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Sweet potatoes

I’m just confessing my love for sweet potatoes. I baked them for dinner tonight. My boyfriend actually almost (ALMOST) forgot about the meat on his plate because his was so immersed in his brilliantly orange tuber. I had originally intended on taking a picture to post, but alas, the taters were gobbled before I had the chance. Instead, here is my artistic interpretation of what a sweet potato looks like sliced open and sitting on a plate:

ImagePicasso whaaat?

Sweet potatoes are just great. They’re so full of fibre (1 medium baked potato, skin on, has about 4 g of fibre). They are also high in vitamin A, C and chalk full of good ol’ antioxidants. At a mere 100 calories per medium spud, they’re the perfect side – or even a main when you add a few accessories.

Look for small to mid-size potatoes – think tip to tip pinky to thumb if you spread your fingers REALLY wide. Check for bruising, cuts and mold. Make sure they’re nice and firm to the touch. Store them out of the fridge, like you would a regular potato.  Tip: if you’re cooking them whole, make sure to buy potatoes close in size. This will ensure they cook at the same speed.

Here’s how I bake my sweet potatoes.

Ingredients – multiply per person

  • 1 small/medium sweet potato

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425oF
  2. Poke the potato a few times on all sides with a fork or a knife (to let steam escape, otherwise your potato will explode*)
  3. Bake directly on oven rack for about 45-50 minutes, or until tender enough to easily insert a fork
  4. Let cool for about 10 minutes before eating. Cut a slit in the skin and add whatever fixin’s you want (I like just a wee dab of salted butter – less than a teaspoon – and some freshly ground pepper)

Voila! A gorgeous addition to your meal that’s so sweet it stands tall next to any dessert. Enjoy your treat!

* I can confirm this. I forgot the poking step until about halfway through and one of my potatoes split open a bit.

Full snacks ahead!

I love to snack. I really do. Snacking is by far one of my favourite hobbies. Snacking also helps in preventing overindulging in meals. The problem is though, so many prepared and easy-to-grab snacks are high in sodium, fat, sugar and overall calories. For example, one serving of Lays brand classic potato chips yields 280 calories, 28% of your recommended daily fat intake* and 14% of your recommended daily sodium intake*. Potato chips and other salty or sweet snacks are also referred to as “empty calories” because they contain little nutritional value aside from energy (ie way high in the calorie count and way low in vitamins and minerals). The trick: only acceptable snacks are carrots and celery sticks and cauliflower.

Kidding, kidding. I had you scared there, didn’t it? While the above veggie choices will make a fantastic snack, it would be terribly dull to crunch solely on crudites, especially sans dip. But DO look for snacks that are light in the calories. Eat Right Ontario recommends snacks between 85-250 cals per serving. That being said, serving size is very important. Make sure you stick to what is listed as a serving size on your package or be prepared to calculate the additional calories, fat, sugar and sodium content. Compare labels between similar packaged foods, and choose those which are lowest in calories, sodium, fat and sugar. An even better option would be to make your own snacks.

Fruit, low fat dairy products, veggies, whole grain goods, hard boiled eggs and nuts are the first suggestions I have to make. Sometimes though, you really do need your salty, crunchy fix. I like roasted chickpeas (see this blog for the recipe) and kale chips (see below). That way you control how much salt and oil is being used and you’re also getting some super healthy benefits: protein, fibre and folate from chickpeas and vitamins A, C and K, folate, fibre, iron and antioxidants from kale. Kale, like it’s leafy green friends, is also REALLY low in calories, which is great for the waistline! As with packaged foods, you will still need to watch your portion size. Stick to a couple handfuls of chickpeas. Kale chips are lower in calories, so feel free to eat those a bit more liberally – they do still have oil and salt though, so do use some discretion.

Krispy Kale ChipsKale chips

  • 1 bunch kale
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Your favourite sodium-free seasoning

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350oF
  2. Wash and trim stems from kale leaves. Tear into bite size pieces and place into a respectable bowl for the amount of kale.
  3. Drizzle just a touch of olive oil into the bowl (1-2 tsps should be enough depending how big your bunch is). Follow the oil with a pinch or two of salt and gently massage the kale until the leaves are evenly covered with oil.
  4. Spread your leaves onto a baking sheet in a single layer. My oven is an appropriate size for a dollhouse, so two batches were required as one bunch of kale was too much to fit on one of my teeny tiny baking sheets
  5. (optional) Sprinkle with any seasoning you like – I used cajun and cracked black pepper, the spicy kick was AMAZING. Other suggestions are curry powder, chili powder, chili flakes, whatever you have on hand.
  6. Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes. Leaves should still be green, not brown (in other words, burnt kale chips do NOT taste good…).
  7. RUN to the grocery store and buy more kale because these will be gone in the blink of an eye.

 *based on a 2,000 calorie diet reference