Okinawan Sweet Potatoes Compliment Summer Cookouts Have you tasted purple sweet potatoes? Featured in area Asian markets and local neighborhood fresh markets, purple sweet potatoes, also known as Okinawan sweet potatoes, are quickly gaining in culinary popularity. Native to Central and South America, purple sweet potatoes were introduced in Asia and from there spread in popularity all around the world. If you are lucky enough to find organically grown purple sweet potatoes: you are in for an incredible taste treat. Like other types of sweet potatoes, purple sweet potatoes can be baked, grilled, broiled, boiled, steamed or fried. Children of all ages love them mashed and seasoned to taste with butter, honey, maple syrup or brown sugar. Prepared this way, they are a fine side dish to serve with barbecued pork ribs. A dicotyledonous plant in the family Convolulaceae, the purple sweet potato is a sweet-tasting, starchy root vegetable. All varieties of sweet potatoes grow from herbaceous, perennial vines. The sturdy vines exhibit large heart shaped leaves and trumpet-shaped flowers. There are dozens of different varieties of sweet potatoes. The smooth skinned tubers range in color from pale beige, brown, yellow, orange, red and purple. Sweet potato varieties that present pale colored flesh are not as sweet or moist as those with vibrantly colored orange, red or purple flesh. Purple sweet potatoes obtain their brilliant coloration from anthocyanin compounds, the same heath boosting pigment that causes the purple coloration of red cabbage, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, and grapes. Over the past 40 years, Japanese sweet potato growers have developed several different varieties of purple sweet potatoes, primarily for use in the nutraceutical market and as a natural replacement for synthetic red and blue food dyes. Exceptionally rich in natural color and nutrients, purple sweet potatoes are an excellent addition to a healthy diet, providing a good source of: • Iron • Calcium • Dietary Fiber • Complex carbohydrates • Vitamin A • Vitamin C • Antioxidants from polyphenolic and anthocyanin compound A 4 ounce serving of purple sweet potato contains only 130 calories yet offers 2 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber: nutrients and color are retained after cooking. Savory Apple, Sweet Potato, Cranberry Compote This sweet and spicy compote is a perfect accompaniment to grilled pork chops or barbecued ribs. The compote can be served alone, over ice cream or used as a delicious pie filling. Serve hot or cold. Ingredients: • 2 pounds purple sweet potatoes • 2 pounds cored and peeled cooking apples • 1 cup fresh washed and culled cranberries • ½ cup honey • ½ cup brown sugar • 1-teaspoon cinnamon • ½ teaspoon nutmeg • ½ teaspoon cardamom • 2 cups apple juice or non-alcoholic apple cider Pre-bake sweet potatoes for 45 minutes at 325 degrees F. Allow potatoes to cool. When cool, peel and cut into 1-inch cubes. Combine sweet potatoes and remaining ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Cook at low heat until all ingredients are soft and tender, and liquid is reduced. Stir regularly while cooking to keep from burning.