By MELISSA D’ARABIAN , Associated Press
The kitchen is my happy place, which is a good thing, because I spend a lot of time in it. It seems I’m always either developing recipes, or cooking them for a camera. And then there’s the not-so-small matter of cooking for my husband and four daughters every day. Truly, I love it.
But today I’m sharing with you what I make when I’m alone; cooking for one. When I’m by myself, I like something easy to make and comforting, without being junky. I turn to one of my favorite ingredients that falls lower on my husband’s list: sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes are full of vitamins, especially A and C, and minerals, have filling fiber and even a couple of grams of protein per medium 95-calorie spud. Before you panic about all the sugars in the sweet potato — it’s right there in the title — relax a little, because that full potato has about 7 grams of sugar. And, I’m going to make both a dinner and a dessert out of it, so personally I think those numbers make sense for sweet tooth it will satisfy.
Here’s the plan, which involves very little actual cooking: Poke a few holes with a fork into a sweet potato and bake it until tender (about 50 minutes at 350 F, or 8 minutes on high in a microwave since it’s just one). Once it’s cooked, slice in half, cut a slit down the center of each half, and top with just the tiniest bit of coconut oil or butter, which will melt beautifully into the hot potato flesh. (You can skip this part if you are watching fat intake, but even a smidge of coconut oil adds a ton of flavor.)
Sprinkle one side with cinnamon and top with fresh fruit and chopped nuts or seeds. Add a drizzle of maple syrup if you are feeling fancy. Sprinkle the other side with a little spice, like chipotle powder, cumin and hot paprika, or curry powder. And then top with drained canned beans, lentils, chopped leftover chicken or shrimp and something crunchy like pepitas or cashews. Place the two halves on the same plate, and there you have: a two-course meal on one plate. Perfect for a Netflix night alone. But you can easily scale the recipe up to include friends, should you decide to invite them.
SWEET POTATO TWO WAYS
Start to finish: 1 hour, including inactive baking time
1 medium orange sweet potato
1 teaspoon coconut oil, divided
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoons cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon chopped cashews
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1/2 cup baby spinach or other greens
Juice of 1/4 lime
Pinch of kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 medium banana, sliced
1 tablespoon sliced almonds
1 teaspoons maple syrup
Pinch kosher salt
Juice of 1/4 lime
Prick the potato skin 3-4 times with a fork and bake until tender, about 50 minutes at 350 F. (Or microwave until tender, about 8 minutes, turning over halfway through cooking.) Slice the sweet potato in half lengthwise, and cut a slit in each half. Divide the coconut oil between the two potatoes and allow to melt into the flesh. Sprinkle the savory potato with the curry and paprika, and top with beans, cashews, cilantro and salt. Place on top of the spinach and squeeze lime juice over the whole thing.
For the dessert potato: sprinkle with cinnamon and top with banana slices, almonds, maple syrup, salt and lime juice. Optional: if the oven is still hot, place the dessert potato in the oven for 5 minutes, just to caramelize the bananas a little. Place next to the savory potato and enjoy your two-course meal.
Nutrition information per serving of savory option: 305 calories; 88 calories from fat; 10 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 567 mg sodium; 52 g carbohydrate; 19 g fiber; 11 g sugar; 12 g protein.
Nutrition information per serving of sweet option: 183 calories; 28 calories from fat; 3 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 282 mg sodium; 37 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 15 g sugar; 4 g protein.