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Monday, January 30, 2023



Sept. 30, 2001 – A friend of mine from Jamaica has a little tattered notebook that sits on the sideboard in her kitchen. It contains a treasure of hand-written recipes passed down to her by her mother, grandmother and aunts. When she let me leaf through the book on a visit the other day, a recipe for Yam and Coconut Bake caught my attention as something the whole family would enjoy.
True yams — rather than sweet potatoes, which they are commonly mistaken for — grow abundantly throughout South and Central America, the Caribbean and parts of Asia and Africa. Depending on the variety, a yam's flesh may be purple, pink, yellow or off-white in color, with its skin ranging from blackish brown to tan. Yams have a higher natural sugar and moisture content than sweet potatoes, and they provide a fair source of vitamins A and C, the mineral potassium and dietary fiber.
At the market or store, select yams that are unblemished with tight unwrinkled skins. Store them in a cool, dark, dry place, but not in the refrigerator. They can stay good for a few weeks.
In the recipe that follows, the banana, orange juice and coconut all complement the sweet flavor of the yam, while the pecans add some crunch to the dish. Delicious served hot or cold, this recipe yields a dish that travels well and is a good one to take for picnics and potluck parties.
Yam and Coconut Bake
1 large yam or 2 small yams
1 ripe banana
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons chopped pecans
2 tablespoons flaked coconut
Wash the yam(s) well. Cut vertically into 1-inch thick ovals, place into a saucepan and cover with water. Bring water to a boil. Cook until yams are fork tender. Drain water. Let yams cool, and then peel. Spray a 1-quart casserole dish with nonstick coating. Place yams evenly in the bottom of the dish. Slice banana and layer slices over the yam. Stir together orange juice, salt and pepper. Pour this mixture over the yam and banana. Sprinkle brown sugar, pecans and coconut over top. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 to 30 minutes, until coconut is toasty brown. Serves 4.
Nutrition per serving: 170 calories, 3 gms fat (17 percent fat calories), no cholesterol, 215 mg sodium.

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