Healthier (And Tastier) Potato Skins

With March Madness just around the corner, and game day snacks a must, it is important to have an option that tops the taste bracket but not the scale.  Rather than reach for the fried buffalo wings, mozzarella sticks, and bacon laden potato skins, try giving these twice baked sweet potatoes a “shot.”  Sweet potatoes, as is made apparent by their rich orange color, are packed full of beta carotene (the whole foods version of Vitamin-A).  Vitamin-A is typically touted for its ability to improve night vision, while simultaneously boosting the immune response (including against measles).  Top this with fiber rich black beans, and heart healthy guacamole (think omega-9 fats from avocados, lycopene from tomatoes, and anti-viral onions) and you’ve got yourself a game-day treat that can’t be beat!

Ingredients:

4 Large Sweet Potatoes

1 1/2 C. Black Beans, drained if using canned

1/2 C. Shredded Cheese, Mexican Blend

Guacamole:

1 1/2 Avocados

1-2 T. Lime Juice

1/4 C. diced Red Onion

1/4 C. chopped Cilantro

1 Medium Tomato, diced

1/2 to 1 Jalapeno, seeded & diced

Salt & Pepper, to taste

guac

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Prepare guacamole by mashing avocados with remaining ingredients; stir to incorporate.

 Bake sweet potatoes until fork tender; approximately 35 minutes.  Halve and remove pulp (reserve for later occasion).

Fill hollowed out sweet potato halves with beans, top with cheese, and place back into oven for 5 to 10 minutes until cheese is melted.

Top each “potato skin” with guacamole and a dollop of sour cream (optional).

ENJOY!!!

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Orange is the New Green (Smoothie)!

For those of you looking for a little variety, in your smoothie quest for health, try this sweet and delicious (yet nutritious) sweet potato smoothie.  Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin-A (hence the orange color), providing nearly 400% of your daily recommended amount.  Sweet potatoes also contain low levels of important minerals, including magnesium, potassium, iron, and manganese.  Potatoes, in general, also provide small amounts of protein and fiber (roughly 2 g. and 3 g. respectively).  Fiber is essential for blood vessel and intestinal health, and provides the body with general inflammation support.  Although sweet potatoes are high in carbohydrates, many of them are complex in nature.  Complex carbs typically breakdown slower in the body, causing a more controlled release of sugar and insulin (essentially eliminating blood sugar spikes).

As stated in my previous blog post, Drink Your Way to a Healthier New Year, one of the best, and perhaps easiest, life-style changes a person can make is to begin incorporating healthy, live foods into their daily routine.  When thinking of a food as “living” or “dead,” there are two important aspects to consider; will it nourish my body and will it expire in a reasonable time period.  Unless food is preserved in a historical manner ( e.g. fermenting or canning), it should be unable to “survive” in your pantry for years at a time.  This extended shelf life, in most processed foods, can be attributed to chemical additives and preservatives that often promote inflammation and toxic overload in our bodies.  While these processed foods can be found in most meals throughout the day, a main offender is often breakfast and/or snacks.

My proposal, to you, is that rather than reach for a granola bar, bagel, donut, or sugary strudel, make yourself an Orange SmoothieThis smoothie is quick and easy to make, provides tons of essential vitamins (including Vitamin-C), minerals (Magnesium and Potassium), and fiber (to help remove “Bad” Cholesterol and leave you feeling fuller longer).  Best of all… KIDS LOVE IT!!!

Orange Smoothie Recipe

Sweet Potato Smoothies

1  1/2  Cooked & Peeled Sweet Potatoes

1 Banana (Preferably Frozen)

1 Madjool Date (Pitted)

1 C. Almond Milk

1 C. Water

Dash of Cinnamon

A Few Ice Cubs

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until a smooth consistency is obtained.  Add additional liquid, as needed, if smoothie remains thick/unprocessed. Drink the smoothie within 20-30 minutes of blending to receive the most health benefits from your “living” food.

TIP:  It is always best to rinse the blender out immediately after use, to avoid stubborn stuck on pulp.