By J. Caroline Carroll (NC) – The nutritional value of sweet potatoes is undisputed, but did you know that their colour is not always orange? A sweet potato can have a purple skin too.
“Our Purple Sweeties won a coveted People’s Pick award last April at the Good Food Festival held in Toronto,” said Naren Singh, co-owner of produce importer and re-packer, Belle Eden. Singh and partner, Norris Sutton, introduced Purple Sweeties into Canada from Central America three years ago. “Our sweet potato won First Runner Up in the “favourite nutritional product” category and we’re pleased to report that demand for this crop has led to decidedly improved lifestyles for at least 80 farming families in Honduras.Perhaps this fact is not so surprising, considering there may be as many as 300 varieties of sweet potatoes grown worldwide. This year however, it’s the one with the purple peel and cream-coloured flesh that everyone is talking about.
“Sweet potatoes are ranked as the most nutritious vegetable when measuring the relative fibre, complex carbohydrate, protein, vitamins A&C, iron and calcium content,” Singh explained, pointing to the index compiled by the Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). “Sweet potatoes score at 184, spinach at 76, broccoli 52, and carrots 30.”
Purple Sweeties have a unique quality however. “When raw,” said Sutton, “you can see that the flesh is naturally moist, so if it is steamed, baked, boiled, barbecued, roasted or microwaved, in its peel, the unique nutty taste is superb even without salt and butter.
“Our challenge however, was to show Canadians just how delicious and versatile Purple Sweeties could be,” Sutton continued. “We could have marketed them in the ethnic food section, but most people don’t know what they are or how to cook them, so shoppers would have passed them by. Instead, we decided to come up with an appealing brand name like Purple Sweeties and put them in eye-catching, purple packaging, with cute character icons ‘Sweetie’ and ‘Petey Sweetie’. Most importantly, on each bundle we attached a special card on how to cook them, complete with recipes and interesting information on their nutritional value. Mainstream supermarkets tell us we are ahead of the curve, since for health reasons, most produce in the future will be pre-weighed and packaged in a similar fashion.”
A hit with finicky kids
The tasty “roasted chestnut” flavour of this complex carbohydrate, with its high nutritional value and low glycemic index – is prompting moms and meal makers to substitute Purple Sweeties for white potatoes in all winter soups and stews and other favourite recipes.
“At food fairs, we conduct ‘finicky kid’ tests too,” smiled Singh, “and without fail, our sweet potato is a hit with the little ones every time.”
Purple Sweeties are new to the produce section of supermarkets, but are visible due to their neat-and-tidy, purple-net packaging. Each little pre-weighed bundle of four or five potatoes comes complete with recipes, nutrition information and preparation tips. More information is also available online at perfectpotato.com.
Low Fat: Sweet Potato Muffins
- 1 1/2 cups bran cereal
- 1 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1 cup Purple Sweetie sweet potatoes, cooked
- 1/2 cup honey
- 3 tbsp. lemon juice
- 2 large oranges, Grated rind
- 3/4 cup raisins, soaked and well drained
- 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- In a large bowl, pour milk onto cereal and let stand. Mash enough sweet potato with lemon juice to measure 1 cup. Add potato to the milk and cereal, along with a beaten egg, honey, orange rind, and raisins. Mix well. In a smaller bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking powder and soda. Mix together with the wet ingredients & immediately divide into a greased muffin pan for 12.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 400 F for approximately 25 minutes. Let stand for 8 - 10 minutes before removing from pan.
Barbecued or Baked Sweet Potato
- 4 Purple Sweetie sweet potatoes
- olive oil
- butter, and/or grated cheddar cheese
- Brush the Purple Sweeties lightly with a little olive oil. Wrap individually in aluminum foil, if desired. Place the potatoes on top of the grill and cook for about 20-30 minutes (depending on the size of the potato and the heat of the grill) or until tender, turning from time to time.
- Partially unwrap, split open each potato and serve simply plain or with butter, salt, freshly ground black pepper and grated cheese. Purple Sweeties are easily microwaved too.
Sweet Potato Velvet Soup
- 3 cups chicken stock, or vegetable
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 2 medium Purple Sweetie sweet potatoes
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 tbsp. lemon, juice
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1 19oz/540ml can black beans, rinsed and drained
- sour cream
- parsley, chopped, as a garnish
- In a large pot, saute the onions in butter and oil. Add broth and lemon juice, bring to a boil. Peel sweet potatoes and cut chunks directly into the pot, one at a time to avoid discoloration. Reduce heat, simmer over medium/low heat for 20 minutes or until everything is tender. Add black beans and pepper, cook for an additional 2 minutes. Using a blender, puree the soup until smooth.
- Serve hot, with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle of parsley if desired.