I must admit I’ve had a bit of a struggle the last few days in trying to decide what recipe to feature this week on the blog. I initially wanted to feature one of the many traditional African recipes that I love – something so distinctly African, and infused with Western and Eastern influences – which is what this blog is about really…But given the importance of the orange-fleshed sweet potato in parts of Africa today, and the phenomenal role that this humble root vegetable is playing today and in the future in the lives of thousands of African children, I was inspired to share the love about the humble sweet potato, in a recipe so simple, so tasty and yet so reminiscent of a traditional comfort food.[/vc_column_text]
Additionally, I am always on the lookout for recipes that are family-friendly and by that, I mean recipes that will appeal to the senses of children who are fussy eaters, and this one ticks all the boxes in that department. There’s something about the natural sweetness of the potato, complemented by the warm, spicy aromatic flavour of the cinnamon that just works.
Like I alluded to earlier, there’s more than just sweetness to the sweet potato. From a nutritional perspective, this humble root packs a punch in terms of essential vitamins and minerals. Low in fat, and calories, and loaded with 28% more potassium than a banana. Sweet potatoes are also rich in free-radical neutralising vitamins, notably A and C, and essential minerals. In fact, it is the abundance of Vitamin A in this root, that is making the orange-fleshed sweet potato pivotal in the transformation of children’s’ lives in Africa. There are several varieties of sweet potato – orange-fleshed, yellow-fleshed, red-fleshed, white-fleshed.
The main difference between the orange-fleshed variety and the white-fleshed variety is the amount of beta-carotene in the potatoes. The orange-fleshed relatives are known to contain such high levels of beta-carotene (which lends itself to their orange colour), that a mere 100g of this potato provides more than 100% of one’s recommended daily allowance of Vitamin A. The white-fleshed sweet potatoes, prevalent in Africa, do not have such levels of beta-carotene, unfortunately.[/vc_column_text]
Beta-carotene is converted by our bodies into Vitamin A (retinol) and is required for the development of the immune system, proper functioning of the eyes and the general well-being. Recent figures released by the International Potato Center indicate that approximately 125 grams of a fresh sweet potato root from most orange-fleshed varieties contains enough beta-carotene to provide the daily provitamin A needs of a preschooler.
And on that subject, I’ve got to give two enthusiastic thumbs up to HarvestPlus for their efforts in using orange-fleshed sweet potato to combat malnutrition and poverty in Uganda, and Mozambique.
Back home in Nigeria, the most common way of preparing a sweet potato is either by boiling or roasting over an open fire – my Nan’s favourite mode of preparation, and served with a simple dip of Palm oil seasoned with salt and cayenne pepper.
Following on from that theme, this recipe is remarkably simple. Enjoyed on its own as a snack or paired with grilled chicken breast and peas as I have done, and you are on to a winner – with the kids too!
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