Easy Cilantro Sweet Potato and Squash Bake

I have a crush. My partner knows about it and accepts it, because, truth be told, he’s a bit smitten too. The keeper of my heart is a big sweetie. Sweet Potato, more precisely. I’m not sure when I began my love affair with sweet potatoes, but like any worthwhile relationship, we went through some highs and lows. Two years ago, when I was still in denial about what it meant to “cook,” I would eat dinners of a single sweet potato and heat up some frozen green veggies: usually broccoli or peas. I’d cover SP in Earth Balance and add cinnamon, cayenne and salt. And that’d be dinner. Delicious, and, yes, somewhat nutritious, but I was smothering my love with a heap of not-so-great stuff (for all the Earth-Balance-is-better-than-butter truisms, the tub o’ wonder still isn’t exactly healthy), and too scant a side of the good stuff. Plus, I wasn’t letting this handsome suitor show me all they had to give: like their dashing ability to become healthy baked fries, or to be mashed up into a rich and delicious hummus, or added to the world’s best white bean/kale soup, or to become bedfellows (we’re polyamorous, duh) with black beans, avocado and cilantro!

Sweet potatoes are undeniably nutritious. According to a recent article in Runner’s World, “a single 100-calorie sweet potato supplies over 250 percent of the DV for vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, the powerful antioxidant. Sweet potatoes are also a good source of vitamin C, potassium, iron, and the two trace minerals manganese and copper.” So this dish, coupled with the healthy-fat nutrients of the avocado and fiber of the black beans makes this one of my favorite healthy recipes!

This is a super simple recipe, and can act as a template for a variety of combinations. It’s one of those recipes that’s really hard to screw it up if you stick to some basic staples.

Sweet Potato/Squash Bake

Ingredients:

2 Sweet Potatoes, chopped

2-3 farm fresh squash (of course, it doesn’t *need* to be farm-fresh, but WOW does it make a difference in taste!)

1 can black beans drained and rinsed

1 avocado

fresh baby spinach

Sauce:

2-3 tblsp. sunflower oil (or any high-heat oil)

1 small lime

1 cup cilantro

1-2 tblsp chili powder

1-2 tblsp cumin

1 clove chopped garlic

salt and red pepper flakes to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Chop up potatoes and veggies in bite size bites. Put in baking pan, and add beans.

Mix ingredients of sauce in a small bowl.

Pour sauce over beans and veggies, mix around so everything is coated.

Bake for 40 minutes or until veggies are soft.

Serve on bed of spinach and slice up pieces of avocado on top.

SO EASY! So delicious. : )

Another option is to make an avocado sauce by mashing up your avocado with lime juice and adding that on top. This worked well for me when I made this same dish with corn instead of squash–the corn was less moist than the squash, and the avocado sauce was a nice touch. See?

This was definitely a summer “go-to” meal. What were your favorite go-to meals this summer?

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