Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Happy New Year!!  I sure hope you had a wonderful holiday season and came back to the reality of 2015 feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world.  I hope you did, because I am not quite there, but I am close.  I seriously over-indulged the past few months and am paying for it now.  A few extra pounds and not quite as on point in my fitness level and routine.  But I am working on it!  Which is why I thought my first recipe of the New Year should focus on the delightful Sweet Potato. Not only is this vegetable delicious, it is incredibly good for you with high levels of Vitamins A, B5 and B6 and they are naturally fat free and low in sodium.  They are very sweet but have a low-glycemic index which means they release sugar more slowly which helps keep levels of blood sugar steady.  Because of these benefits and more, they are a perfect food for people trying to eat a low carb or paleo lifestyle.  Often times, I just bake these until their sides are caramelized and eat them plain, no butter or salt.  But on occasion, I will stuff them with whatever veggies and meat I have available.  Since they are so sweet, I like to stuff them with savory vegetables like kale, mushrooms and broccoli for crunch.  The sweet corn ties the dish together and honestly, meat is not even necessary.  However, for this particular recipe, I like to use healthy ground turkey and season it with smokey cumin.  This is a fantastic, filling and extremely healthy dinner that is super easy to make and can be personalized to whatever is in your refrigerator and your preferences. 

Here is what you need:

4 large Sweet Potatoes
1-1 1/2 lbs of Ground Turkey (optional or could use ground beef)
2-3 cups of Kale
1-1 1/2 cups of Broccoli 
1 cup sliced Mushrooms
1/2 cup frozen Corn
1 medium Onion -chopped
3 cloves of Garlic - minced
2 tbsp of Olive Oil
1 tsp of Salt
1 tsp of Black Pepper
1/2 tbsp of Cumin
1/8 tsp of Red Pepper Flakes (optional)

Optional Toppings:
Feta Cheese

This is what you do:
Heat oven to 425 degrees and wash and poke sweet potatoes all over with a fork.  Place in oven and cook for at least an hour.  Heat a pan over medium high heat and add 2 tbsp of olive oil.  Add the turkey and cook until no longer pink and then add the salt, pepper, cumin, red pepper flakes and onions, mushrooms and broccoli.  Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and kale. Cook for another 5 minutes or so and add the corn.  Heat through and taste to adjust seasoning as needed.  Remove sweet potatoes and fill them up with the mixture.  Top with any toppings you like and enjoy!
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1-1 1/2 hours
Serves: 4

First thing to do is preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Wash and dry your sweet potatoes and then poke holes all over them with a fork.  This lets the steam escape so they cook evenly.  Then, place them on a piece of foil either directly on the oven rack or on a baking sheet.
One of these things is not like the others.
These sweet potatoes will release some serious caramelized sugar and you do not want that on your oven or baking sheet.  Foil is a must.

Once they have been cooking away for awhile, get your filling ready.  Heat 2 tbsps of olive oil in a pan over medium high heat and add the turkey.  Break it up with a wooden spoon and cook until no longer pink.  While this is cooking chop your onion and mince the garlic.

Next, add 1 tsp each of salt and pepper, 1/2 tbsp of cumin and 1/8 tsp of red pepper flakes.  Then add the onion, mushrooms and broccoli.  Cook for 5-7 minutes, until onions are translucent and the broccoli is becoming tender-crisp.

Now, add the kale and garlic and continue to cook for another 3-5 minutes.

Once, this has cooked through and the kale has wilted, add the frozen corn and heat through.  You don't want to over cook the veggies so they turn to mush, but cook until the level of tenderness you like is reached.  Then, taste and add more salt or pepper, if desired.
The corn is an important component because it really ties the sweetness of the sweet potato and the savoriness of the vegetables together.  And it adds beautiful color and crunch. 

Once your sweet potatoes have been in at least an hour, remove from oven and split open to make room for the filling.  In my opinion, it is almost impossible to overcook a sweet potato.  The more it cooks, the more it caramelizes and the more delicious it becomes.  
I mean, have you ever seen an orange so bright and beautiful?

Now, you are ready to fill it up!  

We are big eaters around here and do not mess around when it comes to filling up a sweet potato.  This dish helped me start the New Year on a healthier foot.  You can't eat this and not feel like you just did your body a favor.  I hope you enjoy it and personalize it to how ever you like!

Happy New Year!!  xoxo