Eating seasonal foods: sweet potatoes

Research has shown that eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy body weight and being physically active can reduce a person’s risk of developing cancer. During cancer treatment, healthy eating can help improve your energy and immune system and provide you with the nutrients your body needs to thrive. Eating locally and seasonally is always an excellent choice. Some of the benefits of eating locally and seasonally include:

  • Locally grown foods may be more nutrient dense.
  • Seasonal foods may add a richer flavor to your taste profile.
  • Seasonal and locally grown foods can enhance food safety by decreasing chances of contamination from distribution and transportation.
  • Locally grown foods allow us to know that they are grown safely and most often without pesticides and insecticides, meanwhile supporting local farmers and the economy.

Kentucky is exceptional when it comes to advocating eating local and seasonal foods. Kentucky Proud is a motto and organization that encourages Kentuckians to eat safe and nutritious foods. The Kentucky Proud ebsite includes great tips and topics for eating healthier and more nutritious foods grown here in Kentucky.  Check out their resources that include a product availability chart for seasonal foods and shows some of the health benefits, such as nutrient and antioxidant content, of eating colorful foods.

Sweet potatoes are presently in season! They are a sweet and savory vegetable that provides a great source of beta-carotene, vitamin A and vitamin C. Both vitamin A and C are pertinent to immune health and have anti-inflammatory properties. Beta-carotene and anthocyanin, which is found in purple sweet potatoes, have been studied in keeping our cells healthy in relation to cancer prevention, including cancers of the colon, breast, stomach and lung. No one food works alone; sweet potatoes should be part of a variety of fruits and vegetables in a balanced diet.

Here is a tasty and filling recipe to try that highlights sweet potatoes:

Savory Sweet Potato Burritos

Yields eight burritos.

Ingredients:

  • 2 small onions, sliced thin
  • 3 medium peppers (variety), sliced thin
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into strips
  • 1 1/2 T oil
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 15 oz. can black beans
  • 8 oz. plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 lime
  • Chili powder, to taste
  • 8 whole wheat tortillas

Instructions:

  1. Place sweet potato strips into microwave safe bowl, add 1/4 cup water and cook for 8-10 minutes, until all pieces are soft.
  2. While sweet potato is cooking, stir fry onions and peppers in oil on the stove over medium high heat, until onions are soft.
  3. Layer burritos in the tortilla with yogurt, chili powder, sweet potato, onion, peppers and black beans. Squeeze 1/8 of lime over the contents and wrap.
  4. Eat and enjoy!

Recipe retrieved and modified from www.cancerdietitian.com/2013/09/sweet-potatoes-a-cancer-fighting-combo.html.

By guest blogger, Rachel Flanery, University of Kentucky Dietetics and Human Nutrition Student