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10/05/2011 05:25 EDT | Updated 12/05/2011 05:12 EST

Sweet Potato Side Dish: How To Cook The Perfect Yam (RECIPE)

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Sweet potatoes are nature's absolute perfect comfort food. They're naturally sweet and require very little prep to make them delicious. They also rank extremely high on my list of health-promoting foods. Here are the reasons why you should add them to your grocery list!

Nutritional Highlights

Antioxidants: The sweet potato has a unique protein, which, research shows, has one-third the antioxidant activity of glutathione. This is impressive since glutathione is one of the body's most important internally produced antioxidants. The presence of these proteins along with the potatoes high level of vitamin C and carotenes make them a superman-like food. Another interesting fact: The darker the sweet potato the higher the level of carotenes.

Vitamin Content: Sweet potatoes contain B2, B6, C, manganese, copper, biotin and pantothenic acid. These vitamins are important for energy metabolism, hair health, thyroid health and more.

Blood Sugar Balance: Sweet potatoes have been aptly nicknamed an anti-diabetic food because studies have shown they help stabilize blood sugar and improve the body's response to insulin. A good source of fibre, they also slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream.

Roasting the Perfect Sweet Potato

2 to 4 sweet potatoes, washed, peeled and cut into chunks (no need to peel if organic -- there are lots of minerals in the skin)

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Sea salt & black pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 350F. If you want to cook them faster, increase the heat to 375F. Put the cut up potatoes into a large ceramic baking dish (so they're not too crowded). Sprinkle with cinnamon. Make sure you have about 1/4-inch water in the dish to create a steaming effect and to prevent the potatoes from sticking to the pan. Cover with a glass lid and bake for 45 minutes or until fork tender.

Remove from oven and enjoy right away with a dollop of organic butter, sea salt and vinegar. Or you can make a delicious yogurt curry dip.

Joy McCarthy, Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Health Coach of Joyous Health, loves to inspire others to eat well and live well. Co-creator of Eat Well Feel Well a 6-week nutrition & yoga course in Toronto. Joy welcomes your questions or comments.

Please note: All of these recipes are created in her joyous kitchen with the healthiest ingredients. She's not a calorie counter or a professional chef -- She's a nutritionist who loves to cook and bake, and she's delighted to share her creations with you.

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