Not all sweets are created equal, nor bad for you. Some actually pack a lot of nutritional value, like the sweet potato.

Once considered a traditional holiday casserole smothered beneath marshmallows, sweet potatoes are popular year-round from fast food chains to gourmet restaurants.

The Sweet Potato and Graham Morning Muffin took center stage at the monthly “Food & Fitness Lunch Demo” on Dec. 7 at the Armed Services YMCA-Wellness Center at 110 Mountain Lion Road.

Touting its nutritional benefits, Carey Stites, a registered dietitian at Wellstone Health Partners, said this ancient vegetable provide the kind carbohydrates that don’t induce a sugar crash.

“White potatoes’ high glycemic index means their carbohydrates are quickly converted into sugar,” said Stites, “but sweet potatoes’ glycemic index is much lower, avoiding sugar crashes and are better for diabetes control.”

One serving of a sweet potato contains a daily dose of vitamin A, more than 50-percent of vitamin C, and decent amounts of manganese, calcium, potassium and fiber while adding no fat.

The dry ingredients came first as Stites whisked them together in a large bowl: 1½ cups whole wheat flour, three-fourths cup of graham cracker crumbs, along with a teaspoon each of baking soda and baking powder with a pinch of salt.

One sweet potato, peeled and grated, was added to the mix, plus ½ cup of Spendra natural sweetener replaced real sugar, adding a sweet flavor without the calories.

The wet ingredients were mixed in a separate bowl consisting of three tablespoons of light butter, 6-ounces of plain, nonfat yogurt, and two eggs and one tablespoon honey.

A guest said she needs to always watch her cholesterol level.

“In that case, use egg whites instead, and remember two egg whites equal one egg yoke,” Stites said.

She combined all the ingredients and then spooned the batter into a muffin tin topping each with a sprinkling of graham crackers.

After 30 minutes of baking, the fresh muffins were a hit.

Kathy Kuss said she couldn’t tell the difference with the reduced sweetener.

“The muffins are delicious and would great for breakfast or brunch,” Kuss said.

Stites also discussed the ways sugar is hidden in foods, providing a handout listing more than 40 names for sugar, so it’s important to read the labels.

New FDA regulations will require labels to include the grams of added sugars, as well as the percentage of recommended daily limit that amount comprises.

“It good for you as consumers to know what’s on the labels and what’s in the food you’re eating,” she said.

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