March Is National Nutrition Month
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March is National Nutrition Month and while it is still cold outside there are plenty of vegetables “in season” to take advantage of. On of my favorites is the sweet potato. Sweet potatoes, especially orange and yellow ones, are an excellent source of vitamin A in the form of beta carotene. Vitamin A is important for eye health, as it improves night vision and decreases the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. Vitamin A also helps fight off infection. High amounts of vitamin C are also found in sweet potatoes. One plain baked medium sweet potato has close to 4 grams of fiber and about 100 calories. Not only does the sweet potato promote good health throughout life, but its versatility in the kitchen also makes it an awesome healthy convenience food. Here are my top five ways to enjoy sweet potatoes:
- Preheat oven to 350°F, scrub the potato under running water, dry with a paper towel, place on sheet pan, and bake until fork-tender. Top with your favorite toppings or just eat it plain (I love it this way)!
- Preheat oven to 400°F, scrub potatoes under running water, peel and cut into julienne strips, toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper and bake 40-50 minutes or until desired doneness. (See photo above; I like mine crispy and I love to dip them in spicy ranch dip).
- Preheat oven to 400°F, scrub potatoes under running water, peel, and cut into 2 – inch cubes along with white potatoes, carrots, and parsnips. Toss in olive oil, salt, and pepper, place on a foil-lined baking sheet, and roast for 40-50 minutes or until fork-tender.
- Dice sweet potatoes, sauté lightly in olive oil and add them to your favorite chili recipe. I have added them to vegetarian chili as well as beef-based chili. Adding sweet potatoes to chili adds nutrients, fiber, and flavor, and at $1.00 or less per pound they can stretch your food dollar as well.
- Finally, for those special occasions there is nothing better than a sweet potato casserole. I am pretty confident that there is at least one sweet potato casserole recipe in every church and community club cookbook from Manteo to Murphy so I will let you find your favorite one!