S is for sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoesI prefer to go for healthy comfort food in January, rather than bother with detoxing or going dry, writes our guest blogger, Dr Susan Aldridge, freelance writer and editor based in London, with an interest in medicine, health, science and food/nutrition.

Sweet potatoes can form the basis of some lovely winter recipes for cheering up those dark afternoons and evenings. The sweet potato comes from a different botanical family from the ordinary potato and is a root rather than a tuber (underground stem). Besides the familiar orange-fleshed variety, they come in white, yellow, pink and potato varieties.

The orange sweet potato is high in the carotenoids that give this vegetable its characteristic colour. These are the precursor of vitamin A, which is known for its antioxidant property.

  • One sweet potato will give you over 100% of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A.
  • Sweet potatoes are a good source of B vitamins, vitamin C and potassium.
  • They are fat-free and lower in calories (though higher in sugar, as you’d expect) than ordinary potatoes.

They are also cheap – you can get all the recipes below from a bag of sweet potatoes and still have a couple left over to make a quick healthy supper of a microwaved sweet potato with baked beans or cottage cheese.

Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Soup

Serves two
2 red onions, peeled and chopped
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into small cubes
100g red lentils
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp turmeric
750ml vegetable stock
1 tsp Marmite
1 tbsp tomato puree
Juice of 1 lemon
Fry the onion, sweet potato and lentils with the spices in coconut oil till browned (about 10 minutes). Add the stock, Marmite and tomato puree. Simmer till lentils and vegetables are tender (about 20 minutes). Blend till smooth. Squeeze in the lemon juice to finish.

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

Serves 3-4
2 red onions, peeled and chopped
2 sticks celery, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
Large jar tomato sauce
1 pack Quorn mince
1 tbsp dried herbs
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp grated Cheddar or Lancashire cheese
3 tomatoes, sliced
Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Fry the onions, celery, carrots and mince in coconut oil till browned (about 10 minutes). Add dried herbs and tomato sauce and simmer to make a thick sauce (about 30 minutes). Transfer to a casserole dish. Meanwhile, boil the sweet potatoes till soft and mash till smooth. Top the mince mixture with the mash and finish with the grated cheese and sliced tomatoes. Bake for 20-30 minutes till browned. Serve with a selection of green vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli and peas.

Sweet potato and cauliflower curry

Serves 3-4
2 red onions, peeled and chopped
1 chilli, de-seeded and chopped up small (second chilli to serve on the side if you’re partial to a bit of extra heat)
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large cauliflower, chopped into florets
1 tbsp curry powder or paste
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tin coconut milk
2 400g tins tomatoes
Fresh coriander and mint, chopped
Fry the vegetables, garlic, chilli and spices in coconut oil till brown (about 10 minutes). Add the coconut milk and tomatoes and simmer for around 30 minutes. Finish with the chopped herbs. Serve with mini naan bread, raita and a tomato, onion and peanut salad. If you like, chop another chilli and serve it on the side.

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