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Feb 1, 2013

February is National Sweet Potato Month
Source: www.flickr.com
Celebrate Sweet Potato Benefits

February is National Sweet Potato Month and the sad thing is the consumption of sweet potatoes is going down. This celebration like say a rice festival encourages new and different recipes and ways to enjoy this delicious vegetable!

Now November is being considered to be national Sweet Potato Month so we may get to celebrate sweet potatoes and the ages they have been around twice this year. Many think sweet potatoes are only for special occasions when it really needs to be a part of our daily diet or at least several days a week.

Sweet potato's great color is a hint to its elevated content of Vitamin A in the variety of beta-carotene. A sweet potato contains over four times the needed daily allowance of Vitamin A, a strong antioxidant that protects against free radicals and helps fight against smoking-related diseases like emphysema and lung cancer. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of Vitamin C and the trace mineral manganese.

As earlier articles I have written on certain foods, sweet potatoes have a positive effect on blood sugar. With a high concentrate of fiber, complex carbohydrates and carotenoids, they help steady blood sugar levels. Since they also lower insulin resistance, they are believed to have anti-diabetic properties. The significant fiber content lowers the risk of cancer and heart disease, too. A medium potato provides us with well over our Daily Value of vitamin A need; which plays a main role in the health of our eyes, skin, skeletal, soft tissue, and teeth.

The orange variety is often called a yam in parts of North America, but is not; with the yam being native to Africa and Asia and rare in North America. The yam is said to have menopausal benefits and benefits of many kinds pertaining to women so that was disappointing to hear.

Still; sweet potato is certainly an important food to make our life healthier. With diabetes being so great in the US it is certainly a great prevention that we should not hesitate to add along with the lung, visual and many other benefits. Let's learn more though!

Happy National Sweet Potato Month!
Source: www.flickr.com
Sweet Potatoes in America


Over 40% of the US supply of sweet potato is grown in North Carolina. That is a great thing and check with your grocer to see where yours comes from. If you are from the US just have US only! Just one small way to help America, simple as it is and know what we are consuming. You can see many of these growers right online! You can even see all the different kinds they have.

There is the Beauregard, Carolina Rose, Carolina Ruby, Cordner, Hernandez, Jewel and N.C. Porto Rico 198. These are a native crop in North Carolina grown in the Coastal Plains. The American Indians were growing sweet potatoes when the English first hit their shores and they have been here since prehistoric times. It is believed that dinosaurs may have eaten delicious sweet potatoes. You think?

After two years of letter writing and a lot of hard work, a fourth grade teacher and her students who took interest in getting the sweet potato the state vegetable; got the bill passed in the General Assembly's summer session of 1995. They aroused the interest and support of a whole community. Finally the sweet potato was named the Official Vegetable of the State of North Carolina!

Sweet potatoes are grown mainly in the Coastal Plain areas of North Carolina; Johnston, Nash and Wilson counties producing the most sweet potatoes. Sampson, Columbus, Wayne, Harnett, Cumberland, Edgecombe and Duplin counties also grow sweet potatoes; Johnston County being the number one producer of sweet potatoes. They do best in these counties because the sweet potato is a root crop and is more suited to the sandy warm soil of this area.


Purple Sweet Potato
Source: www.flickr.com
The Purple Sweet Potato - Extra Benefits

The purple sweet potato has Anthocyanin which gives it its unusual violet color. This sweet potato contains antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties similar to red wine. There are many species of these sweet potatoes and most would be very important in the diet for more than just special occasions. We need to put these in our diet right away…and keep them there!

Studies are showing it is important to have some fat in your sweet potato-containing meals if you want to enjoy the full beta-carotene benefits of sweet potato. They say that a minimum of 3-5 grams of fat per meal significantly increases our intake of beta-carotene from sweet potatoes. One tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil is suggested providing the 3.5 grams of fat.

Being low in sodium, sweet potatoes are cholesterol free, fat free, high in fiber, containing minerals and vitamins A, C and E. Leave the skin on for more nutrition.

Also it is claimed some nutritional benefits from sweet potatoes may not be achieved unless you use steam or boil cooking method. I prefer the steamed and it only takes a few minutes to tenderize beautifully and deliciously!
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Posted: Friday February 1, 2013, 5:12 am
Tags: sweet health cooking february potato diet nutrition benefits [add/edit tags]

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Alice C. (1797)
Friday February 1, 2013, 7:04 am
February is National Sweet Potato Month!


No, Spring hasn't sprung, yet. But, these delightful flowers do have something in common. They are all members of the Morning-Glory Family. And, you know how I adore morning glories! Today, for National Sweet Potato Month, we are going to celebrate the fruit of the flower in the center, the Ipomcea Batatas, the Sweet Potato.


The Sweet Potato is a perennial, with large, tuberous roots, and creeping stems; the leaves are variable in shape, being heart-shaped, with the lobes projecting, and it is not rare to find the leaves deeply lobed. The flower of the Sweet Potato is, in shape, like that of the common "Morning Glory," though not quite so spreading; it is of a purplish color in the throat, and white on the margin. The plant rarely produces flowers in the Northern States, but in the far South, where the season is longer, flowers and ripened seeds are not rare. The plant, as it runs along the ground, strikes root at every joint, or node; this peculiarity, while advantageous in the far South, where the season is long enough for such roots to grow to a useful size, are a disadvantage to the Northern cultivator, who lives where the season is barely long enough for the principal roots to mature. John Fitz Sweet Potato Culture
North Carolina is the largest producer of "Sweet Potatoes-The Vegetable with Super Food Powers" in the United States. Mississippi is next. Almost 90% of the Mississippi Sweet Potato crop is grown within a 40-mile radius of Vardaman, the proclaimed Sweet Potato Capital of the World. As a matter of fact, when I was checking to make sure that February was indeed Sweet Potato Month, the folks at the Mississippi Sweet Potato Council were kind enough to give me an immediate reply.

Louise,
I can confirm that February is indeed National Sweet Potato Month. Mississippi Sweet Potato Growers have a good supply of great tasting sweet potatoes this year. Availability should remain good until the new crop is harvested in September. Movement has been strong. Processing potatoes are in great demand to fill the growing demand for sweet potato french fries. These are exciting times for sweet potatoes.
regards,
Benny Graves
Mississippi Sweet Potato Council
Louisiana, California, Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, New Jersey, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia are all sweet potato producing states. And, according to Jocelyn @ the Sweet Bytes Blog, where you will delight in bushels of sweet potato recipes, Epicurious.com named 2011 as The Year of the Sweet Potato! Whew! That's a lotta tater goodness.

Although I knew sweet potatoes were not related in any way to what I call the plain ol' potato, I didn't know, there were two distinct types of sweet potatoes. Gee, I wonder if that explains the whole yam sweet potato debate?

There are two types of sweet potatoes, often described as "dry-fleshed" or "moist-fleshed." This refers to the mouth feel, not the actual moisture present in the root. Actually, soft versus firm fleshed types would be a more accurate description. "Moist-fleshed" types tend to convert more of their starch to sugars and dextrine during cooking, becoming softer and sweeter than the "dry-fleshed" types. The "moist-fleshed" types are often called "yams." However, the true yam, native to Africa, is an entirely different plant species.

It seems, the confusion between the term sweet potatoes and yams originated in Louisiana in the 1930s. In order to distinguish the orange fleshed moist type sweet potato from, the white-fleshed sweet potatoes grown in other parts of the country, Louisiana farmers adopted the term yam for sweet potatoes grown in their state. So you see, they are really both sweet potatoes and either term has come to be quite acceptable.

It's really a toss up when it comes to choosing the sweet potato's best virtue, Humility, Sustenance, or Delight.

humility

Humble? Only on the outside. Packed within that unruly shaped tuber, is a powerhouse full of pride. Oh, you might not see it. Chances are, you have totally missed one of the most nutritious pleasures the sweet potato has to offer, the leaves. Yes, young, delicate sweet potato leaves are edible. Once thought not to have any economical value, researchers studied the concentration of lutein in sweet potato leaves and were pleasantly surprised to discover that sweet potato leaves rank second in lutien content after marigold flowers and "number one among edible vegetables!" So, not only are those greens a good source of A, C, Riboflavin and now Lutien, they taste good too. Seriously, you must check out this recipe at My Asian Kitchen to get my drift:)

Let's get to the meat of the matter. In one of Alton Brown's sessions on Good Eats, the sweet potato was referred to as the "pork of the root world." (You can see the episode on YouTube here.)

sustenance

Perhaps when it comes to versatility, the sweet potato along with pork can share the same plate. Fact is, anything you can do with a "good ol potato," you can do with a sweet potato, and then some. However, when it comes to sweet potatoes, you may just get more for your money, nutritionally anyway. Fact is, The Center for Public Interest ranks the sweet potato as one of the most nutritious vegetables you can eat. The American Diabetes Association list it as one of its top Super Foods. Sweet potatoes deserve our respect. There's a reason why strained sweet potatoes are one of the first foods babies are introduced to. They're east to digest, it's juices are so rich in sugar they blend beautifully in an eye refreshing and healthy morning smoothie. (gotta get that carotene you know:)

I must confess right here and now. I certainly appreciate the warmth of a glowing baked sweet potato but sometimes, a girl just needs a good old fashioned Idaho best. Then, there's the matter of mix and match. Take for instance, the simple Sunday dinner, Roast beef, mashed potatoes and corn. Mashed sweet potatoes just won't work for me. Sure Mashed Chili Sweet Potatoes blend GREAT with Smoked Turkey Tacos. And, yes, I know, "One baked sweet potato (3 1/2 ounce serving) provides over 8,800 IU of vitamin A or about twice the recommended daily allowance, yet it contains only 141 calories." Gravy goes better on my mashed potatoes. Unflavored please with lots of pepper:) However, would I reconsider, had I been born at a different time? The answer is an unequivocal yes.

It is a well documented fact that sweet potatoes nourished soldiers during the Revolutionary War. Perhaps you've heard of the "the sweet potato dinner picture." It's a work of art by South Carolina artist John Blake White, which hangs prominently in a third-floor corridor of the Senate wing of the Capitol. Some refer to it as General Marion's Sweet Potato Dinner. Legend has it that when the cunning and resourceful "Swamp Fox" (that was his nickname) established camp on Snow Island, South Carolina, he invited a British officer to dine with him. The dinner consisted of sweet potatoes cooked over a campfire. The British officer had never tasted sweet potatoes and was impressed with the modest meal.
Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

The British visitor was a young man who had never seen Marion...His astonishment, when they did meet, was, in all probability, not of a kind to lessen the partisan in his estimation. That a frame so slight, and seemingly so feeble, coupled with so much gentleness, and so little pretension, should provoke a respect so general, and fears, on one side, so impressive, was well calculated to compel inquiry as to the true sources of this influence. Such an inquiry was in no way detrimental to a reputation founded, like Marion's, on the successful exercise of peculiar mental endowments. The young officer, as soon as his business was dispatched, prepared to depart, but Marion gently detained him for dinner, which was in preparation. "The mild and dignified simplicity of Marion's manners had already produced their effects, and, to prolong so interesting an interview, the invitation was accepted. The entertainment was served up on pieces of bark, and consisted entirely of roasted potatoes, of which the general ate heartily, requesting his guest to profit by his example, repeating the old adage, that "hunger is the best sauce." "But surely, general," said the officer, "this cannot be your ordinary fare." "Indeed, sir, it is," he replied, "and we are fortunate on this occasion, entertaining company, to have more than our usual allowance." The story goes, that the young Briton was so greatly impressed with the occurrence, that, on his return to Georgetown, he retired from the service, declaring his conviction that men who could with such content endure the privations of such a life, were not to be subdued.(source)
In April 2007 the South Carolina General Assembly passed a bill designating 27 February of every year as "General Francis Marion Memorial Day."

"There are but few if any of our staple farm crops receiving more attention than the sweet potato, and indeed rightfully so -- the splendid service it rendered during the great World War in the saving of wheat flour, will not soon be forgotten. The 118 different and attractive products (to date) made from it, are sufficient to convince the most skeptical that we are just beginning to discover the real value and marvelous possibilities of this splendid vegetable. George Washington Carver
delight!

Sheer delight! What else can be said about a vegetable so versatile that you can enjoy it for breakfast, lunch and dinner and never experience the same taste twice? And Snack Time too!!! If you're lucky, you have a smidgen of leftovers in the fridge. Or better yet, you have some sweet potatoes stashed in the freezer. (yes they freeze well too!) Wha La! Sweet Potato Fries and your favorite sweet potato dip.

"Wash cured sweet potatoes and bake or boil until slightly soft. If boiled, drain immediately. Thoroughly cool the baked or boiled sweet potatoes. Wrap individually (skins left on) in freezer film or foil and place in plastic freezer bags. Seal, label and freeze. Most sweet potato dishes freeze well. Save time and energy by making a sweet potato dish to serve and one to store in the freezer."
Sweet Potatoes play nice with other ingredients. All kinds of seasonings jump at the chance to get into the game. Sliced, Diced and Baked, sizzle with pleasure at the thought they might be the "chosen one." And, Let's not leave out Microwave.

"Sweet potatoes can be cooked in a microwave oven to save time. Wash and pierce potatoes, then place them on a paper towel. The cooking time for 2 medium potatoes is on high for 59 minutes, and 4 potatoes, 1013 minutes. Yellow and dark orange sweet potatoes can be used interchangeably in recipes. Try not to mix the two types in a single dish, because their different textures and cooking times may affect the outcome of the recipe. The yellow variety takes longer to cook than the orange and will be done at the upper range of cooking times."
Oh what fun it would be to serve up sweet potatoes, not only on the holidays, but at least once a month the entire year. (Sure once a week would be entertaining too:)

Sweet potatoes can also be eaten boiled, fried or roasted. When sliced, dried in the sun and ground, it makes a flour that remains in good condition for a long time. In Indonesia sweet potatoes are soaked in salt water for about an hour to inhibit microbial growth before drying. The flour is used as a dough conditioner in bread manufacturing and as a stabilizer in the ice-cream industry.
In Japan about 90 percent of the starch produced from sweet potato is used in the manufacture of starch syrup, glucose and isomerized glucose syrup, lactic acid beverages, distilled spirits, bread and other food manufacturing industries.

Let's try a day. Shall we? Should I go light with just one heavenly Sweet Potato Cinnamon Roll? Or, shall I sit down to a warm breakfast of Sweet Potato Pancakes topped with a dollop of Sweet Potato Butter? (Home made sweet potato butter would be even better:)
For lunch, I think I'll go with a soup. Sweet Potato & Carrot Soup? No time now, that's a great crock pot recipe though. Maybe tomorrow. I could go for a nice warm bowl of Sweet Potato, Coconut & Shrimp Miso Soup. Uh oh, it takes a bit more time than I have now but it too can be simmered in the crock pot. I've changed my mind, I think I'll go with Sweet Potato Quiche. It's "easy to prepare."

It's 2:30 and I need a boost. Candy! Sweet Potato Bon Bon Candy that's will do it. Just this once I'll pass on the Whole Wheat Sweet Potato Scones (sugar-free & reduced fat) and the Sweet Potato Donuts. Of course, I'll need to stash a few cookies too. Sassy Maple-Sweet Potato Sandies or, Sweet Potato Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies? Oh goodness, I just can't decide.

Hmmm....Dinner. Beef or Lamb? Shredded Beef & Sweet Potato Baked Taquitos or,Lamb & Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie? Gratin or Gnocchi? I'll have to think about this. The Swiss Chard & Sweet Potato Gratin sounds really, really good. But so does Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Brown Butter & Sage Uh Oh, no chard, no sage, no can do. I'll go for color. Purple Sweet Potato Gnocchi In Rice Wine Sauce with Sweet Potato Falafel. Now that's a fusion I may need to save for another day:) Roasted Sweet Potato Lasagna, will do just fine.

Now I've done it. I made myself so hungry for sweet potatoes while writing this post, look what I made for dinner, for real:


I call them Fruit Studded Sweet Potato Pancakes.
Since Marion and I were dining together tonight, I prepared a Walnut Crusted Roast Pork and steamed cauliflower for us both. But, I must say, the Fruit Studded Sweet Potato Pancakes were indeed the star. I had mine topped with caramelized apple slices dashed with ginger and cinnamon sugar and Marion had hers au natural:)



And, It's never too late for Sweet Potato Pie!

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Alice C.
female , single, 2 children
Ringoes, NJ, USA
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