What Do They Eat? - Chili-Filled Sweet Potato

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I met Olivia Rae James a few summers ago floating on an inner tube down the Edisto River.  Olivia has  has an infectious smile, a glowing spirit and has become an important figure in Charleston, SC.  She has a website and blog which essentially is a gorgeous "love letter" to Charleston and beyond.  As a photographer she catches the essence of all the cities she travels to -- the light, it's inhabitants, eateries and taste makers alike.  (She shot all the beautiful photos in this post.)  

Olivia was raving about this recipe when I visited Charleston this autumn so I'm thrilled to share it with you now.  This baked sweet potato topped with bean chili is in perfect alignment with our food of the month, BEANS!   It's an easy recipe to cook up when you are craving something that will fill you up, keep you warm and leave you grounded.  I asked Olivia what inspired her to make this particular recipe and how healthy cooking has changed her life:

"Sweet potatoes and black beans are two of my favorite ingredients, so when Sara of Sprouted Kitchen posted a recipe for a chili-topped sweet potato I knew I had to recreate it. The thing I love about this dish is that it's so healthy and substantial. You definitely don't feel like you've skimped on flavor.  I make this all the time and have yet to get sick of it."

"I grew up in a super-healthy household, so I've always been aware of healthful eating. Recently I've become passionate about it.  The older I get, the more I notice the direct correlation my diet has to the way I feel -- and I want to feel good!  So eating whole foods is very important to me. I enjoy the process of cooking every day but for those who might not have time, smoothies, salads, and big batches of soup are good options. Keeping lots of fresh produce in the house also inspires me to cook (and not let the food go to waste!)."

Olivia Rae James
Chili-Filled Baked Sweet Potatoes (adapted from a Sprouted Kitchen recipe)
Serves 4

4 sweet potatoes
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bell peppers, cut into chunks
1 15 oz can black beans
1 15 oz can red kidney beans
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp cayenne (more if you like it real spicy!)
1 tsp cumin 
1/2 cup Greek yogurt (optional)
1/4 cup chives, thinly sliced

1. Pierce sweet potatoes with a fork and bake at 400 degrees for about an hour or until they feel giving to squeeze.  Remove potatoes from the oven and set aside to cool until the chili is finished.
2. For the chili: heat olive oil in a medium saute pan, add onions, garlic, and bell peppers and cook for about 10 minutes or until tender.
3. Rinse beans and add to the pan along with the tomatoes, cumin and cayenne.  Let simmer on low heat for 15 - 20 minutes.
3. Cut a slit in the top of the sweet potato, scoop chili on top. Serve with yogurt and chives. 

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