweet potatoes contain only 86 calories, out of which none come from fat. In addition to that, it contains almost 337 mg of potassium, 55 mg of sodium which is roughly 2% of the Daily Value requirement of this mineral, calcium, iron, 1.57 g of proteins, and 20.12 g of total carbohydrates. Most importantly, the dietary fiber content in 3.4 ounces of sweet potatoes is almost 12% of the stipulated amount of fibers needed by the body on a daily basis. Moreover, it is blessed with an enzyme which meticulously changes the starch content of the sweet potato into sugars, which in turn can be cashed in as energy! It does not end here. Sweet potatoes have about 284% of the DV of vitamin A requirement (in the beta-carotene form mostly) as well as vitamin B6 and C. So, it is obvious beyond an inkling of a doubt that sweet potatoes were created to be devoured generously by mankind. So, here are some easy ways in which you can exploit the nutrients of the world's 6th most important crop yield.

Arugula and Sweet Potato Salad
With 303 calories, 11 grams of dietary fiber, and 7.6 grams of protein per serving and zero cholesterol to trouble you, toss up this salad for a group of four. It will not take you more than 55 minutes in all, I promise! All you will need are the following,
  • Sweet potatoes, 2 lbs. (cleaned, cut into 1" cubes)
  • Arugula, 1 lb. (crudely torn into bite-sized pieces, spinach can also be used instead)
  • Red bell peppers, 2 (large, cut into 1" pieces)
  • Olive oil, 2 tbsp.
  • White balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsp. (white wine vinegar can also be used instead)
    Caution: Strictly use apple juice instead of vinegar in case you or any of the eaters are on monoamine oxidase inhibitors for depression or other such causes.
  • Black pepper, ¼ tsp. (freshly ground)
  • Salt, ¼ tsp.
Procedure
Begin by preheating the oven to a temperature of 425° F. Next, take a relatively large roasting pan, mix the oil, pepper, and salt in it, throw in the cubed potatoes and bell peppers in it, and toss thoroughly. Once everything is well commingled, roast the veggies for a solid 40 minutes. Remember to take the pan out every 10 minutes and toss the contents well before replacing it in the oven. In the meantime, line a large glass bowl with the arugula leaves. Coat the roasted veggies well in the vinegar/apple juice by tossing, and then serve it atop the leaves. Not difficult at all, is it?

Mashed Sweet Potato
For a small gathering of eight, please see to it that you have,
  • Sweet potatoes, 4 (skinned and cubed)
  • Sour cream, a cup (low-fat variety)
  • Walnuts, 4 tbsp. (slivered)
  • Brown sugar, 2 tbsp.
  • Butter, 2 tbsp.
  • Cinnamon, ¼ tsp. (ground)
  • Kosher salt, ¼ tsp.
Procedure
This dish with only 138 calories requires you to first boil the sweet potatoes until tender for about 20 minutes on a medium flame. Next transfer the potatoes to a dish and crush them thoroughly with you knuckles. Add the cream, cinnamon, salt, and butter one by one and mash until it becomes smooth and uniform. Now transfer this onto the serving dish. Smoothen the top and then make swirls on top with a fork. Finally, sprinkle some walnuts and the sugar on top and serve it with any meat preparation. Relish it as each person will consume only 0.62 gms of fat, 17.25 calories, and will get the benefits of approximately 23.5% of the DV requirement of vitamin A! One of the most healthy sweet potato recipes.

Sweet Potato Strips
Now this preparation is time-consuming alright but it's all baked and, therefore, healthy and lip smacking! Just gather,
  • Sweet potatoes, 3 (cut into French fry strips)
  • Cayenne pepper, ¼ tsp.
  • Canola oil, 1 tbsp.
  • Taco seasoning, 1½ tbsp.
Procedure
In a transparent plastic bag put the strips in and then throw in the oil, seasoning, and pepper. Now shake the fries vehemently enough to mingle everything well. Preheat the oven to 428° F. Now take one sheet of baking paper and uniformly spread out the fries on it. Place this inside the oven and bake for approximately 15 - 20 minutes. Take the sheet out after that and turn the strips over. Return it to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes. Take out the crispy and slightly brown fries and serve with a savory or sweet dip. Believe me, this preparation of sweet potato fries has 0% cholesterol and only 85 calories.

Here's how you can make a savory dip for these strips. Just mix some mayonnaise, a little adobo sauce, chipotle pepper, and two pinchfuls of cumin powder until you have a smooth, thick cream. Sprinkle a little sugar from top and voila! You are set!

You can also make a cup of hot sriracha dipping sauce that you can make just as easily. You will just need to whisk a cup sour cream, a small, minced garlic clove, a tablespoon of freshly squeezed lime juice, two teaspoons of sriracha chili-garlic sauce, half a teaspoon salt, and half a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper thoroughly in a large bowl until you have a smooth creamy dip.

Sweet Potato and Spinach Quesadillas
High in minerals like sodium and potassium, this dish will make four servings. But, it is slightly high in calories (391/serving) and cholesterol (18 mg/serving). So make it once in a while and enjoy! Just gather,
  • Flour tortillas, 8 (6-inch)
  • Sweet potatoes, 2 (medium, microwaved for 15 minutes until soft but firm)
  • Baby spinach, 5 cups
  • Red onion, 1 (large, sliced)
  • Mozzarella, 1 cup (shredded, partly-skimmed variety)
  • Red wine vinegar, 1 cup
  • Sugar, ½ cup
  • Black peppercorn, 4
  • Olive oil, 4 tsp.
  • Black pepper, ¼ tsp. (freshly ground)
  • Kosher salt, ¼ tsp.
Procedure
In a cooking pan, pour in the vinegar and stir in the sugar and the whole peppercorns. Heat until a steady boil sets in and then gradually add the sugar and dissolve to obtain a solution. Once you have the hot solution ready, throw in the onion in a heatproof bowl and pour in the solution. Let this arrangement stand for at least 10 minutes and then run it through a sieve. Let the solution drain out. Now, peel the potatoes and place the pieces in a large glass bowl. Mash the potatoes very well and then season it with salt and pepper. Next you need to divide the potato mash into 4 equal parts and place them on 4 tortillas. Top the mash with a cup of spinach and ¼th cup of Mozzarella on each tortilla. Sandwich these contents by placing another tortilla on the cheese layer. Heat a teaspoon of oil on a skillet (preferably nonstick) on medium-high. Place one quesadilla on the skillet and keep cooking until the cheese melts and the tortillas become crisp. Remember to change the sides after every 3 minutes. Repeat the process with the three remaining quesadillas. Once each of them are done, cut them into quarters and serve with pickled onions or a tangy/chili dip.

Sweet Potato Mash with Stewed Chicken
Know those days when you feel like cooking nothing and yet your stomach and tongue both demand something delectable? Well, you can make this for a cozy twosome with just,
  • Sweet potatoes, 4 (skinned and quartered)
  • Chicken breast fillets, 4 (stewed and sliced)
  • Garlic cloves, 2 (large and minced)
  • Peas, 1 bowlful (boiled)
  • Cilantro, 4 tsp. (chopped crudely)
  • Cumin powder, a dash
Procedure
Simply, boil the sweet potatoes in salty water, until they soften, for about 15 minutes. Drain the water and mash the potatoes gradually adding the cumin, garlic, and coriander. Place this onto the serving dish in a circular shape. Arrange the peas around the mound of the mash and then make a bed on the mound with the backside of a small bowl. In this depression, arrange the chicken and voila! You're dinner is ready and nutritious as well!

There cannot possibly be easier dishes to concoct than these healthy sweet potato dishes. Try them out. Sweet potatoes are known for their anti-inflammatory properties which facilitate the treatment of diseases like asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis. So, make the most of sweet potato nutrition today!