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Christine Barbour Knows Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes go so well with so many really great flavors, like curry, cinnamon, and ginger.

This recipe for caramelized sweet potatoes is a perfect Thanksgiving dessert.

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The Many Faces Of Sweet Potatoes

Roasted, scalloped, fried, or mashed – sweet potatoes belong as a staple vegetable in everyone’s kitchen.

At least food writer and political science lecturer Christine Barbour seems to think so. She was introduced to sweet potatoes as a young child at Thanksgiving, but she has since developed a complex relationship with this tuber. “You get them from the farmers market, and they are like little jewels. They are delightful little vegetables!”

They go so well with so many really great flavors, like curry, cinnamon, and ginger. She loves to mash them with orange juice and butter or add curry powder and lime to give them a sharper flavor. But the dish that sounded the most decadent: sweet potato fries with shag bark hickory syrup drizzled over top.

I also just made a fall soup with lentils, beans, and bunch of different kinds of grains. Then I added orange and red vegetables, like red bell peppers, sweet potatoes, butternut squash. It was gorgeous, and it didn’t taste at all like a marshmallow!

Top Marks For Nutrition

Sweet potatoes are as healthy as they are tasty. In fact, according to the Center For Science In The Public Interest, sweet potatoes top the list of ten best foods to eat. They scored 184, which was 100 points higher than the next highest vegetable. Points were given for dietary fiber, naturally occurring sugars and complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins A and C, iron and calcium.

When eaten with the skins, sweet potatoes have more fiber than oatmeal, and one potato contains 42-times the daily recommended intake of vitamin C. All of this for only approximately 130 calories!

Caramelized Sweet Potatoes

“Everyone has a Mom’s Sweet Potato Recipe, but my mom’s was the best,” Barbour jokes. While she loves to eat sweet potatoes simply baked, sliced and salted, this recipe satisfies her sweet tooth.

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Caramelized Sweet Potatoes


  • 5-6 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • dash cinnamon
  • sprinkle of salt

Cooking Directions

  1. Scrub 5 or 6 large sweet potatoes. Cut in halves or quarters in a large pot. Boil until a fork pierces them easily, but donâ??t let them get mushy. Let cool and peel (skins will slip right off). Cut into chunks about the size of two or three bites.
  2. Meanwhile, melt a stick of butter in a skillet. When it is melted, add brown sugar and stir until it dissolves and starts to caramelize.
  3. Add sweet potatoes to the pan and bathe them in the caramel until they are rich brown.
  4. Let it cook gently and add a dash of cinnamon to taste and a sprinkling of salt. You can keep these warm or allow them to cool and reheat at the last minute.
  5. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

Annie Corrigan

Annie Corrigan is a producer and announcer for WFIU. In addition to serving as the local voice for NPR's Morning Edition, she produces WFIU's weekly sustainable food program Earth Eats. She earned degrees in oboe performance from Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

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