Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mashed sweet potatoes in 10 minutes

Nine days until Thanksgiving, which means cooks everywhere are hauling out the big guns -- i.e. pots, peelers, and mashers -- to make their annual mashed potatoes. But this little chef asks, why slave over a hot stove burning your hands on taters when you can make a delicious (and much healthier) bowl of mashed sweet potatoes in the microwave instead?

This autumnal side dish hits all the high points -- nutritious, delicious, fast, and cheap. Hat tip to the Express yet again for keeping me not-fat, smart, and happy with such great recipes.

But before I give you the recipe, here are some fun facts about the humble sweet potato:

* People have been enjoying sweet taters since prehistoric times. How do we know? Sweet potato relics dating back 10,000 years have been discovered in Peruvian caves. (source) Thank God folks didn't clean up back then!

* Christopher Columbus brought sweet potatoes to Europe after his first voyage to the New World in 1492. (source) It seemed a fair trade for guns and pestilence.

* The English word "yam" comes from the African word "nyami," which refers to the starchy, edible root of the Dioscorea genus of plants. (source)

* Although the terms are generally used interchangeably, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires that the label "yam" always be accompanied by "sweet potato." (source) This way, we never really quite know what's going on.

* One baked sweet potato (3 1/2 ounce serving) provides over 8,800 IU of vitamin A. This is TWICE the recommended daily allowance, yet it contains only 141 calories making it valuable for the weight watcher (like me!). (source)

* The sweet potato is not a potato or even a distant cousin. Potatoes are tubers; sweet potatoes are roots. (source) In other news, a chick pea is neither a chick nor a pea. Discuss.

* A sweet potato by any other name would taste as sweet, right? Here's what they're called around the world: batata, boniato, camote (Spain); kumar (Peru); kumara (Polynesian); and cilera abana,"protector of the children" (eastern Africa); kara-imo, "Chinese potato" (southern Kyushu, Japan); Ubhatata (South Africa); and satsuma-imo,"Japanese potato" (most of the other parts of Japan). (source)

But enough of all that. You just wanted the recipe, didn't you? ("More eating, less learning, Julia!") Ok then, here you go.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients

1 2-pound 8-ounce can sweet potatoes (usually called yams) in syrup, drained
2 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon (or to taste -- I sprinkled willy-nilly)
1/4 tsp nutmeg (again with the willy-nillyness
1 cup chunky apple sauce (go with unsweetened, no need for extra sugar. Smooth works as well.)

In a large microwave-safe bowl, mash the sweet potatoes with a potato masher or fork. Stir in the honey, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir in the apple sauce.

Cover the bowl, then microwave on high for 3 to 5 minutes, or until hot, stirring once midway through. I found five minutes did the trick.

It says it serves 6, but I don't believe the recipe. They would be very little servings, which is ridiculous, because as we LEARNED above, sweet potatoes are very healthy and can be eaten in decent quantity. So I'd say this really serves more like 4.

And that's it! You're done! I don't even have an opportunity to make snarky asides, because that's how fast and easy this recipe is. Enjoy!

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