Food For Thought: ‘Tis the Season for Sweet Potatoes

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At Thanksgiving, many will serve up a dish of sweet potatoes for their dinner. And I encourage you all to shop your farmer’s market for the freshest sweet potatoes out there. They are in peak season and taste their best!

This vegetable is an excellent source of beta-carotene, and a very good source of vitamin C, both these nutrients have anti-inflammatory properties and can be helpful in reducing symptoms associated with arthritis.

Some recent animal studies showed that sweet potatoes helped stabilize blood sugar levels, thanks to the beta-carotene. So this is an excellent food for diabetics.

Sweet potatoes are one of the oldest vegetables known to man. They have been traced back to prehistoric times. That’s a pretty good track record. Did you know that sweet potatoes have fewer calories and more fiber than white potatoes? Bonus!

I’m sharing my favorite sweet potato casserole dish that I have used year after year. It’s been around so long, I don’t recall where I got it! But I have made a slight change to it over the years using Xylitol instead of sugar. Xylitol rates only a 7 on the Glycemic Index making this dish diabetic safe. If you prefer to use sugar, opt for the more nutrient dense version Coconut Palm Sugar. It’s high in potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron and is a natural source of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and vitamin C. It also has a glycemic rating of 35, which means it is slowly absorbed in the blood stream. Palm Sugar is safe for people with diabetes, as its energy is slowly released. Click here for the best source for Organic Coconut Palm Sugar and Xylitol. It makes an excellent replacement for brown sugar in any recipe.

Sweet Potato Casserole

3 lbs. Sweet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 Tbs melted butter
2/3 cup fat free half and half.
1/3 cup Xylitol or Coconut Palm Sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
¼ cup dried coconut flakes (optional)
¼ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place the sweet potatoes in a large pot with water to cover. Bring to a boil and boil for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain the potatoes.

While the potatoes are cooking, combine the butter, half-and-half, Xylitol or Palm Sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and allspice in a small bowl.

Spoon the potatoes into an 8” X 8” baking dish coated with olive oil. Pour the half-and-half mixture evenly over the potatoes and mash slightly leaving the potatoes somewhat lumpy. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and top with the coconut and walnuts. Return to the oven for 5 minutes until coconut browns.

Makes 10 servings.

About Karen Roth

Hi. My name is Karen Roth, and I’m a Holistic Nutritionist. Okay, I know what you’re thinking… quick, hide the food; the snack police is here! No need to panic. I describe myself as a “practical” nutritionist, one who doesn’t go to extremes one way or the other and understands that life is challenging enough without having to torture yourself by cutting out many of the things you enjoy. Most of us have limited time to shop for food and to cook healthier meals. And a one-size-fits-all approach does not work when it comes to what and how we all eat. Trust me, I get it.

In my early years out of college when I was bartending, my eating and drinking habits were anything but healthy. But, then you grow up and start thinking about the bigger picture and listening more to what your body is telling you. My pre-nutritionist days were on the corporate treadmill where stress and snacking at the desk was part of my daily routine. Never enough hours in the day and proper eating was always at the bottom of my list.

It wasn’t until I broke my jaw in a freak accident that my food life really changed. When you’re wired shut for two months and denied the food you need for your very existence, you begin to look at the world a little differently. When I healed myself, primarily by creating my own foods I could sip through a straw, I decided to pursue something that was always of interest to me… nutrition. Pulling the plug on the corporate treadmill, I went back to school for three years to get my Masters Degree in Holistic Nutrition. I then opened a practice in Valencia, California, and I’m pleased to say that over the years I have helped so many people improve the quality of their lives by helping them make simple changes in their diets and lifestyle.

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be time-consuming or tasteless, and it is my intention to bring you practical tips each week on how to fit in nutrition one bite at a time. In addition to being practical, I’m also positive so you don’t have to worry that I am going to be Debby Downer and tell you that everything you put in your mouth is going to kill you. Instead, I will offer you easy to implement, simple strategies to help you improve your health. I’ll be introducing new foods (that taste good – because I don’t eat anything that tastes like sawdust or is unappetizing) and new habits that are realistic. I hope you’ll join me as a regular reader and together we’ll build the healthier you with FOOD FOR THOUGHT.

(Karen Roth, MS, NC is a graduate of Hawthorn University’s Master of Science in Holistic Nutrition training program. She helps her clients to take control of their health with foods choices that best support their specific health condition and specific metabolic type and believes that every ill health condition can benefit and possibly improve from a solid foundation of healthy foods choices. Visit her website at