Friday, October 14, 2011

Sweet Potato (Pie)

My mama's nick-name for me is Sweet Potato Pie.  Yes, we're Southerners.  Yes, I love sweet potatoes.  And yes, there's a difference between sweet potatoes and yams.  Yams are actually African tubers.  They're huge, and not very common in the US, although they can now be found in some specialty markets.  Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, are American and come in many varieties, colors, and textures.  Some are pale with light yellow flesh and similar to white baking potatoes.  The most common type, often incorrectly labeled "yam", has reddish skin and orange flesh, and that wonderful sweet flavor I love so much!

Regardless, sweet potatoes are fabulous first foods for babies, even if your baby, like mine, was early to start solids!  They're packed with Vitamin A, beta carotene, potassium, Vitamin E, and even folate (remember those prenatals you used to take?!).  In fact,
"The Nutrition Action Health Letter rated 58 vegetables by adding up the percentages of USRDA for six nutrients (Vitamins A and C, folate, iron, copper, and calcium), plus fiber. Sweet Potatoes topped the list with a whopping 582 points; its nearest competitor, a raw carrot came in at 434."
Oh yeah, and because they're loaded with fiber, sweet potatoes are great for bowel health and help with any digestive problems your baby might have encountered once he started eating solids!  So, how to do it?  Like normal spuds, sweet potatoes can be cooked in a variety of ways; however, to retain the most nutrients and enhance their natural sweetness and flavor, I baked sweet potatoes for Bunkey's first taste.
Step 1-3:  Poke potatoes all over with a knife.  Bake at
425 45-60 minutes or until wrinkly and tender when
pierced with a fork.  Remove from oven and let cool.
Slice length-wise to open.
Step 4:  Using a spoon, scrape flesh from skins into
food processor. 
Step 5:  Pulse until desired consistency, adding liquid
(water, formula, breast milk, etc) as necessary.   It took
me 8 oz water to get to this point.
Step 6:  Separate into individual portions for storage.

As you can see, I used my large Kitchen Aid food processor for the sweet potatoes rather than my Beaba. Since I was baking the potatoes, and since I was making a large batch, it was easier to work this way rather than doing multiple small batches in the Beaba. If I were steaming the potatoes, I probably would have done one at a time and used the Beaba so I could steam and puree in the same mixing bowl. These four sweet potatoes made 14 individual servings, which will last one week for my son, who will eat two servings each day (along with one serving of rice cereal).

Side note: These dishes (also made by Beaba) are fabulous for storage (for freezing or refrigerating). However, when it's time to eat, I will separate each serving into another dish to avoid contamination. Small ramekins or "snack sized" tupperwares are great for serving baby purees when first introducing solids.

Wanna make a bunch and serve the grown-ups the same thing Baby's eating? Try Bourbon-Pecan Smashed Sweet Potatoes, but instead of boiling, bake your sweet potatoes right along with your baby's!

So, was it worth it?  You betcha!  Sweet potatoes at my grocery are $0.59/pound.  These four beauties were about three pounds, or $1.77.  Since I got 14 servings, that's only $0.13 per serving, a huge savings compared to the $0.49 my store charges for the jarred stuff (one serving)!

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