I think the best way to showcase my trial-and-error experiences with food is to write about my history, my attempt, and my success or failure upon trying it. First up: sweet potatoes.
My first memory of sweet potatoes is probably that of many Americans.
Sweet potato casserole: sweet potatoes usually cubed or mashed, mixed with syrup or sweetener of some kind, topped with marshmallows. Broiled to a golden brown, most children go ga-ga over this stuff every Thanksgiving.
In that respect, I was a weird child: I absolutely hated it. I would eat the marshmallows off of the top of my mom’s serving, but if even a speck of orange was on my marshmallows… so help me!!! it would ruin my meal. Yuck!
Fast forward a couple of decades: I was 23 and living in gorgeous California.
The town in which I lived was Fremont, and it was the home to the Bay Area’s largest farmer’s market. I had just started what would become an epic 35-pound weight-loss journey so during this time I would visit the farmer’s market every Saturday morning to get some fresh produce (and the occasional hand-formed loaf of sourdough or wedge of local cheese). Every time I’d visit, I’d go as far as to pick up and investigate things I’d never tried before: asparagus, pluots, and… sweet potatoes.
My arch nemesis for so long… it would taunt me from afar every Saturday as I made my rounds. One day I caved and purchased one.
I recall exactly what I did with it: I made sweet potato fries.
GO-TO SWEET POTATO FRIES
Makes roughly two large servings of fries.
- Two sweet potatoes, cleaned thoroughly, peeled, and cut into strips roughly 1cm thick.
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon of crushed red pepper flakes (more or less, depending on the level of spice you want)
- 2 teaspoons of paprika
- 2 teaspoons of onion powder
- Dash of sea salt
- A few dashes of garlic powder
Combine everything in a zip-loc bag or in a bowl with a lid. Shake and toss around until all of the wedges are evenly coated in toppings. Spread on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, making sure they are in just one layer. Sprinkle garlic powder on top and bake at 375 degrees F for 30-35 minutes, flipping fries after 20 minutes. You will know they are ready when the thinner ones are getting dark and the edges of the larger ones are mostly golden. Let cool for 5 minutes unless you want to burn your mouth!
Lo and behold, I loved them!!! After such a raging success, I now continue to love sweet potatoes as long as they are savory – not sweetened. I continue to dislike sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows, but give me a cubed sweet potato topped with spinach, black beans, salsa, and vegan “cheez” sauce and you have a happy, happy girl.