I’m not sure what’s going on, but lately every meal I eat has to involve at least one of the following: coconut, lime, avocado, banana, or sweet potatoes. These flavors have just sounded so good to me, and I want to use these foods in everything! Could it be that I’m pining for trade winds and tropical aqua waters? That I’m trying to somehow eat my way to bright, sandy, white beaches and sweet, warm, orchid-scented air? Ok, maybe I am, a little.
After all, my family and I live in one of the top 10 cloudiest states in the country, where winter drags from November until at least April. I suppose I am tiring of the white/gray scene outside of my window. But it’s far too early to start itching for Spring, and to be honest I haven’t yet reached my breaking point. You know, that moment when you want to start shouting obscenities at the brutal, sub-zero wind and snow pelting you in the face. Or when you’re ready to start scraping the dirty white blanket of snow off the lawn with a shovel, because it’s been so long since you’ve seen the ground. No, I’m not there yet! Other than the insanely cold temps we had earlier this month, this winter really hasn’t been so bad. Of course, my husband has been the one doing the shoveling so far, (thanks babe!) so I really can’t complain.
It seems that everyone around me is ready for an escape from the Midwest. A coworker of mine brought up this very subject at work the other day. He and his wife are planning to fly down to Florida with their 4-month-old son in a few weeks for a long vacation. Those brave souls! My sister Teresa (of the awesome running/fitness/health blog, 60×45 Challenge) and her husband are soon to be basking in the sunny island of Antigua. And I’ve been seeing displays of “vacation clothes” popping up in stores. You know, those bright, citron-hued bikinis, super-short shorts, long flowy maxi skirts and airy dresses that must be meant for the winter vacationers and collegiate spring-breakers. Other than a flight of fancy, I don’t think my husband and I will be embarking on a trip through the friendly skies anytime soon. Our busy little girl gets impatient sitting still during the 1.5 mile drive to the grocery store, so I couldn’t imagine doing any real traveling with her. And while a vacation from cold temps and toddler tantrums does sound nice, neither mommy nor daughter are ready to be apart for any considerable length of time (i.e. more than eight hours). So for now I will settle on taking my taste buds for a little tropical getaway.
Enter today’s island inspired recipe. It features an impressive 4 out of the 5 foods of tropical persuasion that I’ve been craving lately. They’re also incredibly easy to make, and you’ll be enjoying it all in just 35 quick minutes. Roasted sweet potato rounds are coated in toasty shredded coconut and served alongside a cool, creamy, lime-infused avocado “mayo” for dipping. In my little make-believe vacation scenario, these would be ordered up at a little roadside snack shack after a long day of frolicking in the ocean waves and pedaling around on a retro tandem bicycle. And washed down with a cute drink in a coconut shell. Yes, I have quite the imagination, I know. These would make the perfect side to a spicy homemade veggie burger, or marinated tofu and veggie kabobs. If you want to shake things up, add a little cayenne to the rounds. The little kick of heat and touch of sweet contrast beautifully with the cool, zesty, and creamy lime-avocado dip.
Because this is Feeding Your Beauty, rest assured that these foods (like all my recipes) are going to maximize your healthy glow, no sun-bathing needed. In fact, this dish is brimming with beta-carotene from the sweet potatoes, a nutrient that can literally give your skin a golden hue. A study done by the University of Nottingham concluded that when shown photos of subjects with a sun-induced tan or the glow from eating more carotenoids, people prefer the carotenoid-induced skin color. Their findings were consistent across cultures and races as well. So if you want to appear healthily sun-kissed, maybe skip the sun-bathing and sunless tanning and reach for the veggies instead. Starting with these roasted sweet potato rounds. In order for your body to absorb those glowing antioxidants, research shows that you need to eat a little healthy fat (like avocados) alongside carotenoid-rich foods, making this combo the perfect beauty food!
Funny side note: Right smack dab in the middle of the photo shoot, my little taste tester (who had been sampling this recipe during the entire process) climbed onto my lap, reached across the table and started grabbing the sweet potato rounds and stuffing them in her mouth. This is a girl we have to beg to eat, and who doesn’t eat a lot of anything, not even her favorites. Well these were definitely a hit! And she used her spoon to scoop the dip and eat it like pudding! Luckily I had already got some good shots, and the ones I got of her chowing down were the best!
Coconut Sweet Potato Rounds with Creamy Avocado-Lime Dip
2 medium sweet potatoes, washed and dried, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds (no need to peel)
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, pulsed in the food processor or blender to create finer shreds
1 heaping tablespoon coconut oil
Himalayan Pink salt, to taste
cayenne pepper, optional
Avocado Lime Dip:
1 small avocado, pitted and flesh scooped out
juice of 1 small lime
1/8 tsp salt, or to taste
1-2 tablespoons full fat coconut milk, optional
1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper or rub with coconut oil. Melt the tablespoon of coconut oil and place the finely shredded coconut in a shallow bowl. Place half the rounds in a large bowl and drizzle with half of the oil. Now toss with your hands to coat the rounds, and immediately dredge them in the shredded coconut and place them on the cookie sheet. Then repeat with the remaining rounds. Doing this in two steps prevents the oil from cooling too quickly and solidifying, which makes it harder for the coconut shreds to stick. Sprinkle rounds with salt and optional cayenne. Bake for 12-15 minutes and then flip and bake for another 15 minutes or until golden.
2. While the rounds are baking, prepare your avocado dip. Place all ingredients in a mini food processor and process until smooth and creamy.
Notes: The optional coconut milk in the dip makes it extra creamy and adds even more coconutty deliciousness. Some other additions worth trying: add two tablespoons cilantro and/or a clove of garlic before pulsing for a different flavor variation.