When I think of Earth Day, I think potatoes! Grown right beneath the Earth’s surface as what is called a tuber, a plant’s main energy source, potatoes make for the ideal, (and nutrient-dense) Earth crop. Potatoes originated in the Andes of Peru, where they thrive in the cold mountains and rich soil. Sweet potatoes and purple potatoes are just two of over 3,000 species existing in Peru!
Sweet potatoes are easily distinguished by their pale purple skins and bright orange flesh. The biggest clue to their health benefits comes through their color. As with all produce, the pigmentation can offer clues about the properties of the food. In the case of sweet potatoes, the color is attributable to a high level of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to prevent oxidative damage, which can help prevent both cancer and cardiovascular disease. High consumption of beta-carotene has also been shown to promote eye health. Sweet potatoes also contain a wealth of vitamin A, far more than your daily requirement!
Purple potatoes are relatively new to us here in the U.S, but they have been a staple of the Peruvian diet since the time of the Incas, when they were reserved for kings. The special health powers sealed in purple potatoes are found in their color. These little fingerlings are packed full of anthocyanin, a pigment that acts as a powerful antioxidant. Anthocyanins are absorbed directly into the blood stream, which has a healing effect on liver injury and helps decrease blood pressure. Anthocyanins also help control the rise of blood sugars by breaking up glucose after eating. Much of the pigmentation is found in the potato skins, so it’s important to cook them with the skin on for maximum health benefits.
A fun and healthy alternative to the common potato chip of the United States, is baked sweet potatoes and purple potato chips. The ingredient list is simple but the taste is exquisite. I use Canola oil because of its tasteless flavor and heart healthy properties, allowing me to experience the full taste of the potatoes as well as adding an extra omega-3 kick to my chips.
Be sure to celebrate your Earth Day with Earth’s finest of snacks!
Sweet Potato and Purple Potato Chips
1 large Sweet potato, thinly sliced
2 medium-sized Purple potatoes, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons Canola oil
Cooking oil spray
Salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Rinse and dry your sweet potatoes and purple potatoes thoroughly and slice them as uniformly thin as possible. If you have a mandolin, use it. Otherwise, use a very sharp knife to get them extra thin.
- Lightly coat slices with canola oil, and sprinkle with salt. Spread chips out in a single layer on a well-greased baking sheet. Bake for 60 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.
- Let chips cool for 10 minutes before serving. Best results when eaten day of.
For more recipes using Peruvian superfoods, visit here.