Monday, February 27, 2012

A Different Kind of Sweet... Potato

Carbohydrates. It's highly debated just how healthy they are. In some circles, such as those following SCD, ACD, Paleo, and Keto, foods high in carbohydrates are avoided like the plague. For health or weight loss or both, grains, legumes/beans, most fruits and root vegetables are removed from the diet, and the majority of what’s acceptable are leafy greens, meats, certain fats, and sometimes dairy. I've always been rather confused about the whole thing, simply because runners and rock climbers are encouraged to eat carbohydrates like it was going out of style (which, coincidentally enough, it kind of is). 

I'm not a Runner, or the athlete that runs and exercises to be a professional runner. I'm now only running three times a week for 30 - 45 minutes per run to balance out my rock climbing. I eat typically eat one serving of  gluten-free grains a day, just to keep my muscles happy, but I've been encouraged to eat more (thoughts?).  

I was grain-free for a while, though much of my carbohydrate consumption wasn’t removed. I simply found replacements to brown rice and white potato, choosing buckwheat, legumes, beans, quinoa, and various root veggies instead. For root veggies, I am a sucker for color, particularly orange, so it no surprise that my favorite go-to root vegetable is the sweet potato.

My favorite preparation for sweet potato is treating it like a baked potato, wrapped in foil, baked on high heat for hours until caramelized and gooey. It’s one of those foods that doesn't need anything but itself (and a way to cook it) to be delicious. Interestingly enough, it is really essential to have fat with it, something I thought it never needed. According to the World’s Healthiest Foods profile on the sweet potato:
“It's important to have some fat in your sweet potato-containing meals if you want to enjoy the full beta-carotene benefits of this root vegetable. Recent research has shown that a minimum of 3-5 grams of fat per meal significantly increases our uptake of beta-carotene from sweet potatoes.”

There’s even a certain way of cooking it that releases its nutritional benefits, mainly steaming and boiling. I always felt that boiling and steaming foods, unless using the water, takes away many of the nutrients so I don’t do either method too often. However,
“…Recent studies show excellent preservation of sweet potato anthocyanins with steaming, and several studies comparing boiling to roasting have shown better blood sugar effects (including the achievement of a lower glycemic index, or GI value) with boiling. The impact of steaming is particularly interesting, since only two minutes of steaming have been show to deactivate peroxidase enzymes that might otherwise be able to break down anthocyanins found in the sweet potato.”

I learned this knowledge after making this recipe, but it’s nice to see that I did best by the sweet potato.

The goal for this recipe was coming up with a “whipped” sweet potato, similar to what I had at the Joshua Wilton House in Harrisonburg. At first I tried using your average electric mixer to make it smooth, but it still had miniscule lumps scattered throughout and the Burt-man doesn’t like lumpy potatoes. Again, our handy dandy emulsion blender saved the day, and it was heavenly.

Whipped Sweet Potato

4 Large (around 320 g each) sweet potato, peeled and quartered
162 g Coconut milk
15 ml Coconut oil
1/2 tsp. Sea salt

In a large pot or wok with a steamer and lid, steam the sweet potatoes over medium-high heat until completely cooked through and softened.
Drain the water from the pot to give room for the potatoes, and add the remaining ingredients.
With a wire potato masher or a fork, smooth the lumps and thoroughly mix together the ingredients until integrated.
If there are some persistent lumps left, use an emulsion blender or a freestanding blender to make the finished product velvety.
Serve immediately, preferably warm or hot (it refrigerates well, however, and would be as delicious chilled).

Makes 4 – 6 servings.

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