The HarvestPlus team in Uganda celebrates a year of disseminating vitamin A orange sweet potato

Orange sweet potato pie is a Thanksgiving classic, marking the beginning of the holiday season with its earthy, sweet aroma. Chefs and food enthusiasts do come up with a little maple syrup, some cinnamon—maybe even, toasted coconuts and pecans—to make it a little spicier or sweeter. But sweet potato, one of the oldest roots known, remains a staple of the tradition.

Although less obvious to the casual observer, the sweet potato’s orange hue thrills public health experts when they see it on the dinner table, because it indicates the high beta carotene content in this root. Beta-carotene is converted by the body into vitamin A.

Sweet potato also supplies many other vitamins (B6, C) and minerals such as potassium and magnesium. Many put this nutrient-rich crop in the category of “super foods,” because it can help a person maintain good eyesight, skin, teeth, and skeletal tissues and can also help the immune system fight off infectious diseases.

No wonder public health experts are excited about the crop globally. It has great potential as a source of vitamin A in African countries where many children do not get enough vitamin A in their diets.

Sweet potato is actually a staple crop in many African countries. But the varieties typically grown and eaten in these countries are white and yellow ones, which provide little to no vitamin A.

In 2007, HarvestPlus and its partners launched a unique project to provide orange sweet potato (OSP) to 24,000 farming households in Mozambique and Uganda. More than 60 percent of Ugandan households adopted vitamin A–rich OSP to grow on their farms and feed to their families. Results published in top nutrition journals showed that orange sweet potato was a significant source of vitamin A for malnourished children and women in Mozambique and Uganda.

Kudos, Orange Sweet Potato !
Well – this is Thanksgiving week in the U.S. Granted we do not have access to President Barack Obama’s favorite sweet potato pie recipe to share or the recipe for former President George W. Bush’s favorite sweet potato puree, which he is known to relish. But toeing the line of U.S. Presidents, and in celebration of the orange sweet potato’s nutritional value, we have for you some unique recipes for sweet potato delicacies from Mozambique and Uganda. Enjoy the holidays with good health!

Golden Bread: Pao De Ouro (Mozambique)

Recipe for 44 small breads
3 cups or 950 grams of boiled and mashed orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (cooked and peeled before mashing); 1.5 kgs wheat flour (you will need some extra flour for kneading process); 2 level match boxes or 2 tablespoons of yeast; ½ teaspoon of improver (product sold especially for bread making) optional; ¼ teaspoon of salt (minimize the use of salt as it makes the bread rise less); 1 liter of water approximately (for kneading).

(1) Begin warming the oven (180º Centigrade) or light the charcoal in charcoal oven.
(2) Wash 5 medium size (225 grams each) of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes and cook them in boiling water. Peel and mash.
(3) Mix together wheat flour, yeast, improver and salt. Add the mashed sweet potato to the flour mixture and mix again.
(4) Add half the water and knead well for 5-10 minutes.
Continue adding water little by little, continuing to knead, until the mass does not stick to your hands. Make the bread into buns of the size you want. It is neither necessary nor desired to let the mass rise before making into buns.
(5) Cover the buns with a cloth and leave to rise for 25 minutes in a warm place such as in direct sunlight outside.
(6) Put a small amount of wheat flour on the base of the sheet where the breads will be baked before placing the raw buns on top.
(7) Cook in a hot oven (180º Centigrade).

Sweet Potato Doughnuts (Uganda)

2 tumpeco mashed sweet potato, 4 tumpeco (all-purpose) baking flour, 4 teaspoons baking powder, 4 dessert spoons sugar, salt, 4 dessert spoons of heated oil, lemon rind and juice, cooking oil.
NOTE: (“Tumpeco” is a typical cup for Uganda – 1 tumpeco is equivalent to half a liter cup or 16.5 oz.)

(1) Boil sweet potatoes and mash. Mix flour with the mashed sweet potatoes until done well, and then add baking powder.
(2) Add the sugar, heated oil, lemon rind, and juice into the mixture.
(3) Add water gradually and knead the dough well.
(4) Cover the dough with a cloth and put out in the sun for 15 to 20 minutes (Helps the dough rise faster).
(5) Roll on a board and cut into round shapes using a cup or glass as cutter. Put a hole in the middle using a finger or soda bottle.
(6) Deep fry to golden brown.
(7) Remove from pan and cool before serving.

Sweet Potato Chapatti (Uganda)

1 cup mashed orange sweet potato, 2 cups wheat flour, 2 teaspoons salt, water, cooking oil

(1) Boil and mash the sweet potatoes.
(2) Add salt,mashed sweet potatoes and oil to the flour and make a dough, adding small amount of water gradually until the dough does not stick on hands or spoon.
(3) Pick small pieces of dough and roll on a board.
(4) Fry the chapatti on one side and turn until they are golden brown.
(5) Serve with tea or sauce.