I’m not a huge fan of the whole idea of superfoods. It always feels more like a marketing gimmick than nutritional advice. Eat kale every day and live until you’re 120! Drown yourself in pomegranate juice and never feel tired again! That’s not how food works. While America and much of the rest of the industrialized world would be better off if we all ate more plant foods, that doesn’t mean that we can expect one or two items to do all the heavy lifting.
Cookies are a sometimes food, according to ancient Cookie Monster wisdom, but the truth is that every food is a sometimes food. You shouldn’t overdo it no matter what “it” is. This is why I prefer the idea of nutrition superstars instead. Actors in a movie, no matter how famous they are, need the support of a lot of other people to produce it and you’d get mighty sick of them if it was the same people in every movie. Multiple nutrition superstars are still good to have around, providing fantastic nutrition and rounding out your diet. For the next few weeks, I’m going to be going over some of my favorite nutrition superstars and ways you can add them to your diet. First up: sweet potatoes.
Vegetables are the foundation of nutrition. Whether you’re counting them up by the ounce or calorie, their nutrient density blows everything else out of the water. But you need variety. Luckily, vegetables make figuring out a few ways to mix up that variety fun, because you can eat a rainbow of them every day! Sweet potatoes bring an enticing orange to the table, like a warm summer sunset. (Unless you get one of the purple varieties, which has a whole other set of benefits, as the color comes bundled with antioxidants.)
Sweet potatoes are one of nature’s unsurpassed sources of beta-carotene, with a cup of sweet potato providing 214% of your daily vitamin A needs while coming along with a mere 180 calories. It also provides over half your vitamin C and manganese, with generous amounts of pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, biotin, potassium, and fiber, too. A few servings of sweet potatoes every week would be a smart–and delicious–addition to your diet. And here are twenty-five amazing, healthy ways you can do that.
Serve up a meatless meal of Sweet Potato and Spinach Quesadillas tonight. You’ll get an immune boost from the beta carotene in the sweet potatoes, and 20 percent of your daily iron needs are met with this veggie quesadilla. Plus this quesadilla contains more calcium than a glass of milk! This dish contains more calcium than a glass of milk, plus you’ll get an immune boost from the beta-carotene in sweet potatoes.
Rock and roll, spiralizer. You’ve officially taken the front seat in the must-have kitchen tools of the year. Folks can’t get enough of this fun tool that turns just about any veggie or fruit into a noodle. This time, it’s all about the sweet potato. These sweet potato noodles hit the spot when you’re craving a warm, hearty, and comforting dinner. But, unlike pasta, you’re getting more veg in every bite.
Take a break from sweet potato fries and try out tots instead. Oven-baked until they’re brown and crispy, these tots will satisfy your wildest savory cravings without overloading you with calories and fat. Served with a zippy jalapeño ranch dipping sauce that’s loaded with protein and fresh herbs, these cute sweet potato tots make for the perfect appetizer or mid-afternoon snack that your kids will devour.
The ultimate vegetarian chili powered by fall flavors. Sweet potato, black beans, and plenty of aromatics simmer in a velvety, pumpkin-infused tomato broth that is ultra rich and comforting. A pinch of cinnamon and dash of chipotle chili powder add a robust flavor profile that will warm you up from the inside out. Add any pumpkin-flavored beer you like. As far as toppings, the sky is the limit. We swoon over a hearty dollop of 2% Greek yogurt, fresh cilantro, and green onion.
Serve these delicious, guilt-free treats piping hot. They have about one-third the calories and fat of traditional rolls, and a boost of beta-carotene from naturally sweet sweet potato.
The simple, scalloped shell made from thinly sliced rounds of sweet potatoes make this version of a popular brunch (or supper) dish gluten-free. Choose potatoes with comparable diameters to create uniform slices for the easy-to-make crust. A mandoline makes slicing quick and precise, but a sharp chef’s knife will work too. You can also slice the potatoes in the food processor by using the slicing blade.
This mouthwatering sweet potato pudding recipe will satisfy lovers of crunchy pecans and spices. Divide this tasty fall side dish among 4 bowls, and top evenly with yogurt mixture for the ultimate culinary treat. Since sweet potatoes are so naturally sweet, this recipe slashes the sugar.
Just like the name says, this recipe takes the traditional potato salad to a new level, with a great nutritional boost as well.
These tasty and satisfying sweet potato skins are a perfect appetizer or even served as a side dish. They are fully loaded and melt in your mouth!
Pump up a side salad with warm, roasted vegetables.
Can I get a hooray for sweet potatoes? While I love them by themselves, they’re especially delicious when combined with spinach and coconut oil, like in these veggie burgers, for example. They pair extremely well together and give these burgers even more of a nutritional punch. If you’ve never attempted veggie burgers, I highly recommend you do. They’re perfect for a weeknight dinner and honestly could not be simpler!
Coated in orange juice and spices — in addition to the usual oil — this sweet potato, carrot, and onion mix pops with flavor.
Looking for the most perfect prepare-ahead breakfast option for your busy work days? Look no further than these simple 2-ingredient egg nests! It looks fancy, but believe us — this one is super simple. All you need to do is shred a few sweet potatoes, bake them into “nests” inside a muffin tin, and crack an egg inside. They’re the ideal grab-and-go protein breakfast!
A delicious and easy frittata that is perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
A quick and easy recipe that is incredibly filling while also giving you a wide array of vitamins and minerals, with a couple of good doses of protein and fiber to boot.
And of course, the classic… (But with a healthier twist without frying!)
Wow, putting this list of recipes together made me absolutely starving for some sweet potatoes. I chose the healthiest recipes (so, alas, no marshmallow and brown sugar drenched candied sweet potatoes) and things that my family eats, because often times when I see lists like this I scoff a bit at the idea of anyone wanting to eat the recipes. But maybe I’m weird and everyone else in the world loves shrimp and cream cheese stuffed sweet potatoes. Don’t let my taste preferences hold you back!
There are so many fantastic ways to fit more healthy foods into our daily lives. I hope this list helps you get a couple of servings of sweet potatoes every week. For my next nutrition superstar, I’ll be jumping to a new spot on the veggie rainbow: beets!