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Spiced Grilled Sweet Potatoes One sweet potato contains more potassium than a banana. Why is potassium so important? An article in Women’s Health states, “Potassium is a crucial nutrient, playing key roles in muscle strength, nerve function and heart health. And if you don’t get enough—4,700 mg a day—it could lead to a deficiency, complete with fatigue, muscle cramps, heart palpitations and dizzy spells.” These grilled sweet potatoes with their smokey and spicy flavors make the perfect accompaniment to other grilled vegetables and grilled meats. This recipe is a trifecta: easy to prepare, delicious to eat, and good for your body.

Spiced Grilled Sweet Potatoes
Recipe from Whole Foods

INGREDIENTS
4 medium sweet potatoes (about 3 pounds), scrubbed well
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS
1. Cover potatoes with cold salted water in a large pot, then bring to a boil. Simmer until slightly resistant when pierced with a sharp small knife, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain well. When cool, slice potatoes lengthwise.

2. Mix together salt, spices and apple cider vinegar; add oil in a slow stream. Brush this mixture on sweet potatoes.

3. Grill potatoes on a lightly oiled grill rack over medium heat, until grill marks appear and potatoes are cooked through, about 15 minutes.

4. Serve potatoes warm.

Serves 8

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I usually slice the sweet potatoes lengthwise, but this time I sliced them crosswise to make smaller servings.

2. One of my favorite ways to serve these potatoes is to cut the slices into cubes and then toss them in a green salad.

Enjoy!

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Poblano-Cheddar Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes What do you think of when you read the following words: belly, chop block, chuck, crab, cut back, dash, hash, rub, scoop, scramble, spread, turnover, and wishbone? I think about cooking and eating, but my husband thinks about football. Oddly enough, these words exist in both kitchen and football terminology. With Super Bowl Sunday quickly approaching, you’ll want to get that tight end of yours into the kitchen and try this fabulous recipe that puts a fresh and flavorful new spin on twice-baked potatoes. One taste of a Poblano-Cheddar Twice-Baked Sweet Potato and you’ll request an instant replay!

Poblano-Cheddar Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes
Food Network Magazine, December 2014

INGREDIENTS
4 medium sweet potatoes (10 to 12 ounces each)
2 poblano chile peppers
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus melted butter for brushing
6 tablespoons Mexican crema (or crème fraîche)
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
2 teaspoons adobo sauce (from a can of chipotles in adobo)
1/4 cup chopped scallions
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup grated mild cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
Chopped fresh cilantro, for topping

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Scrub the sweet potatoes and dry well; transfer to a baking sheet. Bake until easily pierced with a knife, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes.

2. Roast the poblanos over the flame of a gas burner (or under the broiler), turning, until charred all over, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool. Peel off the charred skins and remove the stems and seeds. Finely chop the peppers and set aside.

3. One at a time, hold each sweet potato with a kitchen towel and halve lengthwise. Scoop the flesh into a large bowl, leaving a 1/4-inch-thick shell. Mash the flesh with the butter, 3 tablespoons crema, the lime zest and adobo sauce until smooth. Stir in the poblanos and scallions; season with salt and pepper. Brush the potato skins with melted butter and season the insides with salt and pepper. Return to the baking sheet.

4. Mound the filling into the sweet potato skins and sprinkle the tops with the cheese. Return to the oven and bake until the filling starts browning and the skins are crisp, 16 to 18 minutes. Season with salt.

5. Stir the remaining 3 tablespoons crema in a small bowl with enough lime juice until thin enough to drizzle. Season with salt. Drizzle the lime crema over the sweet potatoes and top with cilantro.

Yields: 8 servings

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. Instead of buying packaged shredded cheese, I always grate my own cheese. Sure, packaged cheese is more convenient, but it also contains ingredients to keep the cheese from caking; ingredients that I don’t particularly want in my body. I’ve noticed that packaged shredded cheese doesn’t melt as well as the cheese that I grate on my own.

2. When making twice-baked potatoes of any kind, always bake one or two additional ones, so that you have enough potato mixture to mound into the potato shells. Otherwise, your stuffed potatoes will appear rather flat.

3. Definitely make the lime crema! It adds a bright and tangy counterpoint to the sweetness of the sweet potatoes.

4. This is not a hard recipe to make, but it does take some time to roast the poblano peppers and prep the other ingredients. To make this recipe more efficient, it helps to have all the ingredients prepped ahead of time. The sweet potatoes must be hot in order to melt the butter and absorb the crema. So if you are baking the potatoes ahead of time, you must stir in the other ingredients in step 3 while the potatoes are still hot. These potatoes can be assembled and refrigerated until it’s time to pop them into the oven.

Enjoy!

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Sweet Potato Fries For Dogs Hold the ketchup! Hold the salt! These baked sweet potato fries are perfect just the way they are! Perfect for dogs, that is. If most people could adjust their palates to accept baked fries with no added sodium, these would be perfectly delicious for humans, too!

Sweet Potato Fries For Dogs
Adapted from a recipe from Food.com

INGREDIENTS
Uncooked sweet potatoes or yams

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

2. Wash the skins of the sweet potatoes thoroughly and blot dry.

3. Cut the sweet potatoes in half lengthwise.

4. Cut the halves in lengthwise slices.*

5. Place the slices on a cookie sheet in a single layer.

6. Bake in the oven for about 3 hours.

7. After the fries cool down, it’s time for a taste test! Romeo keeps his eyes on the prize and he lifts his paw to a begging position . . . sniff, sniff . . . yes, he likes it! Romeo's Taste Test

LINNELL’S NOTES
1. I experimented with two varieties of sweet potatoes. My dog liked them both, but obviously the orange variety is more attractive-looking.

2. Try cutting the sweet potatoes as uniformly as possible for consistent baking. Leave the skin on for added fiber and micronutrients.

3. I set my oven to 280 degrees F. and baked the fries for 3 hours. Some of the fries were crunchy and some were chewy at this point. If your dog likes them crunchier, remove the crunchy ones from the sheet and continue to bake the chewy ones a little longer.

4. *As the slices bake and lose moisture, they will shrink. Take this into account when you are slicing the sweet potatoes and make the slices the appropriate size for your dog.

5. Sweet potatoes will release a sticky syrup as they bake, so I covered my baking sheets with parchment paper.

WOOF! WOOF! ENJOY!

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Plein Air painting in Santorini

Photo by Linnell Chang

Wouldn’t it be fun to travel the world and become a plein air painter? If I close my eyes, I can envision myself sitting in front of an easel with a paintbrush in my hand. The only problem with that idea is that after taking a couple of painting classes, I realize that my destiny and my talent does not extend in that direction. I haven’t completely given up on learning to paint, but in the mean time, I’ll just have to paint my world with words.

#1 – 12 Things to Say to Yourself
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: WORDS HAVE POWER. Reading the sentence, “Every breath you take is in sync with someone’s last,” from the 12 Things You Should Be Able to Say About Yourself, forced me to pause and reflect. Every second of every day people all over the world die, but I had never considered the synchronicity of our breaths. Acknowledging that my next breath is in sync with someone’s last breath, gave me a different perspective on life and an increased gratitude for being alive. Marc and Angel Hack Life have written another food-for-thought list that is well worth reading and thinking about.

#2 – Battle of the Potatoes
White Potato versus Sweet Potato There’s a lot of hoopla over sweet potatoes. Many restaurants serve sweet potato fries and many dog treats now contain sweet potato. Even my husband is on a sweet potato binge. Are sweet potatoes that much more nutritious than regular white potatoes? Compare their statistics on Food Face-Off: Which is Healthier? and decide for yourself.

#3 – The Heart of a Teacher
Teachers make a profound difference in the world every single day. With the school year coming to a close in many areas, I would like to share this video, based on the poem by Paula J. Fox, as a tribute to teachers around the globe.

#4 – Gifts For Teachers
Gifts for TeachersTrying to think of a nice way to thank your child’s teacher? iVillage’s 19 Homemade Teacher Gift Ideas: Thank-Yous They’ll Really Use – and Love! has some clever ideas that might be just what you’re looking for. The fact that your child can assist in making many of these gifts is a bonus, too.

#5 – Daily Motivation
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing. That’s why we recommend it daily.” —Zig Ziglar

Enjoy your weekend!

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Creamy potato salad is standard food fare for outdoor summer gatherings, but after consuming it, possibly the only thing gathering in your body is cholesterol. Here’s a potato salad recipe that is low in cholesterol and is easy to make. Plus, it uses sweet potatoes, which are packed with vitamins A and C, and contain almost twice as much dietary fiber than their more common counterparts – white potatoes. Utilizing the clean flavor of grapeseed oil and the fresh flavor of oranges, this sweet potato salad is bright in flavor and light in cholesterol. You won’t miss the mayonnaise, sour cream, and eggs!

Sweet Potato Salad
A Martha Stewart Recipe

Ingredients:
* 4 medium sweet potatoes (3 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces (8 cups)
* 3 tablespoons rice-wine vinegar
* 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
* 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
* 1 scallion, trimmed, thinly sliced diagonally
* Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
* 1/4 cup safflower or grapeseed oil
* 1/2 scallion (dark-green part only), thinly sliced diagonally for garnish

Directions:
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add sweet potatoes, and return to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain.
2. Whisk vinegar, orange zest and juice, 1 scallion, and 1 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified. Season with pepper. Toss dressing with sweet potatoes in a large bowl, and garnish with remaining 1/2 scallion. Refrigerate until chilled, up to 1 day.

Serves 4.

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