Not all carbs are created equal. There are healthy carbs, unhealthy carbs, and many gradations in between. In Sweet Potato Power: Paleo and Personalized, Design Strategist Ashley Tudor makes a convincing case for consuming sweet potatoes (and what are typically labeled yams in the U.S.) on a frequent, if not daily, basis. She explains about what makes them nutritionally superior to other starchy foods, how eating more of them can improve your physical and mental health and performance and meal time satisfaction, and how to add more of them to meals, snacks, and desserts.
According to Amazon, Ms. Tudor has worked with Fortune 500 companies and small start-ups, helping them tackle tough health-related issues. She’s created diet programs, designed strategies to help food companies fight obesity, conceived of new medical devices for primary care physicians, and developed online tools to help people use food as medicine. In recognition of her work, Mayor Gavin Newsom named Ms. Tudor one of San Francisco’s Top Innovators in Health in 2010. Victory Belt Publishing released Tudor’s book on April 13, 2012. So far, the book has received rave reviews in the blogosphere.
Sweet potatoes are a super smart carb and this new book will inspire you to eat more of them. I love sweet potatoes and have enthusiastically eaten them for more than 25 years. Still, I was eager to read the book, to peruse its contents, and to try some of the recipes.
What’s in it for you?
In part one of Sweet Potato Power you’ll learn about smart carbs and why eating enough of them can help you look, feel and perform at a higher level. You’ll also learn about the history of sweet potatoes and about how the food processing industry has changed the way we eat (for the worse).
In part two, you’ll learn about what the author considers the four pillars of health and how making better food choices supports health. For example, you’ll learn how to fight inflammation with food, become better at balancing activity and rest, and how to refuel wisely after exercise. (Did you know that you can make your own sports recovery gels using real, whole foods?)
In part three, you’ll discover tests, tools and tricks to help you test, track, and fine tune your carb-o-meter, lose weight, discover the diet rules that work best for your body, uncover hidden inflammation and how to moderate it, monitor your stress level, and optimize your physical and mental performance.
In part four, you’ll discover new ways to prepare and enjoy sweet potatoes. Recipes, which range from breakfast and main dishes to sides and snacks, and from desserts to performance enhancers that fit the paleo and primal blueprint, are all free of grains, gluten, beans, legumes, corn, soy, and refined sugar. Most are dairy free as well. Where dairy is called for you can easily make substitutions, such as replacing butter with avocado or coconut oil. Even if you don’t follow a diet that excludes these foods, you’ll find plenty of great reasons and ways to enjoy one of, if not the most, nutritious starchy food on the planet. If you’ve never eaten creamy white (actually beige) sweet potatoes or Japanese purple sweet potatoes, you are in for a treat.
Sweet Potato Power contains beautiful, professional-looking food pictures, easy reference charts, tables, and lists to accompany the well organized text. You can read it cover to cover or skip around, take the self tests to determine the best range of carbohydrate for your body and activity level, and search the book via the index or table of contents and check out the references. Sweet potatoes deserve a place at your table throughout the year and this book will inspire you to make that resolution a reality.
In the recipe department, I found myself intrigued with many of the recipes:
Turkey Burger Cookies
Sweet Potato Linguine with Sage & Brown Butter Sauce
Chocolate Sweet Potato Truffles
Sweet Potato Ice Pops
Sweet Potato Frittata
Salad with Roasted Chicken, Sweet Potato & Shallots
Spicy Beef w/Pepper & Sweet Potato served over Cauliflower Rice
Sweet Potato Vegetable Latkes
Sweet Potato Mash Three Ways
I plan to try these recipes over the next few weeks.
The Chocolate Sweet Potato Truffles, made from a mixture of Medjool dates, chopped walnuts, and mashed sweet potato, reminded me of the Dark Chocolate Dipped Date Nut Truffles I’ve made for more than a decade (see my award-winning book, The Garden of Eating: A Produce-Dominated Diet & Cookbook or The Ice Dream Cookbook). I made one batch of Sweet Potato Truffles according to the recipe except that I replaced raw cacao with unsweetened cocoa powder and added cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla.
For the second batch, I omitted the cacao (and cocoa powder) and dipped the sweet potato-date-walnut balls in unsweetened bakers chocolate, then rolled them in either unsweetened flaked coconut or cacao/cocoa nibs, and chilled them until the chocolate set up. Both batches came out great.
The people I shared the truffles with liked them enough to request the recipe (see below). I plan to try the recipe with a smaller amount of dates and larger amount of sweet potatoes the next time I make them.
The Sweet Potato Ice Popsicles look amazing. Before I can make them, I need to clear space in my over-full freezer or buy a second (second-hand) refrigerator-freezer, something I’ve had on my wish-list for many moons.
The first batch of Turkey Burger Cookies, a caramelized gooey burger that tastes a bit cookie like despite being a main dish, tasted good but didn’t look good enough for a photo. The mashed sweet potatoes made the burger brown on the outside before the inside was cooked through. As a result, the patties ended up very dark. Still, my friend, Laura, and I enjoyed them immensely and agreed that we wanted to make them again. I cooked another patty today (at a lower temperature). It still crumbled a bit but it tasted so good, I didn’t care. I will share more pictures with you as I make more recipes from this book.
If you cycle, run long distances, or do other sports that require mid-race refueling, forget the highly processed, packaged workout recovery drinks and sports gels sold in stores. You’ll find healthier, sweet potato-based versions of these concoctions in Sweet Potato Power.
Chocolate Sweet Potato Truffles
Prep: 30 minutes Yield: Makes 24 small truffles (I got 32 from my batches)
Life at times calls for a little bite of something special. Chocolate Sweet Potato Truffles are made with nature’s goodness. Rich and decadent, they hit the spot when the sweet tooth calls. Freeze to enjoy one at a time or share with friends.
Chef Rachel’s notes: I usually bake sweet potatoes and yams two or three at a time in my convection toaster oven, making them ready to heat and eat at meals or use in other recipes. Like other cooked foods, they are best used within three days of cooking*. You may substitute other varieties of sweet potatoes, such as red garnet or jewel yams, beauregard sweet potatoes, or creamy “white” (actually beige) sweet potatoes, if you cannot find the purple ones listed below*.
1/3 cup Okinawa sweet potato (purple) puree (see notes above for other varieties*)
15 medjool dates
1 1/2 cups raw walnuts (I used lightly toasted ones)
1/2 cup of raw cacao (I used unsweetened cocoa powder)
1/2 cup of raw, unsweetened, shredded coconut (optional)
Chef Rachel’s Variations