Sweet Potatoes & Asparagus or Green Beans for Thanksgiving (Part Two)

This month I am featuring foods that are diabetic friendly, that is, good for diabetics as well as good nutrition for anyone. Here is the link to Part One that I posted a couple of days ago in case you want the info on sweet potatoes.  https://www.menupause.info/archives/19756.

See excerpt below for nutritional info on asparagus and green beans.

Utensils: cutting board & knife, 2 qt. saucepan, steamer or deep pot for water and steam basket, colander with bowl for draining potatoes, serving platter or bowl.
Prep. Time: 15-20 minutes (A few minutes more if peeling sweet potatoes)
Cooking Time: approx. 20 minutes
Categories: Vegan, Gluten Free, No Sugar Added (NSA)

Ingredients (If you are making this for a crowd, double or triple the ingredients, since this recipe serves only 3 or 4 as a side dish, unless you have many side dishes, then perhaps 4 – 6.)

one large sweet potato, unpeeled if organic, cut into smallish chunks
Water or stock for cooking potatoes and steaming asparagus or green beans, enough to cover potatoes in saucepan or enough to make 1-2 inches beneath the steamer for asparagus or green beans.
12 or so spears of asparagus, depending on their size, with bottom stems trimmed by snapping spear with both hands near bottom, then cut into thirds or halves (for shorter spears) OR
2 cups of washed green beans, cut into thirds or halves, if beans are short
1-2 Tbl. macadamia, olive, or other healthful oil
Flavorings: salt and pepper to taste (optional) or Italian herbs (oregano, thyme and garlic), Za-atar (Middle Eastern mix,), Five-Spice Powder, or other herbal blend of your choice, such as Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute


  1. Place water or stock in saucepan (about 1/2 way up) and bring to a boil while preparing potatoes.
  2. Scrub potatoes well, removing any soft spots or discolorations. Cut into bite-sized chunks and add to pot, as the water or stock comes to a  boil. Lower heat to medium once water comes to a boil. Check every 5 minutes to see if they are tender enough to spear with a fork, but not mushy. Depending on how big your chunks are, you may need to cook the potatoes 10, 15, or maybe 20 minutes. Keep checking.
  3. Bring water to a bowl under a steamer in a deep pot. Wash asparagus and snap off woody ends. Cut into thirds. (Wash and cut green beans into halves or thirds.)
  4. Steam asparagus or green beans al dente. Do not overcook. You can rinse under cold water after steaming or just place in serving bowl if serving soon after cooking.
  5. Combine drained* cooked sweet potatoes. Feel free to peel when cooked, but not necessary. and asparagus or green beans in a serving bowl, toss with oil and herbal mixture of choice (See Flavorings above under ingredients.)
    Note: I save the drained cooking water from the potatoes for soup stock or cooking grains.Variations: I added sprouted lentils that I steamed with green beans or asparagus. Also feel free to add sautéed onions or leeks, or mushrooms. And if you want a crunchier dish, grill the asparagus in the oven until crispy but not burned.
Asparagus and Green Beans: Here is an excerpt from the World’s Healthiest Foods. Please go to the website and type in asparagus for the entire, interesting article: www. whfoods.com. (Bold type is my emphasis.)

Heart Health and Blood Sugar Regulation Benefits of Asparagus
(Direct Quote on Asparagus)

While we have yet to see large-scale dietary studies that examine chronic diseases in humans and asparagus intake, we would expect asparagus intake to show reduced chronic disease risk in two particular areas, namely, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. While there is some preliminary research in both areas, both areas need more attention from asparagus researchers. Our desire to see more research in these areas is based on several factors.

First is the amazing B-vitamin content of asparagus. In our food rating system, asparagus emerges as an excellent source of folic acid, vitamin B1, and vitamin B2 as well as a very good source of niacin, choline, vitamin B6, and pantothenic acid. Because B vitamins play a key role in the metabolism of sugars and starches, they are critical for healthy blood sugar management. And because they play a key role in regulation of homocysteine, they are critical in heart health has well. (Homocysteine is an amino acid, and when it reaches excessive levels in our blood, it is a strong risk factor for heart disease.)

Second, along with its impressive list of B vitamins, asparagus provides us with about 3 grams of dietary fiber per cup, including more than 1 gram of soluble fiber. Intake of soluble fiber has repeatedly been shown to lower our risk of heart disease, and our risk of type 2 diabetes can be significantly lowered as our intake of dietary fiber increases.

Finally, there is the anti-inflammatory/antioxidant factor. Heart disease and type 2 diabetes are both considered chronic diseases that evolve in relationship to chronic, excessive inflammation and oxidative stress. The outstanding antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrient composition of asparagus would seem to make it a no-brainer for inclusion as a risk reducer in both of these chronic disease areas. We expect future studies to establish asparagus as a standout for lowering our risk of cardiovascular and blood sugar problems.

Green Beans: While I did not find anything specific about diabetes and green beans, I did find that green beans are good for bone health, another imporatnt issue for post-menopausal women, which will be the subject of another posting. They are also a good source of chlorophyll (vitamin K), B vitamins, high in antioxidants (see above), low in calories, and best when steamed or not overcooked. (Same reliable source as asparagus info: www. whfoods.com.)

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