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Linda WatsonCelebrate Earth Day by remembering how important it is to cook with organic food.

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Easiest Cinnamon Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Make a crowd-pleasing bowl of fluffy mashed sweet potatoes in 15 minutes with just 6 ingredients, mostly spices. This recipe calls for baking the sweet potatoes, which means no boiling and no peeling. They bake up so sweet that you won't need to add butter or sugar, saving money and calories. They are so good that my friends went back for seconds at a dinner party this week. I'm having the left-overs for dessert tonight as a sweet but healthy treat during my month without added sugar (except for birthday cake!).

Cinnamon Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Pecans

Active time: 15 minutes. Total time: 1 hour and 15 minutes (1 hour using convection). Serves 8. Vegan and gluten free. Costs just 76 cents per serving using organic ingredients.

4 large red-fleshed sweet potatoes, about 2 1/4 pounds
2 teaspoons sunflower oil or other neutral oil
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
1/8 teaspoon salt
16 pecan halves, about 1/3 cup (optional)

  1. Heat oven to 400°F (or 375°F for a convection oven). Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil or parchment paper for easy cleanup.
  2. Scrub sweet potatoes and poke several times with a fork all over so steam can escape through the holes as they bake. Put sweet potatoes on the cookie sheet with plenty of space between them. Drizzle with oil and rub to coat evenly so skin doesn't dry out.
  3. Bake for 1 hour (45 minutes using convection) until juices bubble out of the fork holes and you can easily push a fork into the center of each sweet potato. If you meet any resistance toward the centers, bake 5 to 10 minutes longer and test again. You now have baked sweet potatoes! Stop here if you want.
  4. Cut each potato in half. (A table knife will do the trick.) Scoop out potato flesh with a large spoon and put it into a medium bowl or serving container. Remove any dark or stringy bits that may be near the ends of potatoes. Sprinkle with cinnamon, cardamom, and salt, then mash with a potato masher or large fork. Stir to make sure spices reach the edges. Leave the surface rough or smooth it with a spoon and top with pecan halves in a spiral or other pattern.
  5. Serve hot. Refrigerate any extra for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Recipe tips

  • The best variety of sweet potatoes for baking is the Carolina Ruby. I get mine from Clay and Nancy Joyner of Redbud Farm. Other good and more commonly available varieties are Covington and Beauregard. Purple-fleshed Japanese sweet potatoes bake up too dry and dense for this recipe.
  • To double the recipe, use two cookie sheets. Don't crowd the sweet potatoes. Half-way through the baking time, switch the top and bottom sheets so the top one becomes the bottom one. If you can, use the convection option for more even cooking.
  • If you are on a very tight budget, save the sweet potato skins for Stoup or chop and stir into chili. For this recipe, I usually just compost them.
  • This is an oil-free recipe because the oil is removed along with the skins.

Nutrition for one serving (1/8 recipe)

Analysis includes optional pecans but not oil because the oiled skins are not used.

Calories: 128

Protein 2 grams (4% daily value), total fat 3 grams (5%), cholesterol 0 grams, total carbohydrates 23 grams (8%), dietary fiber 3 grams (13%)

Calcium 24 mg (2%), iron 1 mg (4%), potassium 207 (6%), zinc 1 mg (3%), Vitamin C 21 (35%), Vitamin A 18451 IU (369%), Vitamin B6 0.2 mg (12%), Thiamin B1 0.1 (6%), Riboflavin B2 0.1 (8%), Folacin 15 mcg (4%)

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