Quick question: does anyone else sometimes not try something simply because they have a preconceived notion that said new thing is going to be difficult or fail? Yeah, guilty as charged over here. As a perfectionist and self-proclaimed “realist” (which is different from a “pessimist,” guys, don’t get it twisted), I can tend to find comfort in well, remaining in my comfort zone.
However, thanks to a wonderful recommendation from my bestie, Steph (hey girl hey!), I was listening to researcher, professor, and author Brene Brown’s new podcast, Unlocking Us, and she happened to be discussing “FFTs”—or “fucking first times.” I mean if that doesn’t nail it, I don’t know what does. In a nutshell, Brene breaks down how putting ourselves in new and different situations—and working through all the discomfort and essentially, vulnerability, of that experience—is the foundation of internal growth. I hate to admit it, but I know she’s right.
So, a few weeks back, I was scrolling through Pinterest for some meal inspo for the week (yup, if you haven’t noticed by now, this is a regular pastime for me!) and was literally inundated with recipes for stuffed sweet potatoes. While they looked good, I didn’t even consider making them for dinner because—and this is an actual quote from inside my head—”I really don’t feel like dealing with roasting the potatoes.” But here’s the tea sis: I had never even tried roasting sweet potatoes before, meaning my “reason” was really just an excuse. I already had it built up in my head that the process would be difficult or wouldn’t work—ultimately, that it would just turn into something I would have to “deal” with.
Regardless of my apprehension, I couldn’t stop thinking about those darn sweet potatoes: (a) they just looked friggen yummy and (b) I knew it would be a sure-fire vegetarian meal win with Hubs, which are not so easy to come by I’ll have you know. So before long, I was Googling the best way to roast sweet potatoes…because you know ya girl is going to employ the easiest method out there…and do you know what I found? It’s actually really, freaking, simple. The prime method in my opinion comes from the blog Evolving Table. I’ll link the original post here in case you’re looking for a more in-depth explanation, but it basically just involves poking some holes in the sweet potatoes with a fork, wrapping them in tin foil (taking care to ensure the foil is wrapped around twice), and baking on a roasting pan for ~45 minutes at 400 degrees. Check out the pics below for a visual!
My dudes, I am not kidding when I say these were so well roasted, that the skin literally just fell off them—hence the phrasing “loaded” and not “stuffed.” Loaded or stuffed feels very po-ta-to versus po-tat-o (pun totally intended) if you ask me, so I was happy with the end result, even if they were lacking in the picture-worthy presentation department. What does matter is the fact that I tried something new and, much to my surprise, it was a success. And ya know what, I think I did grow from the experience a little bit, even if it’s just that I no longer automatically assume everything I touch in the kitchen is going to turn to shit. Look, I’m still not the most confident gal behind the counter, but I’m definitely starting to relax and enjoy the process a whole lot more, a fact that I know can be solely attributed to working through my own culinary FFTs.
The other great thing about roasting sweet potatoes—you know, other than the transformative personal journey it provides—is that by the time the taters are finished cooking, you’ve had plenty of time to put together your “stuffing,” which means all you have to do when they come out of the oven is load ’em up and serve!
While I put a Mexican spin on these (which is honestly just a basic bean/corn/veggie/spice mix—yummy, but not groundbreaking), as with most of the recipes I like to share, this one is totally customizable, so you can really take it any way you want. Use a mixture of BBQ sauce, red onion, and shredded cabbage for some classic American cookout goodness. Or saute your mushrooms and onions in some sesame oil and coconut aminos, alongside fresh grated ginger and minced garlic for an Asian-inspired dish. Upon peering into the fridge while I whipped this up, I realized I had some kale on its last leg. Never one to waste food—or the opportunity to get in a leafy green—I ended up tossing a handful or two in my final product at the last minute. My original recipe didn’t call for it…but YOLO, right? I highly encourage you to adopt the same attitude.
What I love so much about today’s blog post is that even if you don’t necessarily make these sweet potatoes as I did, you’ve walked away from it with a newfound knowledge on how you can easily prepare a super versatile, super healthy kitchen staple. Roasted sweet potatoes are a nutritious source of complex carbs that can be used in so many different ways, from soups and stews to baked goods and casseroles. I don’t know why but something tells me I will be employing this method to make batches upon batches of sweet potato muffins come summer to enjoy with my coffee on the patio—and I ain’t mad about it!
Thanks for reading everybody! I’m planning to drop a fun, little post this weekend in order to get it out to ya in time to plan for Cinco de Mayo (wink wink), so be sure to check back then. Stay safe out there, my friends, I’m thinking of you all!
Loaded Sweet Potatoes
Notes: This yields 4 servings. I ended up just loading up all 4 potatoes and then storing the 2 leftover potatoes in their own separate containers in the fridge. We ate them 2 nights later and they were fine, though I probably wouldn’t keep them more than 2–3 days. As I mentioned earlier, feel free to get creative with your toppings. I added some curly kale, a sprinkle of feta cheese, and a dollop of nonfat plain Greek yogurt. Matt went for some shredded cheddar cheese and salsa. You do you.
- 4 sweet potatoes (roughly the same size to ensure even cooking)
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can whole-kernal corn, drained and rinsed
- 1/4 cup quinoa, dry
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 2 cups baby bella mushrooms, diced
- 1 yellow onion, minced
- 1–2 tsps garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp cumin
- 3 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Any extra ingredients for serving/topping (leafy greens, cheese, salsa, hot sauce, avocado, Greek yogurt, etc.)
Step 1: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse each sweet potato, then use a fork to poke holes all along one side. Wrap each potato in foil, taking care to ensure the foil piece is big enough to wrap around the potato twice. Fold the ends in, place on a roasting pan, and bake for ~45 minutes. Note: larger sweet potatoes may take closer to an hour, while smaller ones may only take 40 minutes or so. Just use your best judgment…you can always throw them back in if necessary.
Step 2: While the sweet potatoes are roasting, make your filling. Cook the 1/4 cup of quinoa according to the directions. Combine the quinoa, black beans, corn, and diced tomatoes in a large bowl and set aside.
Step 3: Next, make your seasoning. Combine the cumin, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and set aside.
Step 4: Finally, heat the olive oil over a deep skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic and saute for 2–3 minutes. Next add the diced mushrooms and saute for another minute or so. Then, add the seasoning mix from the small bowl and saute until fragrant (again, just about another minute). Finally, add in the quinoa/corn/bean/tomato mixture and stir to combine and heat everything through.
Step 5: Once the sweet potatoes are done roasting, pull them from the oven and remove them from the foil packets. Slice them down the center, load them up with the filling, add any additional toppings as desired, and serve!