Sweet Potatoes Because Oprah Says So

Gone are the days of raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens as favorite things. Now it seems to be all about Oprah and her favorite things. Oprah just wrapped up her final Favorite Things (2-part) show in which a ravaging, blood-thirsty crowd goes wild for all the freebies given out—from the most useless, such as an herb-preserving device that maintains herbs’ freshness until you decide to come out of cryogenic deep freeze, to the most expensive, such as a small child. I mainly enjoy these particular Oprah episodes because of the crazed audience’s reactions. For example…

However, her all-time, most favorite thing in the whole wide world, which she just so happens to rule, is the one and only…

Oprah likes them, so you should too. If you don’t, you will be ejected from humanity by Oprah’s bedazzled UGG boat-wearing, 2012 Volkswagon Beetle-driving army. I actually do love sweet potatoes, and it’s not induced by my fear of Oprah’s tyrannical wrath. I like them because of their versatility and the ease in which they can go from a sweet to savory dish with a just a pinch of sugar or salt. They really are the trannies of the vegetable world. Not only are they rich in vitamins A and C, they also contain double the amount of fiber found in regular, Joe-Shmoe baking potatoes. Also, packed with beta-carotene, sweet potatoes boost immunity and help with vision and strong bones.

While sweet potatoes are often mistaken as yams, the two are, in fact, not related and are grown from different plant species in different parts of the world. Just to add to the confusion, canned sweet potatoes are sometimes labeled as yams. They are similar in size and shape, but yams are more sweet and moist and are rarely grown in the United States. Another major difference is that yams do not possess the nutritional benefits found in sweet potatoes.

Since it is the holiday season and the season of giving, I’m giving you two recipes. That’s right, I’m not just giving you one but two magically delicious, partially nutritious recipes. Highlighting the sweetness of  these potatoes, the first recipe is a traditional and highly acclaimed sweet potato casserole recipe passed down to me from my grandmother. This particular casserole does not skimp on fat or flavor. The next is a healthier sweet potato dish that emphasizes more savory notes, and while it may lack in fat content, it does not in the taste department.

This blog is brought to you by—my fear of Oprah 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potato Puree:

5 medium sweet potatoes

1 cup sugar

1 cup milk

3 tablespoons butter, melted

2 eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon salt

Cooking spray

Streusel Topping:

1 cup light brown sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

4 tablespoons butter, melted

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚.
  2. To prepare sweet potato puree, scrub potatoes, prick them several times with a fork, and bake them for 1 hour or until tender. Remove from oven, let cool slightly, and then peel. Place sweet potato meat into a large mixing bowl, and add sugar along with next 5 ingredients. Mix well and pour into a 13×9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
  3. To prepare streusel topping, combine brown sugar and remaining streusel ingredients in a small mixing bowl; mix until crumbly. Sprinkle streusel evenly over sweet potato puree.
  4. Bake at 350˚ for 30 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Yield: 16 servings (serving size: ½ cup)

Maple-Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Onions

2 medium peeled sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 medium sweet onion, cut into 1-inch wedges

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 sprigs fresh thyme

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Rinse the chicken and pat it dry. Arrange sweet potatoes and onion in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Drizzle maple syrup and oil over the vegetables and season with the salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Top with the sprigs of thyme.
  3. Roast, stirring occasionally, for about 45 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender. Yield: 4 servings (serving size: ¾ cup)
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