No. 8 – Sweet potato challenge

When I announced over dinner one evening that I was planning a blog post about sweet potatoes, I was met with 4 unimpressed faces. My other half’s reaction was, ‘not more bloody sweet potatoes’. My eldest son raised one eyebrow and declared, ‘boring!’. The middle one said, ‘can I watch Paw Patrol now?’, and the baby was wondering why I’d stopped trying to shovel peas and spinach down him whilst he turned his head as far away from the spoon as humanly possible. ‘Tis true, we do eat a lot of sweet potatoes in our house. The kids were weaned on them, and they’ve featured on our dinner menu rotation of family meals probably twice a week in one guise or another ever since. Perhaps it is time to shake things up a bit? I couldn’t let my eldest get away with the ‘boring’ comment, and, not being one to shy away from a challenge, particularly one set by an 8 year old, I promptly set about writing this highly entertaining and non-boring post!

Yes, sweet potato toast is a thing!

I told him that he was to be my sous chef when testing recipes for this blog post – that’ll teach him. At bedtime he’d obviously been giving this some thought because he said, ‘does that mean we can try making sweet potato toast then?’ Yes, sweet potato toast is a thing! On Instagram at least anyway. I follow lots of chefs and food bloggers and my feed is full of pictures of sweet potato toast. That and avocados. On sweet potato toast. More of that later.

We are slap bang in the middle of sweet potato season now, as they are in abundance from October to March, so it’s a great time to try lots of new recipes with them. Some of our regular family dinners which include sweet potato are my curry, a delicious risotto which uses quinoa instead of rice (from www.honestlyhealthyfood.com), and a cracking fish pie, stuffed full of salmon,  prawns and green vegetables and topped with sweet potato mash, a’la Jamie Oliver. Seriously, if you only ever try one recipe recommendation from my blog, ever, then make the risotto. It’s life changingly good! We have it every week without fail and I never get bored of it. Comfort food at its absolute best. To. Die. For.

Comfort food at its best. To. Die. For.

Thinking about it, maybe my earlier assertion that we have sweet potato twice a week was a little short? But with so many delicious family favourites now being declared ‘boring’, how can I inspire my kids and you guys to fall in love with the sweet potato again?

My obsession with sweet potato is partly down to the fact that they are so tasty and versatile an ingredient, but also because they are so blummin healthy! An excellent source of fibre and the vitamins A, C and B6, their orange flesh means they are rich in beta carotene, great for our eyes. They are also a slow release carbohydrate meaning they sustain us for longer than their white potato cousins, making them an ideal ingredient to use in our everyday cooking.

Sweet potato toast then? Let’s do this! The basic idea is to slice raw sweet potato lengthways, into slices about ¼” thick and pop in to the toaster or under a grill, then to top with whatever you’d normally put on toast; nut butter, avocado, tuna, egg, bacon etc. Sounds amazing, right? Well, we tried it and I don’t know if my toaster is rubbish or what, but toasting the slices in there wasn’t working for me, so I stuck them under a hot grill. Then there was a knock at the front door and my brother and nephew had arrived, so the toast burned! Mum fail.

Attempt 2 was much more successful. A few turns of the slices under the grill and we were ready for toppings. We went with almond butter and banana slices, hummus and smashed avocado. The kids weren’t sure about the sweet option, but I’d eat almond butter slathered on anything (and I mean anything), so I polished that one off in one mouthful. We all loved the hummus and avocado topped slices with both boys asking if we could make then again tomorrow. The eldest suggested we make one with dippy egg and ketchup on, a new take on a veggie breakfast if you will. Now you’re talking kid!! 1v0 to me in the sweet potato battle I think. Give it a try and let me know what creative toppings you come up with!

Most of the sweet potato dishes we eat at home are spiced, be it with peppery paprika, gingery bitter turmeric or hot chilli, but I wondered whether I could make sweet potato work with the Asian flavours of coconut milk, lime and tamari. A quick fridge sweep one Friday morning produced a couple of aubergines and some spinach on the wilt, and as usual there were chickpeas aplenty in the cupboard – let’s get to work!

…a sandy Koh Samui beach and a sunlounger under a palm tree

The resulting stew was warm and comforting, sweet from the potatoes, which melded into the coconut milk to thicken and enrich the creamy sauce, with a salty tang from the tamari. The aubergines were meaty and earthy and the chickpeas soft, providing a real substance to the dish. The chilli and lime kick transport you to a sandy Koh Samui beach and a sunlounger under a palm tree. It’s that tasty, seriously! The kids demolished this too, after the usual suspicion about ‘those brown things’. I confirmed that aubergines are, in fact, purple and not brown, and this seemed to make them acceptable to eat after all. I hope you and yours enjoy it as much as we do – this is now a firm family favourite on our weekly menu rotation. *whenever I can find aubergines in Tesco, thanks to this supply problem after the bad crop in Europe this year #firstworldproblems

Sweet potato, aubergine and spinach stew, serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 red onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 2 large aubergines
  • 250g roasted sweet potato chunks
  • 600ml reduced fat coconut milk
  • 400g chickpeas
  • 100g spinach
  • Tablespoon of tamari
  • Zest and juice of a lime
  • Red chilli
  • Wholegrain rice or quinoa to serve

Method

  1. Chop the red onion and garlic and add to a large saucepan with a tablespoon of olive oil. Cook gently over a medium heat for 4 or 5 minutes until the onion is translucent, then add the ginger and cook for another minute.
  2. Chop the aubergines in half and then into half circle discs, about 1/4” thick and add to the onion mixture in the pan along with the already roasted sweet potato chunks.
  3. Add in the coconut milk and stir well before adding the chickpeas. Bring the mixture up to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 mins until the sauce is thick and delicious.
  4. Add in the spinach leaves and tamari and cook for a few minutes until the spinach has wilted.
  5. Grate in the lime zest and squeeze in the juice, and you are ready to serve on top of rice or quinoa.
  6.  Sprinkle liberally with freshly chopped chilli and dive in!

So, a new dinner favourite, and a tasty snack option given the thumbs up from a doubting 8 year old, and no grumbles from the old man either. Could I make it a hat trick by using sweet potato at breakfast time too? We are a porridge family in our house. Every single morning without fail from September to July. I chill out a bit in the summer holidays and let the kids gorge themselves on Kelloggs mini cereals.

I’d seen a few recipes for sweet potato ‘breakfast bowls’, but they all looked a bit mushy and baby food like to me, so I wondered whether adding oats would improve the texture and also make a more filling and sustaining brekkie for my always hungry boys. Since the eldest has started swimming with a squad his appetite has gone through the roof, along with my grocery bill!

I came up with this sweet potato porridge combo, which after a few tweaks I think is pretty damn good. It’s filling and nourishing, and you can send the kids off to school having already had two servings of vegetables (plus any fruit and seeds you chuck on the top), therefore you are an awesome parent, no questions asked! A few minutes preparation the night before, putting a sweet potato into the oven to bake, and grating up some carrot, then 5 minutes of stirring in the morning and an orangey bowl of goodness is ready to be devoured.

…an orangey bowl of goodness is ready to be devoured

Stupendous sweet potato porridge, serves 2 (and a bit for the baby!)

Ingredients

  • The flesh from a baked sweet potato, mashed (about 90g)
  • Grated carrot (about 40g)
  • 70g oats (could use gluten free)
  • 400ml of milk or almond milk, or a mix of milk and water depending on your taste
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Teaspoon of coconut oil

Method

  1. Add all of the ingredients to a pan and mix well to combine. Cook over a medium to high heat until the porridge is thickened and smelling delicious, takes about 5 minutes.
  2. Just before serving, stir through the coconut oil, then it’s ready for toppings!

The kids chose mango, blueberries and toasted almonds the first time we tried this – great combination. We are going to try adding grated apple to the mix next time, as apple and cinnamon are a match made in heaven. Other toppings that would work well are raisins, shredded coconut, seeds or a big spoonful of your favourite nut butter.

Heck, why not just put the lot on there!

Whaddya think about sweet potato now then kid? “Still boring Mum, but can we have that porridge again for breakfast tomorrow please?” the ultimate back handed compliment!

Next on my ‘to try’ list involving glorious sweet potatoes are:

Sweet potato brownies – https://deliciouslyella.com/new-and-improved-sweet-potato-brownies/ – these look decadent as brownies should, but made that little bit healthier with the sweet potato in there! Reminds me of my kale brownies

Mexican style fishcakes – http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/fish-recipes/mexican-style-fish-cakes/ – these look amazing and I love how different they are from the standard fish cake with the use of sardines and polenta.

Loaded sweet potatoes – http://karalydon.com/recipes/main-course/vegan-loaded-sweet-potato/#_a5y_p=2963136 – just to mix up the usual baked beans and cheese, how about black beans and an avocado dressing? Sold!

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3 thoughts on “No. 8 – Sweet potato challenge

Add yours

  1. Another brilliant blog post! Engaging and interesting, full of ideas and helpful suggestions. I must give that porridge recipe a try!

    Like

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