• Alex

Bubble & Squeak - Sweet Potato Mash Recipe

In last weeks blog, I looked at the origins of claims about excessively high protein requirements and the potential health effects. If we don’t want too much protein as it increases cancer growth rates, and we don’t want too much fat because because it clogs up our bodies and causes heart disease and dementia. Then where exactly are we supposed to get most of our calories from? Carbohydrates….

There is a lot of confusion on this subject due to double naming standards. The term "Carbohydrate" scientifically refers to a type of macronutrient, which is present within nearly all foods in varying amounts. However the term "Carbs" has also come to be a nickname for certain types of foods that contain the majority of the carbohydrate content in a traditional meal. People tend think of meat as the "Proteins" (even if it contains a lot of fat!) and Rice, Bread, Pasta etc as the "Carbs".

"Simple Carbohydrate” foods have given carbs a bad name in the public eye. These refined foods have had a lot of their vitamins and minerals stripped away during the refinement process and we are left with mainly empty calories. In history these food provided an important role in growing society by staving off hunger and starvation as population numbers rose as these refined foods usually have a long storage life and can be stockpiled for times of need. But where as in the past they were a solution to a problem (Starvation), now they can be cause of the new problem (Obesity) due to the ease of access to these long shelf-life foods (cakes, biscuits etc). There is a reason we crave these foods, we are meant to eat a lot of carbohydrates, just not the refined “Simple” type. The type of carbohydrates I am talking about are the "Complex Carbohydrates" found in fresh fruits and vegetables. If you check the macronutrient content of any fresh grocery item (leafs, or fruits, or tubers) you will find they are all mostly carbohydrates, with a little bit of protein and virtually no fat. I have already spoke about how all the other great apes consume foods in this macronutrient ratio. If we have spent most of our evolutionary history eating this way then our bodies are bound to have evolved features to encourage us to crave these foods when we are low on carbohydrates, we just misinterpret these cravings and end up eating a sugary dessert when really we just need to consume more fruit. Being our closest living relatives, apes can give us a good insight into our ancient eating habits but surely we have changed significantly since then, so what about in modern-day humans, what is the best example we have of healthy long living people?

A "Centenarian" is someone who has lived to be over 100 years old. There are some places in the world where a significantly larger portion of the population make it to this age, or even to be supercentarians (over 110 years old). These areas are referred to as the “Blue Zones” and are areas of intense scientific study to figure out what is special about these people and how they are living so long. The blue zones all seem to have some lifestyle factors in common, such as low meat consumption, high intake of fruits and vegetables and a lot of physical activity. Of all the “Blue Zones”, perhaps the most famous is an island off the coast of Japan, called Okinawa. These people live off carbohydrates, traditionally 80% of their daily calorie intake came from carbs, and the majority was just sweet potatoes! If carbs were bad for you surely these people wouldn’t have been able to live such long life (and remain so active well into their later years).

Now I love sweet potatoes, the people in Okinawa seems to be lucky as they have access to what seems to be a “Super Sweet Potato” In the form of the Okinawan sweet potato, also known as the purple sweet potato. The vibrant bright purple colour of this tuber comes from a high density of antioxidants within the vegetable. So its like they are consuming a bowl of berries at the same time as getting the calories from the potato. Remember the more colourful your food is the better it is for you, that’s why we can see in color to help us pick out the ripe fruit from far away.

Unfortunately the purple sweet potato can be hard to find in other countries and when you do find it, its not usually cheap! If you get a chance to try one, I’d recommend it as they are delicious and I usually treat myself to some once or twice a year but they aren’t in my weekly shop! So combining normal orange sweet potatoes with a vibrant purple food seems to be the answer…. Red Cabbage is full of those anthocyanins that gives the Okinawan sweet potato that intense purple color. Cabbage is also very low in calories while providing physical volume, so that works well with my current theme of increasing the volume of recipes while driving the calorie content down. In England, there is a traditional dish called "Bubble and Squeak" which is basically mashed potatoes with cabbage mixed in. So I decided to reimagine this dish using Sweet Potato and Red Cabbage instead to create a tasty meal that quick and easy to make while being in line what we have learned from the people in Okinawa. So lets get to the recipe.... "Bubble and Squeak" - Sweet Potato Mash Recipe


300g Sweet Potatoes

1/2 tbsp Nutritional Yeast 50ml Unsweetened Soya Milk 1/4 tsp Black Pepper 1/4 tsp Salt (or ground seaweed such as wakame) 75g Red Cabbage 75g Green Peas (frozen) 50g Broccoli or Cauliflower

Instructions 1) Peel and chop the sweet potato into approx 2cm wide cubes. You could cook it whole but it will take longer, dicing the potato increases the surface area exposed to the heat meaning the potato cooks faster. 2) Boil water in the bottom pot of your stackable steamer basket. Once the water is boiling, add the sweet potato into this water.

3) Place the second tier steamer basket on top and fill with your frozen Green Peas, Chopped Red Cabbage and Broccoli (I used cauliflower as I had some to use up!) so that the steam from boiling the potatoes below cooks these. Place a lid on top to trap the steam in. If you don't have a steamer basket you can always just boil these vegetable in a separate pan on another hob while you cook the potato. I just prefer them steamed as it preserves the most nutrients cooking this way.

4) Dice the Red onion into small pieces. 5) About 15 minutes your Sweet potatoes should be cooked. Poke them with a fork and check they are soft. Drain off the cooking water into a measuring jug but don’t throw it away as this is going to be our base for our gravy. 6) Add the Gravy granules to this hot water and mix. Then cover and leave it to thicken.

7) Mash the sweet potato using the back of a fork into a soft paste. While doing this you can mix in the soya milk, nutritional yeast, salt and pepper. I like to use dried seaweed as an alternative to salt, to do this simple soften it with some boiling water and then chop or blend it up, It will add a salty flavour to your meal without adding excessive sodium and providing a rare source of Iodine.

8) Add your chopped red onion to the mash and mix it into the mash along with the Red Cabbage from the steamer basket. Traditionally "Bubble and Squeak" is then fried to dry it out more. This is where it gets its name from, from the sounds it would make when frying. But frying in oil just adds fat content to a meal (and more calories). You could always put this pot in the oven for a while to dry it out more if you wanted a more solid traditional texture. But it seems silly to me to have to wait longer for the food to dry out when you are just going to cover it in gravy to make the meal less dry, so this is where I stop cooking it any further and just serve it up!

9) Serve the mash onto a plate. Take your peas and cauliflower out of the steam basket and add this to the plate as well. 10) Pour over as much gravy as you like and serve!

A c"Centenarian" is someone who has lived to be over 100 years old. There are some places in the world where a significantly larger amount of the population make it to this age, or even to be be e p you full for long after. With 13g of protein and less than 2g of fat this meal is very close to the macronutrient intakes of the traditional Okinawan diet: 86% of the calories come from carbohydrates, 11% from protein and only 3% from fat. "

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