“You say witch like it’s a bad thing.” – Unknown
So far this Autumn, I’ve spent a lot of time writing about pumpkins and pumpkin spice. However, there are other Autumn favorites that are on my Autumn bucket list as well – such as sweet potatoes!
I was a late convert to sweet potatoes, because most of my life I’d only ever eaten them – well, very SWEET. Candied, or baked into sweet potato casseroles with maple syrup and honey and brown sugar and marshmallows, or sweet potato pie.
Then one day I had an idea – why not bake a sweet potato and eat it just like I would a baked Russet potato? With just butter and salt and pepper, no added sugars?
OH MY GOODNESS. Without all the added sugars and goop, I fell madly in love with sweet potatoes. And every Autumn since, I’ve enjoyed finding and creating more recipes for sweet-and-savory sweet potatoes.
Here’s why YOU should be adding sweet potatoes to your Autumn bucket list:
Sweet potatoes are incredibly nutritious, full of vitamin A, C, B6, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron. And despite the sweet taste, they are low glycemic and full of fiber – which means you get a sweet treat without a spike in blood sugar. (That is, as long as you don’t add brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, marshmallows, chocolate chips, etc.)
Sweet potatoes are inexpensive. Buy bagged small-to-medium ones (“personal size”) rather than the giant individual ones, or the “microwavable” ones wrapped in plastic.
Sweet potatoes needn’t be organic. While regular white potatoes are part of the “Dirty Dozen,” sweet potatoes are grown with far fewer pesticides and are usually considered safe to buy non-organic (especially if you don’t eat the skin).
Sweet potatoes are awesome for meal prep. On Sundays, I often bake a batch of sweet potatoes in the oven and cook a big pot of collards. Then I have easy lunches or ready-to-go sides for the week!
Baked sweet potatoes are super-easy to make. And while there are a lot of “recipes” out there for sweet potatoes, and dozens of complicated ways you can stuff them, there are also many no-brainer ideas – and I will share my favorites with you tomorrow.
Perfect Baked Sweet Potatoes
Scrub the sweet potatoes with a vegetable brush and then prick with a fork several times, front and back (and maybe sides, too, for good measure).
Put the potatoes in an oven or toaster oven, directly on the rack. (They will “bleed” some dark sugar drippings, but you can crumble that off with your fingers.) On the rack below, place a cookie pan or a sheet of aluminum foil underneath the potatoes. (The bottom of your oven is harder to clean than a rack; plus, if you have heating elements on the bottom of your oven, you don’t want sweet potato juice to be dripping on them.)
Set your oven at 425 …
And set the time for 40 minutes.
After 40 minutes, check your sweet potatoes. (Do this by squeezing the sides gently – use a potholder to protect your hands.) If they’re not soft, check on them again every 10 minutes until they are. Bigger sweet potatoes, obviously, will take much longer to cook. (One reason I recommend not buying the gigantic sized ones – also, personal-sized sweet potatoes are just much easier to meal plan prep).
After they are done, just turn off your oven and leave them in there until you are ready to take care of them. They will become a little sad and deflated looking (imagine the way you feel heading off for work on Monday mornings – that’s the way these potatoes will look).
When you get ready, simply make a vertical cut down the center and squeeze the sides. The inside should pull away from the skin, and from that point it’s easy to scoop out if you need the insides for mashed sweet potatoes or sweet potato soup – or if you just want to make some variety of baked sweet potato.
Above, I’m showing the simplest version of baked sweet potato – just butter, salt, and freshly ground pepper.
Tomorrow, I will share my favorite super-easy variations on this already super-easy nutritional powerhouse.