Shredded sweet potatoes and apple

Are you confused about the difference between a sweet potato and a yam?  Yep, so is my local supermarket.  In all fairness, I had to do a little research to get to the bottom of it, because I wasn’t sure myself.  The names “sweet potato,” which is not at all related to a regular potato, and “yam” are used interchangeably in the US, but they both generally refer to sweet potatoes, no matter the color.  Even the dark ones called yams are technically sweet potatoes.  True yams are native to Africa and are a staple in tropical and subtropical countries.  I have never actually seen one in our country, but here’s what you might find in your market if you live in the States:

  • Brown or red-skinned (often called called yams) —  these have a soft orange flesh and sweet flavor.  The varieties you will likely see are Garnet, Jewel, and Christmas Beauregard.  Garnets are my favorites and what I used in these photos.
  • Beige-skinned — have a pale yellow flesh.  Varieties include Nancy Hall and Juicy Yellow.
  • Purple skinned — I see these at my farmer’s market.  They have a white flesh and the farmer calls them Japanese sweet potatoes.  I don’t find the flesh to be quite as moist as the others mentioned above.
No matter what you call them, sweet potatoes are delicious and completely underrated.  It baffles me that so many people look to sweet potatoes only at Thanksgiving.  We eat them much more often in our house than regular potatoes and they are just as versatile.  They are also way more nutritious — you probably don’t need me to tell you that.  When you look at that deep orange flesh, you immediately think Beta-carotene, right?  They are loaded with so many vitamins, minerals and fiber, but it’s the antioxidant profile that sweet potatoes are so rich in.
I could eat a plain roasted sweet potato any day of the week for breakfast, lunch or dinner and I make them that way as an easy side dish quite often.  The down side of roasting whole sweet potatoes is that they take a good 50 minutes to cook.  We don’t always have that kind of time.  Here comes “Plan B Sweet Potatoes.”  Is this starting to sound like my “Plan B Salmon” from last week?  I actually shouldn’t call this Plan B, because this is my kids’ favorite sweet potato recipe and the ONLY way my husband enjoys them (Mr. Picky had to come from somewhere.)  The sweet potatoes take on the flavor of apple without getting too sweet.  I cook them long enough that they’re just tender with a little bite to them.  Leaving the peel on would give you more fiber and nutrients, but my kids prefer the skin off so they don’t get random bites of peel.  Last night we had this dish with some steamed whitefish and a green salad, but I think it’s even better suited to chicken, turkey or pork.  Have you located the shredding disc of your food processor?  I live for that thing.  If you have it, this will be on the dinner table in 15 minutes tops.
Speaking of turkey, I’m starting the Thanksgiving countdown this Thursday, which is four weeks from the big day.  We have lots to do to start preparing and getting organized, so tune in and I’ll get you through this with no stress.  It might even be fun!

Shredded Sweet Potatoes and Apples
Serves: 6
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, such as Garnet or Jewel, peeled (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 apple, cut into fourths and cored (I love using a tart variety, such as Granny Smith)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, unrefined coconut oil or unrefined extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper
  • ½ cup water or apple juice
  • 1-2 Tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup (use less if you use juice)
  1. Shred the sweet potatoes and apple in a food processor fitted with the grater attachment.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet (if you don’t have a large one, do this in two batches. I used a 12-inch.) Add the shredded sweet potatoes and apple and season with sea salt (I use about ½ teaspoon) and black pepper to taste. Saute, stirring occasionally so that the mixture doesn’t stick, about 5 minutes.
  3. Once the sweet potatoes don’t look so raw anymore, stir in the water/juice and maple syrup and bring to a simmer. Cook another 5 minutes or until sweet potatoes achieve desired tenderness. Taste for seasoning.


Vegan chocolate chip oatmeal cookies recipe

A funny thing happens when people start cooking healthful food for family and friends.  They feel the need to announce that fact to everyone before serving it.  “Ok, guys.  Wait until you try this muffin!  It’s made with flaxseeds and almond meal and it has no sugar!  It’s unbelievable!”  Of course everyone else is thinking it’s probably unbelievably bad and unbelievably tasteless.   Or students will come to my class and go home very motivated (a good thing) to overhaul the pantry, the refrigerator and the family diet.  And even though I urge them not to, they feel compelled to sit the family down and tell them how “things are going to change around here!  There will be no more sugar!  Or processed snacks!  Suzy, spit out that gum.  Don’t you know aspartame is the number one food-related complaint to the FDA?”  Unfortunately, despite our well-meaning intentions, this strategy rarely elicits a positive response.

On the other hand, I love being able to share recipes that are delicious, easy, and just so happen to be good for you.  Take these chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, for example.  Using a base of walnuts, maple syrup and a touch of coconut oil in place of butter and eggs, these are just darn tasty and not-so-shabby, nutritionally-speaking.

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and if your school or office allows treats to be brought in, why not make a batch of these?  Like many cookie recipes, you can make the dough several days in advance and keep it covered in the refrigerator.  Take it out when you’re ready to bake and scoop it onto your cookie sheets.  You can even freeze the cookies unbaked.  Arrange them in a single layer on the baking sheet and place the pan in the freezer.  Once the cookies are frozen solid, transfer them to an airtight container and keep them frozen until you’re ready to bake.  Then just place them on a prepared baking sheet directly from the freezer and add another minute or two to the baking time.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies Recipe

Yes, I know it is so very exciting that they are full of fiber and contain no refined sugar.  No animal products either, if that’s important to you.  You can even make them gluten-free by using gluten-free oats.  But no need to go around saying, “OMG!  Try these cookies!  They’re gluten-free and they’re VEEE-GAN!”  Unless your motivation is to discourage any takers and to keep them all for yourself. Hmmmmm……

4.8 from 16 reviews
Vegan Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Serves: makes 30 2½-inch cookies
  • 1 ½ cups oat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups raw walnuts
  • 3 Tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 1 cup 100% pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 12 ounces or 1 ½ cups chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. *If you need to make oat flour, place 1 ¾ cups rolled oats in a food processor and process until powdery.
  3. Place oat flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a mixing bowl and whisk together.
  4. Place walnuts in a food processor and blend into a fine meal. Add oil, maple syrup and vanilla and process until mixture has the consistency of natural nut butter.
  5. Stir walnut mixture into flour mixture. Fold in 2 cups rolled oats and chocolate chips.
  6. Use a 1 ¾ -inch ice cream scooper to form dough into balls, and place on baking sheets. You can fit 12 on a sheet. Flatten cookies slightly with a damp hand. Bake 13-15 minutes or until cookies begin to brown and tops look dry.
  7. Cool a few minutes and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.