Sweet Potatoes Powerhouse Of Nutrition – includes recipes

Sweet potatoes are an extremely versatile and delicious root vegetable that possesses a great number of nutritional benefits.

It is also a valuable medicinal plant, providing anti-cancer, antidiabetic, and anti-inflammatory activities (Source).

Due to its high phenolic and anthocyanin content, sweet potatoes have a high antioxidant activity (Source).

Sweet Potato Pilaf with Cranberries and Pecans

A Powerhouse of Vitamins and Minerals

The most abundant vitamins and minerals found in this root vegetable are:

Vitamin A – Sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene, which your body can convert into vitamin A.

A 3.5 ounce serving (about 1/3 cup) of this root vegetable provides the recommended daily amount of vitamin-A.

Vitamin C – An antioxidant that may decrease the duration of the common cold and improve skin health.

Potassium – As already noted, this mineral is important for blood pressure control, and may decrease your risk of heart disease.

Stuffed Sweet Potato with Chipotle Black Bean and Corn Salad

Manganese – Is a trace mineral that is important for growth, development, and metabolism.

Vitamin B6 – Is an important vitamin as its role in your diet is to convert food into energy.

Vitamin B5 – Also known as pantothenic acid, has shown to alleviate conditions such as asthma, hair loss, allergies, stress and anxiety, respiratory disorders, and heart problems.

Vitamin E – A fat-soluble antioxidant shown to help protect your body against oxidative damage.

Sweet Potatoes and Cancer

Oxidative damage to cells is often associated with increased risk of cancer, which occurs when cells divide uncontrollably.

Diets rich in antioxidants, such as carotenoids, are associated with a lower risk of stomach, kidney, and breast cancer.

Studies indicate that sweet potatoes’ potent antioxidants may reduce your risk of cancer.

Purple potatoes have the highest antioxidant activity.

Lentils and Purple Sweet Potato Stew

Sweet Potatoes and Blood Pressure

You can help keep your potassium levels up and reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure by including foods like sweet potatoes to your diet.

Diets rich in potassium may help regulate blood pressure levels.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes And Figs

If your potassium level is too low, you may see an increase in your blood pressure.

This can put you at risk of developing hypertension, especially when combined with high sodium intake.

Cooking With Sweet Potatoes

It should first be noted that before cooking sweet potatoes, make sure to scrub the skins.

There are a variety of ways to prepare sweet potatoes, including baked, boiled, grilled, and roasted.

Roasted Charred Sweet Potatoes

You can use an oven, grill, microwave, or stovetop.

Enjoy sweet potatoes on their own, as a side dish, in a casserole, or sliced into thin strips and baked – for sweet potato fries.

Enchilada Casserole with Kale and Sweet Potatoes

Mashed, diced or sliced a cooked sweet potato is really healthy a sweet treat.

Baked Beets and Sweet Potato Chips

In Conclusion

Sweet potatoes are underground tubers, a root vegetable which are an excellent source of beta carotene, and many other vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds.

This root vegetable has been studied and shown to have several health benefits, which includes among others improved blood sugar regulation and maintaining a healthy blood pressure.

Overall, sweet potatoes are nutritious, cheap, and easy to incorporate into your diet.

More Sweet Potato Recipes

Roasted Beet, Sweet Potato, Mixed Greens and Shrimp Salad

Goan Coconut Chicken Curry with Spiraled Sweet Potato

Savory Sweet Potato Hash Browns

Hibiscus – An Elixir From The Tropics

Hibiscus - An Elixir From The Tropics

The hibiscus is native to tropical regions of the world, though to pinpoint its exact origin, is unknown. The plant will grow in some arid regions, like California. In the USA, the hibiscus grows well in Florida, and Hawaii.

It is the national flower in the Republic of Haiti, and is the flower of the Hindu goddess Kali, the red flower in particular.

The hibiscus was introduced to the “New World” when it was brought over by African slaves.

Medicinal Benefits of the Hibiscus

The hibiscus has medicinal benefits, as it a good therapeutic for the heart, and kidneys (diuretic). Medical studies have documented that the hibiscus potent antioxidant activity and beneficial effects on blood pressure and cholesterol. Antioxidants help to boost cell growth, immune system and decreases the risk of cancer and cataracts.

It appears the flower has beneficial effects on blood pressure as it is a diuretic, and the compounds in the flower bud inhibits angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), a chemical compound that can increase blood pressure.

Purchasing and Using the Hibiscus

The hibiscus can be purchased dried, as a tincture, or in capsule form. Buying it dry has a great benefit as you can make a tea with it. To receive the health benefits of hibiscus if using it as a tincture, it is recommended to take 1 teaspoon twice a day, and in capsule form, take 1,000 mg  2 to 3 times a day.

There are no known detrimental side effects to using this elixir from the tropics. It is advised though, to have caution when consuming it if you are taking doctor prescribed diuretics.

Hibiscus is a great skin cleanser. Scrubbing the hibiscus leaves on the face and neck helps to remove dead skin, and can help to clear up acne, as the leaves can also remove blackheads and whiteheads.

Hibiscus oil for smooth skinHibiscus oil, which is extracted from the hibiscus leaves, can  help to smooth and soften skin.

Hibiscus has anti-inflammatory properties and anti-aging properties, helping to slow the aging process of the skin.

The hibiscus acts as an antispasmodic, reducing muscle cramps, stomach cramps and menstrual cramps.

It is highly effective in losing and controlling weight. The flower bud has an enzyme called amylase, and it breaks down the starch and sugar in the body, thus helping to loss and reduce weight.

Preparing Hibiscus Tea

Hibiscus is sold prepared in tea bags, though it is better to buy the whole flower dried and prepare the tea yourself. There are several different recipes for making homemade Hibiscus tea, also known as Agua de Jamaica (Hibiscus Water).

If you want to make an individual cup of tea, just pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 tablespoon of chopped hibiscus. Let steep for about 15 minutes, then strain, and add raw honey or coconut sugar. You can also pour it over ice to drink cold.

Agua de JamaicaHere’s a great recipe to make a gallon of Agua de Jamaica.

6 cups water

2 cups dried hibiscus petals

1 cinnamon stick

1 pinch ground cloves

1 pinch ground nutmeg

1 pinch ground allspice

1/2 cup chopped piloncillo (Mexican raw sugar cones)

1 1/2 cups white sugar optional to use coconut sugar

Place 6 cups of water in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil.

Stir in the hibiscus, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice.

Reduce heat to medium-low, and gently simmer until the water has turned a deep red, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Stir the chopped piloncillo into the hibiscus water until dissolved, then set aside to cool 15 minutes.

After cooling, strain the warm liquid into a 1 gallon pitcher through a wire mesh strainer. Squeeze as much liquid from the petals as you can, then discard the petals.

Stir in the white sugar or coconut sugar until dissolved, then pour in enough cold water to fill the pitcher, but be careful not to dilute the flavor. Serve immediately or let stand overnight for best flavor.


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Food Color and Your Appetite

Food Color and Your Appetite

Some colors on the light spectrum can diminish our appetite and have been used to help individuals maintain a well-balanced diet. These colors are gray, brown, black and blue.

Studies on the subject of color and appetite have shown that these colors just noted have a calming effect on our subconscious and can lead us to eat slower and a lot less. The study recommended eating off plates that are crafted in one of these colors to maintain a healthy diet.

Colors and appetite can also work together to create the opposite effect. Red and yellow are incorporated into dishes or table wear as a way to stimulate the appetites of those dining out. Both colors are considered energetic, happy and in many studies, have shown the ability to slightly raise blood pressure.

resturant color schemes - Food Color and Your AppetiteRed is considered particularly intense and yellow is believed to help people concentrate. Together, these colors encourage a strong focus on increasing your appetite.

They are warm and welcoming colors that make people comfortable in their surroundings. While existing in this positive emotional state, there is a tendency to consume greater amounts than one normally might.

Colors and appetite seemed to be linked as shown by the studies. But they can also be adjusted to fit our tastes, diets and styles. So next time you dine out, fast food place or not, notice the colors.

Or the next time you browse a farmer’s market stand, take note of the color schemes around you and note the tactics they are using to entice your appetite to buy more then you may have intended.

bananas and strawberries - Food Color and Your AppetiteThis study should lead us to think about the colors in the food we eat, food that should be more important to us, fruits and vegetables.

Now we can look at these raw, clean healthy foods in a different way.

Not only is the RED strawberry packed with lots of vitamin C, or the YELLOW banana filled with heart healthy potassium, but the color also draws the food closer to you, so you will eat it, and therefore, getting the nutrition you need.


Article Source:

Food Pyramid Caring for Your Health


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Apple Chicken Sausage with Whole Wheat Penne Pasta

Apple Chicken Sausage with Whole Wheat Penne Pasta

There has been a lot of new information on processed foods, seed oils high in omega-6, refined sugar, as being the cause of bodily inflammation. We have also read about lowering our carbohydrate intake, as too much carb’s over works the pancreas and heightens insulin levels. Refined grains is the big culprit to weight gain. Refined grains digest fast and causing rapid use of glucose or a spike of sugar levels in the blood stream, causing the body to store the excess sugar not used, as fat.

But what about whole wheat pasta? Or better yet 100% whole wheat pasta? When consumed, can it be to blame for weight gain as well? No!!

When the fiber is not taken away from the grain, but processed together, is actually better for the body. Fiber causes food to digest slower and at the same time move faster through the digestive tract.  As  the whole grain pasta is digested, it releases a stead flow of glucose (not all at once as does white pasta without the fiber) giving sustained energy. The fiber then pushes the digested food out, not being stored as fat.

A 1-cup serving of cooked whole-grain pasta contains 3.9 total grams of fiber, while the same amount of white pasta contains 2.3 grams.

It is also worthy of noting, that whole grains lower blood pressure, were as grains with the fiber removed can cause blood pressure to raise.

Now for our featured recipe: Apple Chicken Sausage with Whole Wheat Penne Pasta. Here is what you will need:

12 0z. 100% whole wheat Penne pasta, cooked

1 package Al Fresco Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage

1 1/2 cups Alfredo sauce

3/4 cup bell pepper strips, mixed colors

1/2 cup french stringed beans

For the vegetables, I just buy them fresh frozen from the Whole Foods Market. You can use a jar of Alfredo Sauce, but I make my own.

1/4 cup butter

1 cup Heavy cream

1/2 to 3/4 cup Asiago cheese, grated fresh

Heat a small sauce pan, medium-high. Add butter and melt, not allowing to scorch, next add cream and stir while pouring. After the two are well incorporated, add grated cheese and mix in as it melts. Bring to a small rapid bowl, remove from heat and set aside.

Al Fresco Sweet Apple Chicken SausageSome Al Fresco brand sausages you can buy already cooked and at some markets they package it fresh, uncooked. Al Fresco is my preferred brand, as it is minimally processed and no preservatives added.  Click on image to go to their web-site to receive a $1.00 coupon off. I have been buying the package at about $3.50 to 3.99.

I prefer to buy the fresh uncooked sausage.

In a large skillet, cook sausage over medium-high heat. Let sausage crumble to small bits. Add Alfredo sauce, cooked pasta and vegetables. Stir until all are mixed well together.

Plate and serve.

Apple Chicken Sausage with Whole Wheat Penne Pasta  with Italian Rustic Bread and melted Provolone

We had an Italian Rustic Bread loaf and melted provolone cheese on slices of the bread. Wow what a great addition to the plated pasta.


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