From the Land 11/30

sweet-potato-field,katori-city,japan

sweet potato field

announcements

The last day of Fall Share is December 14! Spring Share contracts will be available beginning next week, and will be due by December 31. Spring Share will begin January 4. You’ll have the option to sign up for block, semester, or both – but PLEASE fill out your contracts before you leave for winter break so we know how many members to expect!

food for thought

onions, sweet potatoes, cilantro, beets, beefsteak tomatoes, and radishes!

veg of the week
sweet potatoes: Ipomoea batatas

This tuberous root vegetable originated in Central America, where it has been cultivated for over 5000 years. It is not grown throughout the world in temperate and warm temperature zones where there is enough water to support its growth. China is the world’s top producer of sweet potatoes, but almost 60% of their product is used for animal feed.

Sweet potatoes are growing in popularity as they become known as a delicious and healthy alternative to the common potato. They are rich in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, beta carotene, and vitamins C and B6. When compared with other common vegetables in a 1992 study on these factors, as well as calcium, protein, and iron, sweet potatoes won by a long shot (when not counting the toppings).

Sweet potatoes are commonly eaten mashed or in a casserole (usually topped with brown sugar), as sweet potato french fries or baked potato, or – my personal favorite – in enchiladas topped with green chile sauce!

Carbohydrates

Though carbohydrates get a bad rap these days, it’s important to note that all carbs are not created equal. Carbohydrates are in fact essential to life, as they are one of the main macronutrients; all green plants produce carbohydrates with sunlight, carbon dioxide and water. With the help of an enzyme called amylase, carbohydrates are broken down into glucose (blood sugar), giving the eater the energy needed to make it through the day.  However, there are different kinds of carbohydrates, and some are better than others.

Carbohydrates are broken down into two categories: simple and complex.  Simple carbs are naturally found in fruits, some vegetables, milk and milk products. They are also found in processed and refined breads and pastas, as well as sweets. Complex carbs are found in starchy vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Getting the correct amount and source of carbohydrates can be tricky to decipher, but is essential to creating a healthy diet.  Eating too many carbohydrates (from refined sugars and processed grains) can lead to an increase in total calories, resulting in obesity or other diet-related health issues. But on the other end of the scale, not getting enough carbs for a sustained period of time can cause a lack of calories (or excessive intake of fats to make up for the calories) which can cause malnutrition. Some fad diets actually rely on this effect, as weight is lost when the body essentially goes into shock, and takes energy from wherever it can (in this case, excess fat).

Good “whole” carbohydrates make up a healthy diet: they contain all the proper vitamins, fiber and phytonutrients to digest the food while giving you energy to last through the day.  When considering grains, the less processed the better.  Milling and grinding take off the high-fiber bran and the vitamin-rich germ that helps the body break down the grain, leaving only the starchy endosperm: the simple carb. Refined foods such as white flour, white rice and white sugar lack any vitamins and essential nutrients, and are often called “empty calories” and can cause weight gain.  Most breads and pasta products have been processed in one way or another, eliminating most of the nutrients.

For healthy carbs, try whole grains, quinoa, bulgur, potatoes with the skin, fruits and vegetables, nuts, and whole grain breads and cereals.  Avoid refined sugar, white breads, candy, soda, corn syrup, or any food that has been so highly processed that it no longer resembles its original state.

For more info:

Carbohydrates overview

Harvard School of Public Health: Carbohydrates: Good Carbs Guide the Way

Mayo Clinic: Carbohydrates

Good Carbs.org

recipes

jacket sweet potatoes with radish greens and avocado buttermilk dressing

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1.5-2 lbs total weight)
  • Greens from 1 large bunch of radishes (or other spicy green of choice, or, heck, spinach or chard, if that’s what you have on hand), coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 an avocado
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 scallion
  • 1 stalk green garlic (or one garlic clove)
  • 1 tablespoon flax oil or olive oil (optional)
Scrub sweet potatoes and poke holes all over with a fork. Place in oven-proof dish and bake in 400-degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour, until tender. Once cooked, halve them lengthwise and allow them to cool for about 15 minutes.
While the sweet potatoes are cooking, make the dressing. Place the avocado and all remaining ingredients in blender and mix on high until smooth.
If you’d like to cook your greens a bit, do so while the sweet potatoes are cooling. Rinse the greens but don’t dry them. Using a skillet over medium heat, cook the greens for 1-2 minutes until just wilted (the water will steam them, but if you wanted to use a little oil, it wouldn’t hurt).
Once potatoes are cooled, top each half with a quarter of the radish greens, drizzle each with about 2 tablespoons of dressing, and finish with salt and pepper.

roasted sweets ‘n’ beets

  • 6 medium beets, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

In a bowl, toss the beets with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to coat. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Mix the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and sugar in a large resealable plastic bag. Place the sweet potatoes and onion in the bag. Seal bag, and shake to coat vegetables with the oil mixture.

Bake beets 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Mix sweet potato mixture with the beets on the baking sheet. Continue baking 45 minutes, stirring after 20 minutes, until all vegetables are tender.

red chile rubbed sweet potatoes with green onion vinaigrette

Green Onion Vinaigrette:

  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 3/4 cup freshly chopped green onion, green parts only, plus more for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
Spice-Rubbed Sweet Potatoes:
  • 6 tablespoons ancho chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 sweet potatoes, scrubbed, par-cooked and slice into 1-inch thick slices, skin left on
  • Canola oil
  • Freshly chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • Special equipment: 6-inch wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes

For the vinaigrette:

Blend the vinegar, water, onion, cilantro, honey, salt and pepper, to taste, in a blender until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the oil and blend until emulsified. Use as a dip for your sweet potatoes – yum!

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