Sweet potato season is upon us here in the great state of NC. Did you know that NC is the leading producer of sweet potatoes in the US, producing ~40% of the national supply? To learn everything you could possibly want to know about the NC sweet potato go here. I truly had no idea myself until we moved here 5 years ago and was astounded by the mere #of roadside stands selling sweet potatoes. The Carpenter came home this week with I’m guessing to be around 30 pounds of these bright orange, nutrient packed roots. Yes, the sweet potato is a root, compared to regular potatoes which are tubers (underground stems).
Now I certainly could store them for a couple of months in a cool, dark place with a temperature between 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the season is quite long so I’ve been giving them away to neighbors/friends along with apples gathered from our trip to Western NC last weekend. We also rank high in apple production, 7th in the US, with over 200 commercial apple operations in the state. The Carpenter and I make it a point to visit Hendersonville, NC every year for apple season. Our favorite orchard to visit is Grandad’s Apples off of Chimney Rock Road. This road must have at least 50 orchards, one after another, but we keep going back to Grandad’s because they are guaranteed to have our favorite NC apple- the Goldrush. The Goldrush is described as having a unique rich spicy flavor with a firm texture and I concur!
Since the Carpenter and I are big fans of the sweet potato and I have the mother load right now I have been inserting them into meals everyday. Not only is the sweet potato a powerhouse for nutrients it is also easy to prepare, affordable, and can be used in each meal of the day. Let’s breakdown this powerhouse a little bit more:
- 1 cup = 65% of the minimum necessary daily amount of Vitamin C.
- High in calcium, folate, potassium and beta-carotene.
Beta-carotene is an antioxidant which converts to Vitamin A in the body: 1 serving can provide you with as much as 700% of the US RDA for Vitamin A.
Low glycemic index which impacts your blood sugar levels. High glycemic foods cause a spike in blood sugar so people with diabetes need to beware. Sweet potatoes only have a glycemic load of 17 whereas a regular white potato is 29.
- Considered an anti-inflammatory food, from anthocyanin, and great for the prevention and management of inflammatory diseases.
My favorite recipe thus far in the 2013 sweet potato season is hands down this Vegan Sweet Potato Chili as originally found on Adventures of a Mamarazzi. I made some modifications of my own, mainly to give it a little more spice and heat. This chili is vegan and gluten free and I served it up with a spinach salad and some Bob’s Red Mill gluten free cornbread (w/ jalapenos). Talk about a perfect meal for our first chilly Fall evening.
Vegan Sweet Potato Chili
Yields 6 servings
1 lb. bag black beans, rinsed & cooked (or 29 oz. canned beans)
1 6 oz can tomato paste
40 oz vegetable stock
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 can Rotel tomatoes
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons oregano
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks
Heat the oil in a large heavy soup pot over medium low heat. Add onions and peppers, and cook until soft and they start to turn brown. Add the garlic, and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, and oregano and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the beans, stock, Rotel and potatoes. Continue cooking on medium for about 20-25, stirring frequently, until potatoes are cooked and the chili has thickened. Add a bit of water if the chili becomes too thick for your liking.