sweet potato

lunchbox life: sweet potato bowls with chicken and spinach

image1(22)Welcome back! It’s Week 2 for the 2015-16 school year, and I’m happy to report that Week 1 was excellent. Seriously. I have great students who are willing to try new things are ready for a year of hard work and challenges, I’m settling back into a routine of teaching five classes per day, and I’m happy to be reunited with my work buddies. One adjustment, however, is getting back into the groove of inhaling my lunch five time per week. During my summers at GHP, we have a 90 minute lunch break, but during the school year, I have about 25 minutes, including any microwaving that I need to do. I’ll get used to it again, but it’s certainly an adjustment.

This week’s lunch comes from a serious love for sweet potatoes. Instead of a brown rice or quinoa bowl, this spin uses sweet potatoes as a healthy starch while keeping the dish grain-free. Ever since my Whole30 experience this summer, I’ve been making a conscious effort (probably 80% of the time) to follow the Whole30 guidelines, being particularly intentional for breakfasts and lunches during the week. This sweet potato bowl has everything you need for an energy boost: roasted sweet potatoes for fiber and starch (energy), chicken for protein, and spinach for all of the leafy green action (Vitamins A and K, folic acid, fiber, etc.). I seasoned the sweet potatoes with turmeric, which has multiple health benefits, including its role as an anti-inflammatory spice.

As I’ve done before here on the blog, I used already prepared rotisserie chicken for this dish. Sometimes I do this because of time constraints, but I also go this route quite frequently during the spring and summer months because I just don’t love the idea of having the oven on for that long in our house. Added heat? No thank you!

Sweet Potato Bowls with Chicken and Spinach

3 large sweet potatoes

1 large sweet onion

1 large or two small whole rotisserie chicken(s), organic if possible

1 lb. organic baby spinach

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. turmeric

1.5 Tbsp. ghee (clarified butter)

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Halve and peel the onion, then thinly slice each half into half-moon shapes. Place the onion slices on a cookie sheet. Next, peel the sweet potatoes, then cut each peeled sweet potato into 1/2 inch circles. Largely dice the circles, then place them on the cookie sheet with the onions. Add the olive oil, turmeric, 1 Tbsp. salt, and 1/2 Tbsp. pepper to the onions and sweet potatoes, mix them around in the sheet with your hands, then roast in the oven for about 35 minutes.

When this is in the oven, begin to break down your rotisserie chicken. Remove the skin and all bones and place both white and dark meat in a mixing bowl. When this step is complete, use your hands to shred the chicken. Don’t worry about the shreds being exactly the same size.

Next, melt the ghee in a large pan on the stovetop. In batches, add the baby spinach and 2 tsp. salt. Use tongs to saute the spinach in the pan, then add the shredded chicken and toss to combine.

For each bowl, evenly distribute the sweet potatoes, then evenly distribute the chicken and spinach. When you’re ready to eat, reheat the bowl in the microwave on high for about two minutes, adjusting accordingly for your preference of heat.

lunchbox life: chicken and black bean enchilada sweet potatoes


I realize that I have posted several recipes in the last few months featuring sweet potatoes, and I confess: I’m a fan. Sweet potatoes are full of nutrition, including fiber, which is a great feature for lunch. As I have preached several times before on the blog, fiber keeps you fuller longer because it take the body longer to break down, giving you plenty of fuel for your day. Sweet potatoes also have a naturally great flavor that is both sweet and savory. I’ve featured a turkey chili-topped sweet potato before for lunchbox life, and in a similar turn of events, this take on a favorite features enchilada chicken–yum–with even more fiber from black beans.

This recipe is pretty foolproof. I don’t always love using a slow cooker, but it’s a great way to make a good meal when you’re busy or when you don’t have a lot of time to commit to cooking. Since we had the day off, we ran several errands, so this was a wonderful way to create my lunches for the week.

Chicken and Black Bean Enchilada Sweet Potatoes

5 small sweet potatoes

2 large chicken breasts, fresh or frozen

1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced into half moons

2 15 oz. cans enchilada sauce (I used La Preferida)

1 15 oz. can black beans, drained

4 oz. cotija cheese, small diced

1 green onion, thinly sliced

Set a slow cooker on high heat (4 hours) and add the chicken breast, sliced yellow onion, and enchilada sauce.

Three hours later, set the oven to 400 F. Wrap each sweet potato in aluminum foil and bake for an hour, then remove from the oven.

When the 4 hours are up on the slow cooker, use two forks to shred the chicken in the sauce. Add the black beans and stir to combine.

To plate, unwrap each sweet potato and place one in each container. Slice each lengthwise, then top with the chicken mixture. Evenly distribute the cotija cheese and green onions on top of each topped sweet potato.

meatless monday: curried carrot and sweet potato soup, grilled sweet potato bread, Fu ManBrew from Monday Night Brewing



Happy New year, everyone! I know more most folks this was the first work day of the year (not for me!), so I wanted to treat you to a nice warm bowl of soup and a crisp, cold beer– the perfect combination for the weather today that looked like a spring day with the cold bite of winter.

The carrot and sweet potato soup here is inspired by the big box we received from The Dirt Farmers. Golden, Purple, and Orange carrots went with half of a giant sweet potato into this soup that was hit with curry flavors to give it a warm, spicy bite. The root veggies were perfect vehicles for the big spices. The other half of the potato made its way into a savory bread similar to banana or zucchini bread, but with a buttery taste (even if no butter was used). By grilling the bread, it became the perfect bread compliment for the spicy soup, with just a little sweetness and nice texture. Avocado provided a nice creamy note to counter the spice as well. The dish was very well balanced.

The Fu ManBrew was perfect compliment. A witbier from Monday Night Brewing, a star of the Peach State Ale Trail, this pairing added some crispness and ginger notes that meshed with curry and ginger flavors of the soup. The complimentary flavors let the beer pick up notes from the soup while being cooling, not jarring. Being a bright, crisp witbier, Fu ManBrew added needed lightness to the meal that would have been very heavy otherwise. I highly recommend it.

Curried Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots
3 cloves garlic
1/2 large sweet potato, grated
Several sliced peeled carrots (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 tsp grated ginger
2 tsp curry powder (or mix of garam masala, turmeric, fennel, coriander, Cayenne, and pepper)
1 tsp red pepper flake
3 cups vegetable broth
1 dash rice vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup heavy cream

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat and saute the shallot and onions about 3 minutes. Add the potato and carrot and saute for about five minutes. Stir in the spices and heat another minute. Pour in the broth and vinegar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and heat another 20 minutes. Blend the mixture with an immersion blender until smooth. Finish by stirring in the cream.

Savory Sweet Potato Bread

1/2 large sweet potato (1 1/4 cups)
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 medium shallot
1 clove garlic
Olive oil to saute
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup suger
1 egg
2/3 cup canola oil
1 avocado
1/4 cup toasted walnuts

Grease a loaf pan and heat oven to 350.

Mix flours, baking soda and powder and salt.

Saute the shallot and garlic in oil for 2-3 minutes, allow to cool. Add to flour mixture

Grate the potato and stir in the egg, sugar and oil. Slowly mix in the flour until well mixed. Pour into the loaf pan and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle can be cleanly removed.

Heat a grill pan over medium high heat.

Slice the loaf into 1/2 slices and place diagonally on the hot grill pan. Grill 4 minutes and rotate 1/4 turn and heat an addition 4 minutes.

Place the grilled bread in a shallow bowl and ladle soup around it. Garnish with sliced avocado and toasted walnuts.


Enjoy the warm flavors and happy new year!


lunchbox life: slowcooker smoky chicken, sweet potato, and kale soup


…with quinoa, red beans, tomatoes, and lots of spices. Once again, I ate too much over the weekend and was in want of something filling, yet nutritious for this week’s lunches. Let’s be honest, though–that’s always the goal. I don’t use our slowcooker as often as some people, but slowcookers are a great way to multitask if you have several chores around the house and don’t have time to do intricate cooking. This soup couldn’t be easier, plus it’s very adaptable–you could substitute a myriad of ingredients in or out. You don’t even cook the chicken or quinoa beforehand–they cook in the soup liquid! Here’s what it looks like going into the crock pot:

image(77)And here’s what it looks like after six hours of warmth and slowcooker love:

image(78)The protein from the chicken breast, quinoa, and red beans are a great pairing with the good carbs from the quinoa (again), beans (again), and sweet potato. The fiber from the quinoa, beans, and kale will keep you full all afternoon, too. I ate one serving of this, along with an apple, at lunch today, then ran 4 miles after school and wasn’t hungry until dinnertime.  Speaking of dinnertime, this would be a great weeknight dinner with a green salad!

Slowcooker Smoky Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Kale Soup

1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed

1 bunch kale, torn into bite-size pieces

15 oz. red beans, drained

1 cup quinoa, dry

28 oz. diced tomatoes

2 medium sweet potatoes, small dice

5 cups chicken broth

1 Tbsp. salt

1/2 Tbsp. pepper

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

Combine all ingredients in a slowcooker and cook on high for six hours.

lunchbox life: baked sweet potato with turkey chili


If you love baked sweet potatoes like I do, then you’re going to love this. If you also love chili like I do, but don’t want to overdo it with an onslaught of toppings (sour cream, cheese, crackers), then this is also for you.

This recipe could not be easier: wrap five small sweet potatoes in aluminum foil and bake at 400 F for one hour. While the potatoes are baking, you make the chili on the stovetop. I like this chili recipe because it’s healthy, flavorful, and has a whisper of sweetness from the addition of ground cinnamon.

I think this would also be a great weeknight meal. Once you put the potatoes in the oven and assemble the chili, you can do a few chores around the house, and an hour later, you can slice up the potatoes, ladle on the chili, and dig in.

Baked Sweet Potato with Turkey Chili

Makes five lunches. The chili makes six servings, so save the last serving for another meal.

5 small sweet potatoes

1 lb. ground turkey

1 Tbsp. olive oil

15.5 oz. kidney beans

15.5 oz. Great Northern beans

28 oz. crushed tomatoes

2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. white pepper

1 tsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. cumin

green onions, chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Wrap each sweet potato in aluminum foil and bake for about an hour.

In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Brown the ground turkey in the oil. When the turkey is cooked, add the beans, tomatoes, and seasoning to the pot. Stir to combine. Bring the chili to a boil, then place the lid on the pot and turn the heat down to low and let simmer.

When everything is ready, take the potatoes out of the oven and discard the aluminum foil. Slice the potatoes lengthwise and cut a crosshatch pattern into each side’s flesh. Top with chili and green onions.

lunchbox life: stuffed sweet potatoes with spinach, hummus, and feta


Is that you, Fall?  Do I feel your sweet gusts of wind?  There’s not quite a chill in the air, but my favorite season just might be upon us soon.

Alex and I have just watched the most recent episode of Breaking Bad (agggghhh that show is so crazy!), so since I’m at a loss for pleasantries due to shock, I’ll cut right to the chase this evening.

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Spinach, Hummus, and Feta

5 small sweet potatoes, individually wrapped in aluminum foil

2 cups fresh spinach

1/2 cup hummus (I prefer Sabra brand)

4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste

Heat oven to 400 degrees and roast sweet potatoes for about 2 hours (or until tender to the touch with your oven mitt).  Let potatoes cool for at least 30 minutes, or in my case, a whole episode of Breaking Bad.  Take the potatoes out of the foil and make a slice lengthwise on top of the potato, keeping the bottom side intact.  Scoop out the flesh of the potato and place in a medium mixing bowl.  Add the fresh spinach and combine until the spinach begins to slightly wilt.  Next, add the hummus and stir to combine.  Finally, add the feta, salt, pepper, and garlic powder and stir to combine.  Evenly distribute the potato mixture into the potato jackets/skins and serve OR refrigerate for lunches!

lunchbox life: pork tenderloin with curry roasted sweet potatoes, onions, and cauliflower


This is definitely a fall dish, but alas, it’s mid-August.

I try to eat seasonally, but as much as I love summer tomatoes, avocados, berries, and basil, I feel like I’ve exhausted those options for the moment.  (Yes, I’ll be kicking myself in January for even thinking such a thing.)  So, inspired by a tiny hankering for sweet potatoes and my ongoing love for curry, this little number was created.

If you think you don’t like cauliflower, it’s because you’ve never roasted it.  This drab veggie transforms from that icky, untouched tree-like thing on the half-eaten veggie party platter to an earthy, flavorful morsel that you can’t stop eating.  It’s a terribly underrated vegetable, but with some high heat and spices, you’ll be singing its praises, too!

This is a pretty lazy and low-key dish, but the bigger ingredient here is time.  The veggies take time to roast and, depending on how you prepare the pork tenderloin, the pork will need to slow-roast in the crock pot.  This worked perfectly today for me, though–we’ve been running around doing a trial run for our Taste of the Arts entry on behalf of Historic Macon and getting ready to have a few friends over for the series premiere of Breaking Bad (Did you see it?  What EXACTLY did Walt mean when he said “tread lightly”?).

For the pork tenderloin, I was slightly limited.  The Kroger near our house only had pre-seasoned tenderloins.  To be fair, I really wanted a turkey breast tenderloin (made by Jennie-O and Honeysuckle White), but Kroger was out of those, too.  I bought a garlic and lemon pre-seasoned tenderloin and threw it in the crock pot on high heat (4 hours) with some chicken stock, dijon mustard, blueberry jam, ginger, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  I’d give you measurements, but I really don’t have them!  You can cook this any way you want, but for what it’s worth, I was just focused on having a flavorful lean protein.  You could certainly use chicken breast, but I get so tired of the same old boneless skinless chicken breast that I like to change it up every now and then.

Curry Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Onions, and Cauliflower

3 small sweet potatoes

2 small sweet Vidalia onions

1 large head of cauliflower

3 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. curry powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Chop sweet potatoes into bite-size pieces and place in a large roasting pan.  Chop the cauliflower into similar sized pieces and add to the pan.  Next, chop the onions into thin, half-moon shapes and add them to the pan.  In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil and spices.  Pour over the vegetables and toss thoroughly to combine.  Roast for about an hour, stirring the veggies to prevent burning about twice during the hour.

meatless monday: fried banana biscuits with arugula, alt-veg hash browns, mango, and steamed artichoke appetizer- JAM

Sweet, peppery, buttery... in a word, nomulous.

Sweet, peppery, buttery… in a word, nomulous.

Let me start by noting that the reason you missed MM and TT last week was due to this:

Best baby shower ever, so much homemade bbq

Best baby shower ever, so much homemade bbq

Now…I might have a strange taste and notion of what works as a meal sometimes. Thinking of a good dish for meatless monday yesterday and I couldn’t get the idea of a banana biscuit out of my head. I think it was mainly that I wanted to try a new biscuit recipe from my new book, but I thought I would give this flavor combo that I have never tried before a go. It turned out really well to my taste buds, let me know what you think.

I joined my sweet sandwich with a alt-veg hash brown with sweet potato, carrot, zucchini, parsnip, and asparagus (and some friends from Bungalow Garden). With some of my favorite potato approximations in my favorite potato delivery method seemed like a win in the old mental test kitchen, and I think it was the most successful dish of the meal.

I was also seduced by some delicious artichokes while at the market. I tried a Tyler Florence recipe http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/steamed-whole-artichokes-recipe/index.htm. I think it was good, but the flavors could have been bolder. But can you blame me for buying this:

Bright green, vitamins.

Bright green, vitamins.

All told, this was a good supper.


I really wanted to try one of Virginia Willis’s biscuit recipes and her Buttermilk angel biscuits did not disappoint. They use yeast, so they are certainly dinner biscuits, tasting buttery and gooey like a biscuit, while being yeasty and soft like a roll. Nom.

I also made the biscuits a little larger and thicker than she calls for, because I read in the Sunny point cafe cookbook “the correct thickness is the key to a stately biscuit.” I suppose that’s true, as shown by these photos.

B-Before B-After Pulled

Top this bad boy with bananas fried in butter and honey and some little cooked with garlic and pepper arugula, and you have a really nice dinner sandwich.

6 cups flour

1 package yeast (1/4 cup warm water, 1 tbls sugar)

3 tbls sugar

1 tbls baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup shortening

2+ cups of buttermilk

2 tbls butter, melted, to top biscuits.


The hash:

Wanting to avoid the overly starchy nature of breakfast foods and add vitamins to supper, I conceived an alt-veg hash featuring sweet potato. With the veggies, I threw in some chives and rosemary from the garden, and the customary salt, pepper and fresh garlic. Cook it on a hot griddle with just a bit of canola oil to fry it up. delicious.

It is kinda like waffle house.

It is kinda like waffle house.

2 medium sweet potatoes, grated

2 parsnips, grated

2 carrots, grated

1 zucchini, grated

1/2 lb asparagus, slivered with a peeler

herbs to taste.

1/8 cup canola oil per cooking


If you have the chance to put fresh ripe mango on a plate, do it. I say.


Using the Tyler Florence recipe was ok, but I would double down on the pepper and add some heat and garlic. It was ok, but unremarkable.

All told, make this meal for a tasty, colorful plate and a nice cap to monotonous Monday: