Friday, March 23, 2012

Not Your Traditional Sweet Potato Casserole - Sweet Potatoes, Pineapple, Coconut, and Pecans

Someday I may learn how to take a "food" picture that looks as good as the food tastes.  It would be so nice if there was a way to take a picture on your kitchen counter or table that looks like one from a magazine.  Unfortunately, it doesn't because I took this casserole right out of the oven ready to put on the table for dinner.  Do you know how hard it is to set up a shot in a hurry while people are waiting to eat?  It is not easy at all, especially when it is in a casserole dish or some sort of pan and you are looking down at it.  This one kind of looks like a pizza, but it's not.  It is a truly amazing sweet potato casserole with pineapple and coconut.  To that mix, I also add pecans.  Why?  Because I like them of course.

I then tried to take a picture of it served on a plate and I won't tell you what it looked like, so I nixed that picture.  Sorry.  The words dog and food come to mind.  It just did not look appetizing in any way so use your imagination and think about how wonderful it tastes because it does.

Do you like sweet potatoes?    We sure do, especially baked with some butter and a little cinnamon on them.  Yummmm.  Or, there is the standard sweet potato casserole with the marshmallows on top and it is really, really delicious I am not denying.  It's the one every mom made for Christmas and Easter when we were growing up.  But, there are more casseroles and recipes out there, and this is one of my favorites.  It is out of my Saint Louis Days, Saint Louis Nights Cookbook and I have been making it for years.

Do you know the difference between a sweet potato and a yam?  You know how some people call them yams?  I looked it up (of course) and it seems that they are two totally different plants botanically.  Yams come from Africa - sweet potatoes are grown here.  There are two varieties of sweet potatoes and one remains hard when cooked and the other is soft.  The canned ones in the grocery that say yams are actually the soft variety of sweet potatoes.  The soft sweet potatoes were called yams by African slaves because it reminded them of the ones they knew and that is how we came to call them yams.  Now, does that clear that mystery up?  Did for me.

Sweet potatoes are very nutritious!  Here is some information I found on the web that might actually shock you.  I knew they were nutritious, but not THAT nutritious.  Check it out.

According to nutritionists at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the single most important dietary change for most people, including children, would be to replace fatty foods with foods rich in complex carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes.

CSPI ranked the sweet potato number one in nutrition of all vegetables. With a score of 184, the sweet potato outscored the next highest vegetable by more than 100 points. Points were given for content of dietary fiber, naturally occurring sugars and complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins A and C, iron and calcium. Points were deducted for fat content (especially saturated fat), sodium, cholesterol, added refined sugars and caffeine. The higher the score, the more nutritious the food.
    Sweet potato baked 184  next highest vegetable
    Potato, baked 83
Now, are you shocked?  It is the MOST nutritious vegetable that you can eat.  The next vegetable to it is a plain potato.  Who knew?  Now we all know and that is amazing because they are versatile, delicious and nutritious.  Yay for the sweet potato!  At least it's not something like Brussel's sprouts and only a select few of us seem to like those.  

We were having company for dinner last night and I decided to bake a ham.  There is something about spring that says it's time to eat ham.  Maybe it's because so many people serve ham for Easter, I really don't know.  So, I needed some sides and when I bake ham, I think sweet potatoes - they just seem to go with ham.  That meant pulling out one of my favorite recipes - sweet potato souffle with pineapple and coconut.  Don't panic, it's not like a traditional souffle.  Not really sure why it's called that, maybe because of the eggs in it.  I will tell you this, it is fantastic and easy.  Here is what you need.

8 medium sweet potatoes (or 2 32 oz cans, drained)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup  brown sugar
2 well beaten eggs
2 tsps baking powder
1 cup drained, crushed pineapple
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Wash sweet potatoes and bake, covered with foil at 400 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes until fork completely penetrates potato.

Cool, peel and put potatoes in a large mixing bowl.  Mash potatoes until smooth.  Stir in butter and both sugars.  Add the eggs and baking powder, pineapple, and salt.  Mix well.  Transfer ingredients into well-greased 2 quart casserole.  Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and cover with coconut and pecans.  Bake an additional 10 minutes.

(Because yesterday was volunteer day for us, I used canned yams drained.  They worked fine.  I do think fresh sweet potatoes are a little better, just depends on how much time you have.)

Ooooooooooooh my, this is good.  Our daughter said it's like eating dessert for dinner and it is.  Even her 2 year old gobbled it down.  Now that is an endorsement!  

This is an excellent side dish to serve when you are looking for something different and it makes a lot - great for a crowd.  Also, keep in mind just how nutritious sweet potatoes are (just don't tell your children).   Let's all eat more sweet potatoes.

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

Sweet potatoes are not just for holiday meals!  Enjoy them anytime.  They are good for you and taste good too.