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Delicious and Nutritious Sweet Potato Surprises

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Sweet Potato Bisque
Southwestern Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Veggies
Baked Sweet Potatoes With Topping
Mashed Sweet Potatoes With Bananas
Sweet Potato, Orange and Cranberry Muffins

(Family Features) - Whether you're watching your calories, counting your carbohydrates or just looking for more healthy options, the sweet potato is a great choice.

Sweet potatoes liven up any meal and are considered diet- friendly. Many popular diets, including South Beach, Atkins and Sugarbusters, have moved sweet potatoes to the "good carb" list.

Ranked as the No. 1 most nutritious vegetable by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), sweet potatoes, or yams, deliver high levels of vitamin A, vitamin C, beta-carotene and potassium. They are also a great source of fiber and calcium.

Sunflower seeds, raisins and maple syrup as toppings offer a new twist to the traditional baked sweet potato. Sweet Potato, Orange and Cranberry Muffins can be a tasty breakfast treat or a healthy dessert alternative.

For a sweeter taste in all of these delicious, nutritious recipes, choose Louisiana sweet potatoes. Available year- round, canned and fresh, Louisiana sweet potatoes add color, taste and nutrition to any recipe. For more recipes and information, visit the Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission's Web site at www.sweetpotato.org.

The Diet-Friendly Sweet Potato - Among root vegetables, sweet potatoes offer the lowest glycemic index rating. That's because the sweet potato digests slowly, causing a gradual rise in blood sugar, so you feel satisfied longer after eating.

Carotenoids and Cancer - Orange vegetables, like the sweet potato, contain phytochemicals called carotenoids. The Nurses' Health Study showed that women eating carotenoid- rich vegetables lower their risk of breast cancer.

A Blast of Beta-Carotene - The sweet potato gets its bright orange color from the large amounts of beta-carotene it delivers. Beta-carotene is known to lower the risk of stroke and fight cancer.

Loaded With Vitamin A - Sweet potatoes have more vitamin A than any other vegetable. Vitamin A is necessary for strong tissues and is required to maintain a healthy immune system, while protecting the body from cardiovascular disease and lowering the risk of stroke.

Packed With Vitamin C - The sweet potato is a complex carbohydrate that contains more than one-third the recommended daily requirements of vitamin C. Vitamin C has been known for its anti-cancer effects and has been associated with an increase in blood levels of "good" or HDL cholesterol, which lowers the risk of heart disease.

Potassium Power - Sweet potatoes are a good source of potassium, which regulates blood pressure. Potassium in sweet potatoes also helps maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in the body cells, as well as normal heart and nerve functions.

Sweet Potato Bisque

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cups (1/2-inch) chunks fresh sweet potatoes, peeled or 3 (15-ounce) cans sweet potatoes, drained
  • 2 cups canned chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste

    1. In large pot, melt butter and sauté onion until tender, about 4 minutes. Add sweet potatoes and chicken broth and bring to boil.
    2. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Pour mixture into food processor and blend until smooth; return to pot.
    3. Add thyme, cayenne and milk and cook over low heat just until heated through. Season to taste.

Calories: 153g     Total Fat: 4g
Cholesterol: 9mg     Protein: 5g
Carbohydrates: 25g     Sodium: 561mg

Makes 4 (1-cup) servings

Southwestern Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Veggies

  • 4 cups fresh peeled sweet potatoes (1-inch) chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups zucchini slices, halved
  • 1 small red onion, cut into small chunks
  • 1 (6-ounce) package portabella mushroom slices, halved
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons taco seasoning mix
  • Salt to taste

    1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Coat baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
    2. In large bowl, combine sweet potatoes, zucchini, onion and portabella slices. Mix in olive oil to coat. Sprinkle with taco seasoning mix and spread on prepared baking sheet.
    3. Bake 40 minutes or until tender and roasted, shaking pan every 15 minutes.

Calories: 138g     Total Fat: 5g
Cholesterol: 0mg     Protein: 3g
Carbohydrates: 22g     Sodium: 241mg

Makes 6 servings

Baked Sweet Potatoes With Topping

  • 1 fresh sweet potato (yam)
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon raisins
  • 2 teaspoons sunflower seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste

    1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Prick potato with fork. Bake on foil-lined baking sheet one hour, or until very tender. Split sweet potato and top with maple syrup, raisins and sunflower seeds. Season to taste.

Calories: 130g     Total Fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 0mg     Protein: 2g
Carbohydrates: 33g     Sodium: 45mg

Makes 1 serving

Notes, Tips & Suggestions
Microwave instructions: Pierce potatoes with fork and arrange on paper towels. Microwave on high 8 minutes; turn potatoes over after 4 minutes.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes With Bananas

  • 3 very ripe bananas, peeled and mashed
  • 1 cup fat free half & half
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 3 pounds cooked fresh sweet potatoes, peeled and coarsely mashed or 4 (15-ounce) cans sweet potatoes, peeled and coarsely mashed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon butter

    1. In medium pot, combine bananas, half & half, honey, brown sugar and orange juice, and bring to boil over medium-high heat.
    2. Cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add mashed sweet potatoes and continue cooking and mixing 3 to 5 minutes, leaving mixture with some chunks. Mixture will thicken slightly as potatoes absorb half & half. Stir in vanilla and butter.

Calories: 289g     Total Fat: 2g
Cholesterol: 4mg     Protein: 5g
Carbohydrates: 67g     Sodium: 92mg

Makes 8 servings

Sweet Potato, Orange and Cranberry Muffins

Whether you're watching your calories, counting your carbohydrates or just looking for more healthy options, the sweet potato is a great choice.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup fresh mashed cooked sweet potatoes or 1 (15-ounce) can sweet potatoes, drained and mashed
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange rind
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups cranberries, coarsely chopped

    1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Use nonstick cooking spray on or paper-line muffin tins.
    2. In bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon. In separate small bowl, combine sweet potatoes, brown sugar, oil, orange juice, egg and orange rind. Add orange juice mixture and yogurt to dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. Fold in cranberries.
    3. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins, filling about three-fourths full. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until done.

Calories: 153g     Total Fat: 4g
Cholesterol: 12mg     Protein: 3g
Carbohydrates: 28g     Sodium: 91mg

Makes approximately 18 muffins

SOURCE: Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission

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