Much of my daily culinary work leads me down the path of nutrition. It’s amazing the healing power of whole foods, herbs and spices.
“Food should not only satisfy our hunger, it should nourish our body, feed our soul and delight our senses” Karista~
This runs through my mind constantly. Especially when I’m writing recipes for a culinary class or customizing recipes for a client.
So now that the holiday season has officially begun (for me that’s the day after Halloween), I thought I’d list a few whole foods, herbs and spices that are nutritious but make holiday recipes delicious. Ha! Whoever thought one could combine “holiday foods” and “nutritious” in one sentence?
We see a lot of sweet potatoes this time of year. And I love it! Sweet potatoes seem to turn a recipe into something just a little more special, almost indulgent. They’re slightly sweet, dense, with a creamy texture that blends well with most spices, herbs and aromatics. Making this one of my favorite whole foods. Especially for the holidays.
Sweet Potato and Apple Bread Pudding
The sweet potato is a root vegetable, not a potato and not a tuber. There are many variety of sweet potatoes, all with slightly different texture, taste and sweetness. The darker the better. So when you’re choosing your sweet potatoes at the market choose the darkest in color.
They are extremely rich in carotenes (precursor of vitamin A). They are also an excellent source of vitamins C, B2, B6, E and biotin (B7). In the minerals department, they provide good amounts of manganese, folate (folic acid), copper and iron. Also rich in dietary fiber. Whoo Hoo!
Sweet potatoes are also excellent sources of plant proteins with very low calories (unless of course you add tons of sugar). Unlike other starchy root vegetables, it’s low in sugar and a good blood sugar regulator.
Sweet potatoes have also been found to contain a high amount of anti-oxidant, making it suitable for combating inflammatory problems like asthma, arthritis, gout, etc. This fibrous root is also suitable for diabetics as it’s a good blood sugar regulator, helping to stabilize and lower insulin resistance.
Who wouldn’t eat a sweet potato now?! Of course, simply roasted with a pat of butter or coconut oil and a good dose of cinnamon is one of the best ways to eat sweet potato. However, in this beautiful holiday season, jazzing up the sweet potato with a few additional ingredients is always a tasty idea.
I add sweet potato to soups, stews, roasted with chicken instead of potatoes, souffles, muffins, breads, cakes, in polenta and most recently I’ve added it to my breakfast bread pudding.
I seem to have gone long on my sweet potato post, so I’ll reserve the remaining holiday foods, spices and herbs for the next few posts. 🙂 But just to name a few (because I’m so excited about them): Fresh cranberries, cinnamon, onions, leeks, garlic, ginger, peppermint, horseradish, daikon radish, turnips, parsnips, oatmeal and wheat berries. I’ll make the effort to keep it short and sweet in the next post, while mentioning a few lovely compliments about each ingredient.
Meanwhile, for additional informative and interesting nutritional, health and well-being information, I love these two websites:
Wishing you all a most delicious, healthy and happy holiday season!
Loads of Love,
Sweet Potato and Apple Bread Pudding with Whipped Maple Butter
2 cups sweet potato puree (usually 3 large sweet potatoes)*
1 cup heavy cream*
1 cup whole milk*
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt
Dash of vanilla
½ cup real maple syrup or maple flavored Agave syrup
1 loaf Cinnamon Raisin Bread, 1 inch cubed (If using gluten free cinnamon raisin bread, let it sit for 15-30 minutes prior to baking)
2 apples, peeled and diced
4 Tablespoons butter (or coconut butter), divided
In a 9×13 baking dish or 8-10 individual ramekins, grease with 2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil.
*I roast my sweet potatoes by pre-heating the oven to 400F. Pierce the flesh of each sweet potato with a fork or knife. Set on a lined baking sheet. Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are soft. Once the sweet potato has cooled, peel the flesh (it comes off easily) and place the sweet potato in a blender or food processor to puree.
Blend together in a food processor, blender or vitamix the sweet potato puree, eggs, heavy cream, milk, cinnamon, a pinch of salt, dash of vanilla and maple syrup.
In a large bowl, toss the sweet potato mixture with the cubed cinnamon raisin bread and apples. Pour mixture into the baking dish, or individual ramekins. Dot with a little more butter or coconut oil and refrigerate overnight or at least 2 hours. If using gluten free cinnamon bread do not let it sit for longer than 30 minutes prior to baking.
Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Bake the 9×13 pan for about 40-45 minutes or until the center is set. Bake the ramekins for about 25-30 minutes or until the center is set.
Remove from the oven and let the bread pudding rest for about 10 minutes before serving. This bread pudding is also great refrigerated and re-heated the next day.
If desired, whip together 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly melted, with about ¼ cup of real maple syrup. Drizzle over the top of the bread pudding and serve.
You can also sprinkle a dusting of cinnamon or cocoa over the top and serve with a dollop of honey yogurt.
This makes a lovely holiday breakfast served with chicken or pork breakfast sausages and fresh sliced melon.
*I’ve also substituted the 1 cup heavy cream and 1 cup milk for 1 can of organic coconunt milk. It turned out great!
Nutrition information source: http://www.juicing-for-health.com/sweet-potato-health-benefits.html and http://www.care2.com/greenliving/9-reasons-to-love-sweet-potatoes.html