Oh, I am so sneaky!
You see, even though Kim and I had chosen our SOS (Sweet or Savory) Kitchen Challenge key ingredient a week ago, I wanted to suss out the general response to this food before posting, just for fun. So I posed a question on my DDD Facebook page, asking y’all what was your favorite root vegetable. Secretly, I was hoping for our veggie to win out. . . and, in the course of our conversation over there, it became clear that the frontrunner was none other than our very choice for this month:
SWEET POTATOES (KUMARA)!
Yes, my friends, the ever versatile sweet potato is our SOS key ingredient this month! Oh, so sneaky. But also, delicious.
Do you love sweet potatoes as much as Kim and I do? They really are the Phillip Seymour Hoffman of root veggies: aside from being ubiquitous on food blogs this time of year, they’re equally comfortable as your mild-mannered dinner companion, your spicy weekend fling, or your sweet chaperone for Sunday brunch. Indeed, they’re the perfect ingredient for a sweet or savory challenge, since they straddle both flavors with aplomb.
And we’re not the only ones who love sweet potatoes here in North America. These orange (and sometimes yellow, white, or purple) fleshed tubers are a staple in many types of cuisines, from African spicy stews to Chinese soup and steamed buns to Japanese tempura–and let’s not forget our own favorite candied sweet potatoes and the ever-popular sweet potato fries. I’ve written about these orange gems before, when I devoted an entire “Lucky Comestible” series to them on this very blog; that’s how much I love them!
One theory states that sweet potatoes, originating between Mexico and Venezuela, were cultivated as early as 2500 BC. They also existed early on in Polynesia, where they’re called kumara (which is also the Maori name used in both New Zealand and Australia, as I found out from my friend Johanna’s blog). Nowadays, sweet potatoes are cultivated anywhere it’s warm enough to support the crop, but most crops originate in China; in North America, the leading producer of sweet potatoes is North Carolina. Go figure!
Aside from their delicate flavor and culinary versatility, sweet potatoes are nutritional superstars. Their high fiber content makes them a great source of complex carbohydrates. They’re also extremely high in beta carotene (converted to Vitamin A in the body) and vitamin C; with good quantities of iron and calcium (about 10% and 3.5% of the daily requirement, respectively, per serving). For vegans (hey–just like all 556 of us participating in Vegan MoFo this month!), they offer up 3 g of protein per medium root, which will give you a good head start on your daily quota.
In fact, in a 1992 study by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), sweet potatoes were compared to a selection of other nutritious vegetables on a series of attributes, such as fiber content, vitamins, minerals, etc.–and sweet potatoes ranked Number One on the list. And here’s a bonus: they are basically fat-free, rating low on the glycemic index and with only about 100 calories per serving!
No wonder we love the sweet spuds.
Interestingly, there is some controversy over what is and isn’t a true sweet potato. In North America, we often use the terms “sweet potato” and “yam” interchangeably, but according to this site, true yams are a different vegetable entirely, and not even distantly related to sweet potatoes.
Whatever you call them, we want you to cook up some of your favorite dishes with these vibrant root veggies and submit them to the challenge this month!
And once again, there will be prizes!
Both Kim and I are giving something away this month: once all the entries are submitted and the linky is closed (at midnight CST on November 30th), we’ll pick two names at random. One reader will win a custom handcrafted jar cozy from Kim (perfect for those of us who like to tote our own drinks with us when we’re out and about!); and the other will receive a package (pdf file) with both my ebooks, Anti-Candida Feast and Desserts without Compromise. (And. . . you may just find a sweet-potato based recipe or two within their pages!)
To enter the challenge, simply cook up a new recipe–either sweet OR savory (or both)–using sweet potatoes, following the usual SOS guidelines for ingredients and submission requirements. Then submit it by linking up to your blog post with the linky tool, below. Be sure to add a link to this page on your post, and if you wish, include the SOS Logo.
We look forward to more of your delicious, creative, enthusiastic entries this month!
~ Kim & Ricki