Unless you have a staff to insulate you from the world; someone to push a cart around the market, and someone to open doors for you so you don’t have to touch anything while you recline on your divan, sipping Oolong tea, and read a book on your Kindle; getting a cold or the flu this time of year is almost guaranteed. But I’m guessing my staff (and divan) is like yours: nonexistent.
It’s Day Eight of a cold I haven’t been able to shake. But admittedly things could be worse: I was able to stay home and do nothing but nap for a few days last week, a luxury I haven’t always had. It wasn’t that many years ago, I’d be dragging my body into work, feeling like roadkill, and not looking much better.
One thing I’ve been reminded of with this cold is what foods make me feel good, and which strip energy away from me. Hot soups loaded with beans, kale, onions, and tomatoes circulated warm energy through my body, making me feel like I was going to live, and more importantly, wanted to. Anything with sugar brought back the sore throat, coughing, and congestion with a vengeance. It’s not like I baked a cake and sat down to eat the whole thing. But one evening I thought I was getting better and had a glass of wine with dinner. Big mistake. Ditto for the tiny, minuscule dessert I shared with my husband. I woke the next day just wanting to die. All my symptoms were back with a bonus of laryngitis, and really, that dessert wasn’t even that great. Seriously, If I’m going to get sick from something, it should be fantastic.
With this in mind, I began to research foods that are good for us in cold and flu season, with a focus on foods that wouldn’t need much prepping (the staff issue, you know).Turns out anything rich in beta-carotene like carrots and sweet potatoes (and other orange fruits and vegetables) skip to the head of the class. When we eat these foods, our bodies convert this antioxidant into Vitamin A, which is essential for maintaining a strong immune system. Even better, Vitamin A specifically targets areas of our bodies that go haywire when we catch a cold by keeping our mucous membranes that line our nose and throat—one of the body’s first lines of defense—healthy and functioning properly.
I pushed carrots to later in the week once I read that sweet potatoes are so nutrient dense, that The Center for Science in the Public Interest listed them as the #1 most nutritious vegetable. And as a bonus, they are categorized as a low glucose carbohydrate (for a refresher on glucose and carbohydrates, see my last post). In fact these guys are getting so popular, they even have a Facebook Page, (who knew?), with over 12,000 friends, and loads of ideas of ways for them to be used in healthy dishes.
Onto this great recipe. First, I want to mention that I adapted it from one I saw in this month’s Healing Foods Cookbook put out by the folks at Vegetarian Times. They’re spiced (but not spicy hot) sweet potato ‘fries’ with the skin left on for extra fiber, so you don’t need to do much more than wash and cut them into thick matchsticks. Toss in a very small amount of olive oil, cinnamon, cardamom, salt and potato flour and bake for 30 minutes. That’s it – that’s really the whole recipe, except for the dip which is two ingredients that get stirred together. Don’t have any potato flour? Skip it altogether or add wheat flour instead for a nice little crust to the fries, but the potato flour is gluten-free. Serve these fries with the maple mustard dip I threw together, or enjoy them a cappella. Either way is delicious.
If you’re still thinking about appetizers for a Superbowl party (go ‘Niners!), this could be a great addition to the table!
A Few Cooking Notes:
Serve warm for the best flavor.
These ‘fries’ can be made earlier in the day and rewarmed just before the party begins, but they’re best fresh from the oven.
Spiced Sweet Potato ‘Fries’ with Maple Mustard Dip
(Adapted from Healing Foods Cookbook, Winter 2013)
Serves 2 – but easily expanded for a crowd
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Spiced Sweet Potato ‘Fries’
- 1 large sweet potato
- 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon potato flour
Maple Mustard Dip
- 2 tablespoons dijon country mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup (Grade B)
Spiced Sweet Potato ‘Fries’
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Scrub the skin of the sweet potato, and slice into matchsticks roughly 1/2 inch wide, leaving the skin of the potato intact. You should have around four to five cups of sweet potato matchsticks. Place them in a bowl with the olive oil and toss to lightly coat.
Combine the remaining ingredients for the Spiced Sweet Potato ‘Fries’ in a small bowl and sprinkle over the sweet potato. Toss to coat.
Spread the sweet potato pieces in a single layer on the lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes; flip the ‘fries’ and bake for another 15 minutes.
Maple Mustard Dip
Combine the two ingredients and serve with the Spiced Sweet Potato ‘Fries’.