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The sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas), often called a yam in the United States, is a crop plant whose large, starchy, sweet tasting tuberous roots are an important root vegetable. The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens. The sweet potato is only distantly related to the potato (Solanum tuberosum). They are even more distantly related to the true yam (Dioscorea species). The genus Ipomoea that contains the sweet potato also includes several garden flowers called morning glories, though that term is not usually extended to Ipomoea batatas. Some cultivars of Ipomoea batatas are grown as houseplants. The plant is a herbaceous perennial vine, bearing alternate heart-shaped or palmately lobed leaves and medium-sized sympetalous flowers. The edible tuberous root is long and tapered, with a smooth skin whose color ranges between red, purple, brown and white. Its flesh ranges between white, yellow, orange, and purple.

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  • Creamy sweet potato soup Serves: 6 to 8 From Simply Recipes, INGREDIENTS 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter 1 cup chopped onion 2 small celery stalks, chopped 1 medium leek, sliced (white and pale green parts only) 1 large garlic clove, chopped 11/2 pounds red-skinned sweet potatoes (yams), peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 5 cups) 4 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth (use vegetable broth for vegetarian option and gluten-free stock for gluten-free version) 1 cinnamon stick 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 11/2 cups half and half 2 tablespoons maple syrup The leafy tops of the celery stalks, chopped INSTRUCTIONS

    Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add chopped celery stalks and leek, sauté about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 2 minutes.

    Add sweet potatoes, chicken stock, cinnamon stick, and nutmeg; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

    Remove cinnamon stick and discard. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return to pot.

    Add half and half and maple syrup and stir over medium-low heat to heat through. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls. Sprinkle with celery leaves.

    Sweet potato casserole Serves: 8 INGREDIENTS 2 eggs, beaten 1 1/4 cups sugar 1 cup half-and-half 1 large sweet potato (about 1-1/2 pounds), peeled and grated Salt 2 to 3 tablespoons brandy, Peach Schnapps or Grand Marnier 1 orange, sliced 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted INSTRUCTIONS

    Combine eggs, sugar and half-and-half; pour over grated yams in 2-quart casserole. Add salt to taste. Pour liqueur over the top. Arrange orange slices over the top. Squeeze the juice from the ends of the oranges over the top. Pour butter over. Bake at 350 degrees 90 minutes.

    Per serving: 333 cal.; 4 g pro.; 57 g carb.; 11 g fat (6 sat.; 3 monounsat.; 1 polyunsat.); 80 mg chol.; 152 mg sod. Sweet potato and pear stir-fry with chicken and chili sauce Prep time: 40 minutes Cook time: 25 minutes Serves: 6

    Note: Prep time does not include marinade time for chicken.

    INGREDIENTS 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce 1 teaspoon sugar 1 tablespoon mirin or sake or dry white wine 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast or thigh, cut into thin bite-sized pieces 2 teaspoons cornstarch 1 cup fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth 1 1/2 tablespoons Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce or reduced- sodium soy sauce, or to taste 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or to taste 2 large orange-flesh sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces 2 tablespoons canola oil 2 large garlic cloves, minced 2 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger Pinch of cayenne 1 medium yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into bite-size pieces 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into bite-size pieces 1/2 cup canned whole water chestnuts, drained and sliced 1 large Asian pear or Bosc pear, peeled, cored and thinly sliced 1 bag (6 ounces) baby spinach leaves 3 cups hot cooked brown rice 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, loosely packed, for garnish INSTRUCTIONS

    Marinade: Combine soy sauce, sugar and mirin in a container large enough to hold chicken. Add chicken, tossing to coat all sides, and marinate up to 30 minutes at room temperature, or cover and refrigerate for 1 hour, or up to 8 hours. If chilled, bring chicken to room temperature before beginning to stir-fry.

    Sauce: In a small bowl, stir or whisk cornstarch with broth until completely blended. Stir in fish sauce and red pepper flakes. Set aside.

    In a large pot, add sweet potatoes with water to cover. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 3 minutes, until sweetpotatoes are fairly resistant when pierced with a fork. Drain into a colander; set aside.

    Remove chicken from marinade and pat it dry with paper towel. Discard the marinade.

    In a large, heavy skillet or wok, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic, ginger, and cayenne and stir-fry for 30 seconds, or until garlic is golden.

    Add chicken to the skillet and stir-fry for about 3 to 4 minutes, until just cooked through or until juices run clear. Transfer contents of the skillet to a bowl.

    In the same skillet, heat remaining 1 tablespoon of oil over medium- high heat. Add drained sweet potatoes, bell peppers and water chestnuts. Stir-fry for about 3 minutes, until bell peppers and sweet potatoes are not quite tender. Add cooked chicken, pear and spinach. Stir-fry, stirring constantly, just until spinach wilts, about 2 to 3 minutes.

    Stir sauce and add to skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes, just until sauce becomes clear and thickened. Immediately remove from heat. Use a slotted spoon to serve stir-fry mixture over rice. Garnish with cilantro. Pass sauce to add separately, as desired.

    Per serving: 370 cal.; 24 g pro.; 54 g carb.; 7 g fat (1 sat., less than 1 gram); 754 mg sod.; 7 g fiber. Oprah’s sweet potato pie Serves: 12 This recipe comes from Oprah Winfrey's personal cook, Rosie Daley. INGREDIENTS

    For the crust:

    Light vegetable oil cooking spray 2 cups graham cracker crumbs 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 1 large egg white

    For the filling:

    4 baked medium sweet potatoes, see baking directions 6 large egg whites 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger 2 tablespoons vanilla extract 5 tablespoons pure maple syrup 1 tablespoon honey 6 ounces light cream cheese 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice Mock whipped cream, see recipe INSTRUCTIONS

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 10-inch round pie pan 3 times with the vegetable oil to coat.

    Place remaining ingredients for the crust in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 5 times. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and press down firmly, spreading the crumb crust until it covers the bottom evenly.

    Peel sweet potatoes, then put them in a large mixing bowl and mash them with a fork. Transfer potatoes to a blender and add remaining filling ingredients. Whip until mixture is smooth and frothy, scraping down the sides as necessary so all the ingredients are blended. Pour the filling into the crust.

    Bake 30 to 45 minutes, until the center of the pie is firm and not sticky to the touch. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the pie to cool for 30 minutes, then refrigerate for 1 hour.

    To bake sweet potatoes:

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Scrub and dry the sweet potatoes. Prick the surface of eachpotato 4 times with the tines of a fork. Place the potatoes onto the center rack of the oven and bake for about 1 hour, until tender.

    Mock whipped cream:

    Place a can of evaporated skim milk in the refrigerator and a stainless steel bowl and the beaters from an electric mixer into the freezer for an hour. Place the milk in the chilled bowl, add 1 teaspoon each of vanilla extract and brandy, and beat at high speed just until peaks are formed. Use immediately.

    Per serving (with mock whipped cream): 219 cal.; 8 g pro.; 37 g carb.; 4 g fat (2 sat.; 2 monounsat.; 0 polyunsat.); 9 mg chol.; 232 mg sod.; 19 percent calories from fat.

Sweet potato recipes

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013 - 8:49 pm

In season in California: September through January.

How to choose good sweet potatoes: Look for those that are firm and do not have cracks or soft spots.

Taste: Like a potato only sweet; thus the name.

Health benefits: An excellent source of vitamins A and C, plain sweet potatoes are surprisingly low in calories – 114 for a 3 1/2-ounce serving. Like pumpkins, research has shown sweet potatoes help reduce inflammation.

Cooking tip: Since sweet potatoes usually have narrow pointed ends, use a 1-inch strip of aluminum foil to shield each end. Placing shiny side of foil toward potato, crush tightly around pointed ends to promote even cooking of thick and thin areas. IIf you are peeling cooked sweet potatoes, let them cool about 30 minutes. They are easiest to peel when slightly warm.

In recipes, fresh cooked sweet potatoes can be used interchangeably with drained canned sweet potatoes. One 30-ounce can is equal to 1 1/2 pounds of fresh cooked sweet potatoes.

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