I'm the editor of Smart, a magazine for women in southcentral Pennsylvania. I said "I do" to my wonderful husband in 2002. We have two adorable children who have taught me much about life and love. With the birth of my second child, I bid farewell to my dreams of having a clean house, folded laundry and family dinners on weeknights.

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Sweet Potatoes: Dig into this healthy food

sweetpotato

Give sweet potatoes a chance.

By BETH BENCE REINKE for Smart

If Thanksgiving is the only time you eat sweet potatoes, you’re missing out on a “super food” full of powerful antioxidants, said Shrewsbury Township resident Jack Osman, a retired health professor and sweet potato grower.

“Just one four-ounce serving of sweet potatoes will give you a whole day’s supply of beta-carotene.” And that’s not all. Sweet potatoes are a good source of other antioxidants, such as vitamins E and C, as well as iron and trace minerals, he said.

Each year in September, Osman hosts the PA Sweet Potato Festival to raise awareness about these nutritious orange gems and make freshly-dug sweet potatoes available to the community.

To work them into your family meals, try substituting sweet potatoes anywhere you would normally use white potatoes in cooking, Osman said. “My goal as a nutrition educator is to get people to eat sweet potato products twice a week, not just twice a year.”

Eating sweet potatoes year-round is the norm for Corinne Huenke of Stewartstown, who has whipped up countless sweet potato dishes for her husband and 11 children over the years. Whether growing her own or ­getting them from the PA Sweet Potato Festival, she likes to keep whole sweet potatoes on hand because they store well for many months.

“Sweet potatoes are a gold mine that a lot of people haven’t discovered,” Huenke said. “There are so many ways you can use them.” She believes moms can get the good nutrition of sweet potatoes into their kids by trying creative recipes with eye and taste appeal.

Yams or sweet potatoes?

Sweet potatoes and yams are the same thing, right? Nope. “Sweet potatoes and yams are two totally different foods,” Osman said.

The canned “yams” you buy at the grocery store are actually sweet potatoes, he said.

Why the confusion? Years ago, people started calling sweet potatoes “yams,” and the misnomer stuck. Osman explained that yams are large, underground tubers that grow in the tropics.

Yams are low in nutrition, very dry and not sweet. In contrast, sweet potatoes are classified as storage roots. Sweet potatoes are moist, sweet, packed with nutrition and come in a variety of colors, such as orange, yellow, white and even purple.

Commercially packaged sweet potato products, such as chips, pancake mix and frozen fries, are gaining ­popularity. Osman predicts restaurants might get in on the action soon. “I expect to see sweet potato fries at fast food restaurants in the near future,” he said.

Sweet potato mash

Sneak the good nutrition of sweet potatoes into your ­family’s meals by adding sweet potato mash to baked goods, pancakes, stews or ­casseroles. To make the mash, scrub five to six sweet potatoes, pierce with a fork and wrap in ­aluminum foil. Bake at 325 degrees for about 90 minutes (a little longer for larger ­potatoes.) Cool until easily handled, then slice sweet potatoes in half and scoop out flesh into a large bowl. Mash sweet potatoes and freeze in 1/2-cup or 1-cup servings. When you want to use sweet potatoes, thaw and blend into a recipe.


— Jack Osman, Shrewsbury Township

George Washington Carver Sandwich

2 slices whole grain bread

2 tablespoons peanut butter

2 tablespoons marshmallow fluff

4 slices cooked sweet potato

1 teaspoon brown sugar

cinnamon to taste

Spread marshmallow fluff on one slice of bread. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon evenly over marshmallow fluff. Arrange sweet potato slices on top of marshmallow. Spread peanut butter on other slice of bread and place on top of sweet potatoes to make sandwich.

— Jack Osman, Shrewsbury Township

Sweet Potato Muffins

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 1/4 cups sweet potato mash

1 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup milk

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup chopped pecans

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and mix well. Blend in sweet potatoes. Sift flour, baking powder and spices. Stir into wet ingredients alternately with milk. Do not overmix. Fold in raisins and pecans. Fill greased muffin cups about half full. Bake 25 minutes at 400 degrees. Makes about 18 muffins. Batter can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.


— Corinne Huenke, Stewartstown

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

4 medium sweet potatoes, unpeeled

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Wash and scrub potatoes. Cut in half lengthwise then slice into wedges the size of steak fries. Toss potato wedges with olive oil and arrange in one layer on baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 375 degrees about 30 minutes or until fork tender.

— Corinne Huenke, Stewartstown

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