Thursday, May 24, 2012

Super Food of the Week

We've all heard of the trendy term "Superfood" being tossed around, haven't we? What exactly IS a superfood, and why should we care about it? After lots of poking & prodding through nutrition books & websites, I found that there is no universal definition for the term. However, all legit uses of the word superfood reference a particular food that offers health benefits above & beyond the obvious (feeding your belly). A superfood is a food that is typically low in calories, high in fiber, phytochemicals (a.k.a - antioxidants), vitamins & minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, and so on. Basically, its a food that's super good for your overall health. Over the past year, I've made it a priority to incorporate widely known superfoods into my daily diet. I was happily surprised to find that I had been unknowingly consuming a good amount of superfoods on my own. Now, I make a conscious effort to consume more of them, or even swap out some ordinary foods for their super counterparts. 

Week 1, Superfood 1: The Sweet Potato

I don't know about you, but I happen to LOVE sweet potatoes. The fact that they are ridiculously good for you in so many ways makes me love them even more!

Coming in at around 100 calories per serving (1Cup), sweet potatoes are high in fiber and loaded with essential vitamins & minerals such as:Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Potassium, Manganese, Iron, Calcium & Folate, just to name a few. In fact, you can get full day's worth of Vitamin A just from one serving! The Potassium in sweet potatoes aid in preventing heart disease & help to alleviate inflammation and muscle aches. There's also the whole antioxidant factor. Carotenoids, to be exact. Who cares, right? WRONG! Carotenoids are antioxidant compounds found in certain plants that prevent tissue damage & cell degeneration. This means they boost the immune system's response to infections, and deter healthy cells from morphing into cancer cells. Beta-carotene, the most important Carotenoid in Vitamin A, is known to protect the skin against ultraviolet damage and promote an even skintone. And don't forget to add a small amount of healthy fat to your sweet potatoes, as the combination makes it ideal for the body to absorb the highest amount of beta-carotene possible!

Sweet potatoes are easy to clean, easy to prepare and easy to eat. They are great baked, cut into wedges & roasted in the oven, or (one of my favorites) made into a healthy & satisfying mash. 

Sweet Potato Mash 
(yields 4 servings; 137 Calories per serving, 3.7 grams of fat per serving)  
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1tbs extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 4 cloves of roasted garlic (or 1/2tsp of garlic powder)
  • salt & pepper to taste
Wash, peel & cube sweet potatoes and place in steamer. Steam 7-10 min, or until potatoes are fork tender. Mash sweet potatoes with masher or large fork, depending on desired consistency. Add  EVOO, mashed roasted garlic cloves (or garlic powder), salt & pepper. Mix thoroughly & serve. 

Sweet & savory more your thing (think Thanksgiving candied sweet potatoes)?Instead of roasted garlic/garlic powder, substitute 1/4 tsp of cinnamon or nutmeg and 1tsp of brown sugar for a more Holiday-tasting dish (try it once & you'll TOTALLY get it!) 

No comments:

Post a Comment