The sweet potato is not only a favorite fall and winter comfort food, and part of the regular Thanksgiving table lineup; it is also a nutritional super star. This orange colored, naturally sweet root vegetable is a great source of antioxidants, beta carotene, Vitamin C as well as potassium, calcium, and natural fiber. The list of the sweet potato’s many benefits wouldn’t be complete without mentioning that it is rich in helpful anti-inflammatory properties too.
The sweet potato is believed to support the body in the prevention of certain types of cancer, especially cancer of the esophagus, stomach, and lung. It is also known to contain anti-inflammatory properties that have been recognized to help the body to better deal with diseases such as arthritis, asthma, and allergies. The high calcium content of the sweet potato supports the maintenance of strong, healthy bones and teeth. Finally, the sweet potato supports healthy immune system functions as well as hinders heart disease, stroke, and liver disease.
In fact, the sweet potato is so jam packed with positive nutritional benefits to the human body that it should be a regularly featured vegetable on our table. Sadly, many seem to indulge their enjoyment of this vegetable only on the Thanksgiving holiday. Perhaps this is because of lack of quick and simple methods of baking this mega nutritional veggie. Here is a super easy way to bake and enjoy a sweet potato anytime.
Selecting, preparing, and baking the sweet potato
When selecting the perfect baker from your local market, look for sweet potatoes that are firm, void of spots, and always choose the ones that are darkest in color because the darker they are the higher their vitamin content.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash sweet potatoes thoroughly, and if necessary use a soft vegetable brush. Pierce the sweet potato several times with a sharp fork or knife. This will allow steam to escape properly from the sweet potato during the baking process, and insure that you successfully avoid the mess and tedious clean up of a potato that has exploded.
Place cleaned and pierced sweet potatoes on a baking sheet as juices will release during baking. Place baking sheet and potatoes in the preheated oven and bake for 40 to 60 minutes depending upon the size of the sweet potato. The size of a sweet potato ranges from approximately 9 oz to 12 oz. A 9 oz sweet potato will require about 40 minutes to bake while a 12 oz potato will likely need the full 60 minutes.
Check the sweet potato for readiness after 40 minutes by inserting a fork. If the inside of the sweet potato is tender, it is ready to eat.
The sweet potato is a companionable vegetable, meaning it goes well with a variety of accompaniments such as a pat of butter, margarine, or diet spread, chopped pecans or walnuts, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey or even a tablespoon of orange marmalade.
They also team up well with a variety of fresh or dried fruits such as baked apple slices, raisins, chopped dried apricots or pineapple. Spice them up with salt and pepper, red pepper, pumpkin pie spices or just a touch of cinnamon and sugar.
You can also top a baked sweet potato with sour cream or yogurt.
Isn’t it time that you got reacquainted with this delicious super nutritional vegetable?
For complete nutritional information on the sweet potato including calories per serving, please visit the USDA nutrient database: Sweet Potatoes.