Posts Tagged 'yam'

Sweet Potato Salad

Two weekends ago was our community clean up day. We resourceful residents rise early of a Saturday, don our sweats and gloves, pick up our big white trash bags, and get to work cleaning the roadsides up and down the hills of our semi-rural community. Usually, it’s a crisp sunny spring day, but this has been a soggy April and the day dawned with a steady cold drizzle. My neighbor, who is in her 70s, and I questioned our sanity as we shivered along picking up the beer cans and bottles that had been strewn along the mountainside road in front of our homes. Since our road overlooks the city, weekend nights see cars parked along the road, with people looking at the lights…or whatever else people do in parked cars on weekend nights, and tossing their beverage containers out their windows.  At any rate, by the time we dropped off our filled bags at the designated corner, we were both ready to go home and warm up before we picked up the salads we made for the post clean up potluck.

This salad originally appeared in the AARP magazine. I thought it would be a little different than ordinary potato salad, and have a bit more color.  The instructions said to bake the sweet potatoes for an hour, but in my opinion, that made them too mushy. The pieces did not maintain their shape well.  I think 45 minutes is more than enough. You could even microwave them until just soft.

I made a double recipe because I was taking it to a potluck. But the rain kept a lot of people away, so I had lots of leftovers. As an experiment, I reheated one serving as a sweet potato side dish. It worked very well, although the celery remained crisp, and that texture was a little different – but still good.

Sweet Potato Salad

4 small sweet potatoes
1/4 cup low fat mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon mustard (I used Dijon)
4 celery stalks, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 small red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
½ of a 20 ounce can of pineapple tidbits, drained
2 scallions, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans
Chopped fresh chives (optional)

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Wrap each sweet potato in foil and bake for 1 hour (see above for my cautions). Unwrap; let cool. Peel; cut into 3/4-inch chunks.

In a large bowl, mix mayonnaise and mustard. Add sweet potatoes, celery, red pepper, pineapple, and scallions; toss gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate about 1 hour (I actually chilled mine overnight, since I wanted to make it ahead of the clean up day.)

Fold in pecans and sprinkle with chives if using. Makes 8 servings at 5 grams of fat/serving.

NOTE: Anticipating a desire to take this to work for lunch, I removed 2 servings and put them in separate containers before I added the pecans. Without the pecans, the salad has less than 1 gram of fat/serving.

Packed up and ready to be taken to the potluck.


Moroccan Braised Veal Shanks

Some friends came to dinner the other night, and I needed to make something that met both their dietary habits and my desire not to have leftovers that have too much fat for me to eat. One of my principles is to only make food that I can eat – and that includes leftovers in the freezer for lunches and hasty dinners.  My friends don’t eat gluten and most starches, including potatoes and rice, and I, of course, focus on low fat eating.  I was beginning to feel like that nursery rhyme about “Jack Sprat could eat no fat, his wife could eat no lean.”

I started the meal with roasted cherry tomatoes over goat cheese and baby greens.

I am really enamored of these roasted cherry tomatoes.  I make them every couple of weeks and spoon them hot over chicken or fish, or most frequently cold on good bread or crackers spread with a Laughing Cow cheese wedge and topped with the tomatoes.

I really felt like making something Moroccan, but had to find a recipe that wasn’t heavy on fruit and honey, which are so typical of this North African cuisine. These braised veal shanks were perfect, and they even contain sweet potato, which is one of my friend’s favorite dishes (and one of the few starches she still eats.)  Instead of serving it over couscous, which would be its more usual presentation, I made a wild rice pilaf, which I will post later. Wild rice is actually a grass, and not in the same category as wheat and other grains.

This recipe, originally from Cooking Light, kind of puzzled me, because the serving size math seemed to be wrong. It called for 4 pounds of veal shanks. Even if there were a pound of bone in the veal shanks, that still leaves about 48 ounces of meat. But the recipe said it made six 3 ounce servings, which is mathematically impossible. That would only be 18 ounces of meat, total, and this made much more.  I used cross-cut veal shanks, which may have been a bit meatier, even after the fat was trimmed away, although many pieces had only a little meat.

The finished braised veal filled one of my largest pans.

I estimate that there were easily 12 servings – I’m going to be eating the leftovers forever – yum.

Moroccan Braised Veal Shanks

Spice rub:
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
4 (16-ounce) veal shanks (because I used cross-cut shanks, I just purchased 4 lbs., rather than 4 shanks.

Remaining ingredients:
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 cups chopped onion (I chopped the onion, celery, and carrot in the food processor)
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup diced carrot
2 Tablespoons chopped garlic cloves
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 Tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash or sweet potato (I used sweet potato)
4 carrots, cut into 1-inch-thick pieces (about 8 ounces)
1 14 ounce can drained canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
4 teaspoons (or more) chopped fresh mint (optional) for garnish

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare spice rub, combine first 6 ingredients in a small bowl. Trim fat from veal; rub surface of veal with spice rub. Set aside.

Heat oil in a (very) large Dutch oven or large heavy stockpot over medium-high heat. Add veal; cook 3 minutes on each side. Remove from pan. Add onion, celery, diced carrot, garlic, and ginger; cover, reduce heat, and cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in 1 teaspoon turmeric, paprika, and coriander. Add broth, wine, juice, and tomato paste, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Return veal to pan; bring to a boil. Cover and bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Turn shanks; add squash, carrot pieces, and chick peas. Cover and bake an additional 45 minutes or until veal shreds easily with a fork. Remove veal from pan, and remove meat from bones.  Return veal to pan  and stir into other ingredients.

Serve veal and vegetable mixture over couscous or other pilaf. Garnish with mint, if desired. Makes 12 servings at about 6 grams of fat/serving.

Veal with wild rice pilaf

Roasted Yams and Plantains

When I saw this recipe, I didn’t look very closely at it. Plantains, yams, what could be bad. I finally had three very ripe plantains – the only way I can get ripe plantains is by buying them when they are yellow and letting them turn black on the back of my kitchen counter. Then I looked more closely at the recipe, from Cooking Light, and realized that it was a pureed dish with dates and nuts sprinkled on top. It was sort of a Thanksgiving side dish, on the sweet side – but I was more interested in something more hearty – or maybe more chewy. So I fiddled around and came up with what is essentially a roasted vegetable dish that could still be used as a side dish. Plantains roast quite well so I may experiment with them some more in the future.

Roasted Yams and Plantains

Cooking Spray
2  pounds of sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 very ripe plantain peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut across in ½ inch slices
1/3  cup packed brown sugar
1/4  cup fat-free milk
1/4  cup non-fat sour cream
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 cup pitted dates, chopped
1/2 cup sliced almonds,

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray. Mix  sugar, milk, sour cream, and allspice in a medium bow; beat 2 minutes at the high speed of a mixer until smooth. Mix in dates. Set aside  Put yams and plantains in prepared baking pan. Spray lightly with cooking spray and toss.  Bake for one hour or until potatoes are tender. Remove from oven. Pour milk mix over  yams. Toss well. Sprinkle almonds evenly over top.  Bake for an additional 20 minutes. This makes 8 servings at about 3 grams of fat/serving.

yam platain bake

Variation: This was pretty sweet. You could probably use less sugar.

Sweet Potato Salad

I usually don’t think of sweet potatoes and salad in the same line of thought. Sweet potatoes (or yams) are a hot side dish, often served at holiday dinners.  Salads are cold.  Of course, this isn’t really true, think of potato salad.  I was looking for something dramatic to take to a potluck when I came upon this brightly colored salad.  It got some funny looks at first, but people liked it.  It’s also a good make ahead dish.

Sweet Potato Salad

1 ½ pounds sweet potatoes or yams, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into ¼ inch slices
½ pound green beans, trimmed and cut in half
3 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced diagonally
¼ cup rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 garlic cove, finely chopped
black pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped dry-roasted, unsalted peanuts

Steam sweet potatoes over boiling water in a steamer until they are tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer the sweet potatoes to a large bowl and set aside. Steam the beans until they are cooked but still crisp – about 4 minutes. (You can use the same steamer.) Refresh the beans under cold water so they keep their color and add to the sweet potatoes.  Add the sliced scallions.  Mix the dressing ingredients – rice vinegar through black pepper – in a small bowl.  Pour over sweet potato mixture and toss. Chill the vegetables for at least one hour.  I made this the night before I served it and it kept well. When ready to serve, toss again and sprinkle with the chopped peanuts.  This makes 8 servings with about 4 grams of fat/serving.


Yam and Pork Curry

I have a friend whose favorite food product is the yam, and her favorite food preparation style is curry. So naturally, when she came to visit a couple of days ago, a yam curry was in order.  Mind you, those big tubers that we get in the grocery store are not properly yams. Yam is the common name for some species in the genus Dioscorea. These are perennial herbaceous vines cultivated for the consumption of their starchy tubers in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania.  Those golden orange goodies called “yam” in most U.S. groceries are the sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas), typically one of the darker, orangey strains.

Botany aside, we’ll use the term yam here, because that is what most people know them as – and it is not likely you will go on a field trip looking for the true yam.  The original recipe for this came from Cooking Light. I made it according to the recipe, as pictured.  However, the original recipe called for 3 potatoes, with out accounting for the size of the tubers. Mine were really big, and they kind of overwhelmed the dish, even for someone who loves yams.  So I made a more precise measurement, and also recommend cutting them into smaller pieces so you can get a mouthful of pork and yam at the same time.  I served it over brown rice.

This is not heavily curry-spiced, like Indian curries.  It is somewhat more tomato-based, and to my mind, has a bit of a fresher flavor (although I love South Asian curries).

Yam and Pork Curry

1 3/4 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of all visible fat and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 large onion, chopped in medium dice
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 jalapeno peppers seeded and minced*
4 cups of yams, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 14 1/2 ounce can of reduced sodium reduced fat chicken broth
1 14 1/2 ounce can of diced tomatoes, undrained
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, toss pork with 1 teaspoon curry powder and salt.  Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large skillet that can be covered (I use my stir fry pan) over high heat. Add pork and cook, stirring often until brown on all side.  It takes about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and transfer to a plate.

Using the same pan, reduce heat to medium-low and add remaining t teaspoon oil to the pan. Add onion, garlic, and chili pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes.  Stir in remaining 2 teaspoons curry powder and cook for one minute more.

Add chicken broth, yams, and tomatoes and bring to a simmer.  Cover and cook until sweet potatoes are tender and sauce has thickened somewhat. This takes 20-30 minutes.  Add the pork you set aside, and cook until heated thoroughly, about 3 minutes.  Add black pepper to taste.  Makes 4 servings at about 5 grams of fat/serving.

*Ingredient note: During the recent scare about e-coli and jalapeno peppers, I bought a jar of dried jalapenos.  I used 1/2 teaspoon of this in the curry – which made it warm, but not hot. You could use more.  I actually like having the dried peppers, since I have a habit of buying them fresh and having them go bad before I get a chance to use them.  I’m not sure how they would work in a salad, but in a curry they’re fine.


I have lost 200 pounds. I did not do it through surgery – I don’t like knives and needles – or by joining a club, vigorous exercise, or rigorous dieting. I did it by gourmet cooking. To be precise, by cooking low fat, really delicious food. I love to cook as much as I love to eat. Food magazines are some of my favorite reading. I would feel deprived if I couldn’t have the sensuous experience of good food crossing my lips. This blog is about my perpetual feast, my passionate love of food, with recipes, photos, and occasional advice and principles that I have learned along the way.

More about me.

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