Ginger Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Apples

Oh Beautiful for Sweet Potatoes

.. for amber waves of grain…

OK, fine. I have no idea what spacious skies and sweet potatoes have in common, except that both make me happy.

The Vegan Month of Food marches on! I whipped (mashed?) up another side dish from my girl Isa – Ginger Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Apples. (Again with the apples? Yup. I got a great deal on a big ol’ bag of local Virginia red delicious preciouses!) You can find the recipe in the Appetite for Reduction cook book (preview available on Google Books – Ginger Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Apples).

Ginger Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Apples

Ginger Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Apples

This one is like having dessert for dinner – but it’s totally allowable! Sweet potatoes are literally one of the best foods you can eat. They’re a nutritional powerhouse – carotenoids, vitamin C, potassium, fiber – good stuff! It is not unusual to be able to get over 90% of your daily recommended vitamin A from a helping of sweet potatoes. They have great antioxidant properties, to boot. I could go on and on, but I’ll refrain. Just know that these tasty little tubers will rock your nutritional world.

If you’re looking for a subtly sweet, comfort-food-style side dish that won’t leave you starving for nutrients, turn to my friend, the sweet potato. Sing along, little spuds…

For purple mountain majesties….

Kale and Roasted Root Vegetable Soup

If you would have asked me to eat a “root vegetable” last year, I’d have gagged and said no way, even though I had no idea what root vegetables were. Roots? Just sounds bad. It turns out, though, that I really like the root veggies that I’ve tried since going organic! (For the record, the root veggies in question for this recipe are onions, carrots, garlic, and sweet potatoes). Yum!

The “firsts” for me in this vegan-friendly recipe include:

  • First time I’ve cooked with or eaten kale
  • First time I’ve made beans from dried and not from a can
  • First time I’ve made soup from scratch
  • First time I’ve worn my new Asics GT 2150 running shoes

OK, so the shoes are probably irrelevant to the recipe, but they sure are comfy! And hopefully, they’ll not cause blisters the way my old gym shoes did.

The recipe below comes from Emily’s blog – The Front Burner. Check out her recap – she takes much better food photos than I do, and explains every step in detail. This soup covers a slew of nutritional bases – it’s a good source of Vitamin B6, Folate and Potassium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Manganese. It’s low fat, with no saturated fat and no cholesterol.

On with the cooking!

First, I should explain that I did not use canned beans for this recipe. As part of this week’s homework in the GNOWFGLINS e-course on traditional food preparation, we were to make beans from scratch. I bought some dried navy beans at Whole Foods yesterday, so to prepare for this recipe, I soaked 2/3 cup of dry beans in water with a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar. I soaked the beans overnight, then this morning, rinsed them and put them in the crock pot to cook on high for an hour then on low for 6 more hours. I added a thumb-sized chunk of kombu (a sea vegetable) to the crock pot during cooking to tenderize the beans and break down some of the sugars in them that tend to make them… gassy. Kombu also imparts some mineral goodness. By the time I was ready to cook dinner, the beans were ready to go.

The next step was to chop up carrots and a sweet potato and stick ’em in the oven to roast. They didn’t look very exciting so I didn’t take a picture.

Up next: the stranger in my fridge, Kale. (No, not Kato). Here’s what it looked like, fresh from the bunch:

kaleThe recipe instructed me to pull the leaves from the stems. I wondered all the while if I was doing it right….

Peeling kale leaves from stemsI sure had a lot of kale…. the leaves reminded me of a cross between broccoli and seaweed. (Maybe I just had seaweed on the brain from my recent trip to Whole Foods).

Next I chopped up an onion and minced some garlic and sauteed them for a few minutes before throwing in the roasted carrots and sweet potato.

Roasted veggies awaiting kaleThen, in went the vegetable broth, and then the kale. The kale was huge and fluffy in the pot! I feared I was messing the whole thing up, but I took Emily’s word for it that the kale would wilt. I covered the pot and let it simmer for 10 minutes. At the 5 minute mark, I was still pretty nervous – the kale was huge! I think I might have had a little too much kale to begin with, so I added 1 cup of water. That helped, because by the end of 10 minutes, I could stir the kale into the mix and it was starting to look like soup.

I added the seasonings and simmered for 5 more minutes (ready to jump out of my new shoes because it smelled SO GOOD!)

When the soup was done, I ladled it into a bowl and topped it with a dollop of homemade guacamole that I had in the fridge. (Emily recommends topping with chunks of avocado). I slathered some Earth Balance spread onto a slice of my homemade sourdough bread, and…


Kale soupAll I can say is… this soup was AWESOME!! So tasty! My first impression of kale: thumbs up! Kale is a form of cabbage, a relative of cauliflower and broccoli. It’s a highly nutritious, dark leafy green, and has good anti-inflammatory properties and is believed to have potent anti-cancer properties as well. In this soup, it tasted mild – almost sweet. It’s a hearty green – good for chewing!

For all of its nutrition, a big ol’ bowl of this soup clocks in around 235 calories. I can’t wait for the leftovers! 100% delish.

[recipe-show recipe=kale-soup]

Pasta and Bolognese Sauce

Tonight, after checking out the Hadley Valley Preserve trail for the first time (it’s nice! A 2.5 mile looping trail through prairie), I tried out another one of Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious recipes: Pasta and Bolognese Sauce (with Stealth Ninja Sweet Potatoes). This one is healthy all around, with a bunch of carrots in there, too!

I suffered a false start on this one, as I got the onion and carrots all chopped up and in the skillet, then minced a couple garlic cloves right into the pot – only to find that my garlic had gone bad while I was away last week. Oh well. Tossed it all out and started over!

Instead of garlic cloves (I didn’t trust what I had left), I used 1 tsp of Garlic Earth Italian garlic salt – an organic seasoning that my friend Becky makes.

Score another winner for the Stealth Ninja Vegetable Experiment, and another winner for all organic ingredients! This one was so tasty I very nearly licked my plate clean. Highly recommended, and easy to throw together.

The recipe serves 8, so I immediately froze half of the sauce after dinner, then portioned the remaining 3 portions in the fridge for leftovers. I love a recipe that I can get some mileage out of!

[recipe-show recipe=pasta-bolognese]

Grilled Cheese with Stealth Ninja Sweet Potatoes

Who doesn’t love a warm, gooey grilled cheese sandwich… the melty cheese oozing out after every bite… They’re easy to make, and with some Stealth Ninja vegetables, can even be a bit nutritious. Here’s my take on Jessica Seinfeld’s Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with sweet potato puree – from her Deceptively Delicious cook book.

I’ve got a wonderful old Toastmaster Snackster sandwich maker, which makes grilled cheese a snap – even easier than the old fashioned way. This recipe appeared to have real potential – I mean, how can you possibly screw up grilled cheese, right?

I tried out Rudi’s Organic bread, 7-grain with flax (delish!). Also featured: Organic Valley shredded cheddar (hoorah! No ridiculous chemicals or orange dyes!), and organic sweet potatoes.

The verdict: this sandwich wasn’t exactly the cheesy melty pillar of goodness that I’ve come to know as grilled cheese. The problem: there was either not enough cheese, or too much sweet potato puree. I suspected this would be the case, from the photos of the sandwiches in the cookbook.

The sandwich itself tasted delicious. It was plenty good. But the sweet potatoes weren’t exactly stealth – I could taste more potato than cheese. That wouldn’t be a bad thing, if the sandwich weren’t masquerading as grilled cheese. If you have kids that were to this point raised on “regular” grilled cheese, they’re going to know something’s amiss without some modifications.

So I tried it again with a little less sweet potato puree and a little more cheese. It came much closer to passing for grilled cheese.

Here’s the recipe with my modifications. I’ll definitely be making this one again, because – well, any grilled cheese is good grilled cheese.

[recipe-show recipe=grilled-cheese-sweet-potatoes]

Stealth Ninja Vegetable Experiment: Prep

*queue Mission Impossible music*

Actually, I think this mission is quite possible! I am embarking upon what I call the Stealth Ninja Vegetable Experiment. You are about to bear witness to Phase 1: Prep.

It all started when my sister in law Amanda suggested that I check out this book: Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food by Jessica Seinfeld (yes, Jerry’s wife). Since I was already sold on the possibility of hiding veggies in my smoothies, I thought this book might hold some promise (though I’d be attempting to deceive myself, not kids). I picked it up at my local library (Homer Township Library ftw!) and decided to give it a test-drive.Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld

The basic premise of the book is that you puree a variety of vegetables and store them in 1/2 cup portions in little ziplock baggies, then sneak them into recipes as needed. Sounds good to me!