Sweet potatoes are one of my new favorite foods here in Beijing (the other being pomelos). They are super cheap and readily available, plus sweet potatoes are easy to prepare and very filling. Not to mention the health benefits. I’ve always loved my mom’s sweet potato casserole at Thanksgiving, but I know the recipe included butter, sugar, and eggs – 3 ingredients that pretty much cancel out the good stuff in the sweet potato itself. Last year I attended an amazing vegan workshop held through PCRM (Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine) that focused on how anyone can help prevent and cure cancer through a vegan diet. I came home with some vegan recipes that were so delicious and simple to create, I was in a state of wild and utter happiness. One of those recipes was Sweet Potato Pudding. 5 ingredients, 5 minutes to make, and devoured in about 1 minute!
Before I wow you with this genius recipe, let’s take a quick look at the great health benefits of sweet potatoes:
- They are a good source of vitamin C, which is necessary in warding off cold and flu viruses, instrumental in bone and tooth formation, digestion, and blood cell formation. It also accelerates wound healing and produces collagen, the substance that maintains skin’s youthful elasticity and helps us cope with stress. Vitamin C has been linked to fighting cancerous toxins as well.
- They contain vitamin D, which is crucial to the immune system and linked to our energy levels and moods. Vitamin D is essential for building healthy bones, heart, nerves, skin, and teeth, as well as supporting the thyroid gland.
- They contain iron, an essential mineral that is responsible for red and white blood cell production, resistance to stress, adequate energy levels, proper immune functioning, and other duties.
- Sweet potatoes are a good source of magnesium and potassium. Magnesium plays an important role in healthy artery, blood, bone, heart, muscle, and nerve function. It’s also known as the relaxation and anti-stress mineral. Potassium is an electrolyte that regulates heartbeat and nerve signals, and protects and controls the kidneys.
- Another perk is that the natural sugars in sweet potatoes are slowly released into the bloodstream, which creates a balanced and regular source of energy without the negative side effects associated with other types of sugar, such as weight gain and fatigue.
- Finally, sweet potatoes are high in beta carotene and other carotenoids, as indicated by their beautiful orange color. Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants that fight cancer, strengthen our eyesight, and boost our immunity.
I’m impressed not only with the health benefits of sweet potatoes, but the flavor and versatility of them. Take your pick – grilled, baked, roasted, sauteed, pureed, steamed, in soups, stews, salads, or even sweet potato fries. It’s important to note something that I learned from the instructor at my PCRM vegan workshop; be careful not to cook sweet potatoes at ultra high temperatures because it diminishes the nutrients. (this is true of many other vegetables as well). My instructor suggested roasting sweet potatoes in the oven at about 200-250 degrees. It takes longer, but the nutrients remain intact and the natural sugars have more time to simmer and come out, making for an even sweeter sweet potato!