PCF Recipe Club: Sweet Potato Rounds (a holiday cracker substitute)
The holidays are upon us. Celebrations will likely look a little different this year – smaller gatherings, closer to home, and maybe even outside with a laptop or two at the table – but this is still a precious time reflect, give thanks and feast.
Despite the differences in 2020, the weirdest year on record, one thing is unlikely to change: unhealthy food will abound. Whether it’s the comfort that comes from making grandma’s triple cheese potatoes or the hard-to-resist cookies left in a socially-distanced way on your doorstep, there will be temptation. As emphasized in The Science of Living Well, Beyond Cancer, moderation is the name of the game. It’s important to look for ways to sneak a few healthy options before enjoying the pumpkin pie or whatever your traditional treat may be.
How can this month’s recipe – a sweet potato cracker substitute – help you do just that? Here are some Pros and Cons:
- Sweet potatoes are a superfood! If you were following along at home during PCF’s Eat It To Beat It challenge in September, you may have read about the benefits of these foods that give you more nutritional bang for your buck. One important nutrient in sweet potatoes is hefty dose of beta-carotene (which your body converts to vitamin A) – one medium baked sweet potato contains more than 4 times the amount you need in a day! (Different methods of cooking may change the amounts of available nutrients, but you’ll still get plenty of it). Vitamin A is an antioxidant and plays a role in vision health, the immune system, and normal cell growth and development. Other key phytonutrients are anthocyanins – powerful, naturally-occurring antioxidants that have been shown to have multiple cancer-fighting properties, including mopping up “free radical” molecules that can damage DNA. Choose organic if you can, wash well, and eat the skin for maximum fiber.
- Fiber! You probably know fiber as an important dietary component of keeping you “regular” but there’s more. Fiber is what makes certain foods a gut powerhouse. There are over 30 trillion microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, and viruses) living in and on your body, collectively known as the microbiome. Much research has focused on the bacteria in our gut and their role in health and disease (including cancer), and seems to indicate that the more fiber-rich foods you eat, the more “good” bacteria grow in your gut. The relationship between us and our microbiome is complex, but in essence: what we eat, our gut bacteria eat, and, they, in turn, produce more beneficial compounds if we feed them the right stuff. Sweet potatoes are already a good source of fiber; leave the peel on and get about 30% more.
- Sweet potatoes are not only healthy, they make a hearty appetizer delivery platform when sliced thin and roasted. Serving suggestions below, or try guacamole or smoked salmon with herbed cheese as a topping.
- Admittedly, sweet potatoes, even roasted to perfection, don’t provide the crunch of a cracker. Mix it up, try something new, and give yourself (and maybe a few carefully-vetted guests) a tasty option on the appetizer tray.
• 1 organic sweet potato, long and thin, about 2 inches in diameter
• 1 clove garlic, smashed
• 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• Salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
1. Scrub the sweet potato and leave the skin on for maximum nutrition.
2. Combine the olive oil and smashed garlic in a small bowl.
3. Slice sweet potato into 1/8 inch-thick rounds. Note: this requires patience and a sharp knife!
4. Lightly brush each side of the rounds with olive oil and place in a single layer on a cookie sheet.
5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Bake for 10 minutes on each side.
7. Cool on a wire rack and use as you would a cracker for serving hors d’oeuvres.
Serving suggestion: Add a dollop of pumpkin seed pesto with a roasted pumpkin seed on top.