The kitchen is my happy place, which is a good thing, because I spend a lot of time in it. It seems I’m always either developing recipes, or cooking them for a camera. And then there’s the not-so-small matter of cooking for my husband and four daughters every day. Truly, I love it.

But today I’m sharing with you what I make when I’m alone; cooking for one. When I’m by myself, I like something easy to make and comforting, without being junky. I turn to one of my favorite ingredients.

Sweet potatoes are full of vitamins, especially A and C, and minerals, and have filling fiber and a couple of grams of protein per medium 95-calorie spud. Before you panic about all the sugars in the sweet potato – it’s right there in the title – relax a little, because that full potato has about 7 grams of sugar. And, I’m going to make both a dinner and a dessert out of one, so I think those numbers make sense for the sweet tooth it will satisfy.

Once it’s cooked, slice in half, cut a slit down the center of each half, and top with just the tiniest bit of coconut oil or butter, which will melt beautifully into the hot potato flesh. (You can skip this part if you are watching fat intake, but even a smidge of coconut oil adds a ton of flavor.)

Sprinkle one half with cinnamon and top with fresh fruit and chopped nuts or seeds. Add a drizzle of maple syrup if you are feeling fancy.

Sprinkle the other half with a little spice, like chipotle powder, cumin and hot paprika, or curry powder. And then top with drained canned beans, lentils, chopped leftover chicken or shrimp and something crunchy like pepitas or cashews.


Servings: 1

1 medium orange sweet potato

1 teaspoon coconut oil, divided


1/4 teaspoon curry powder

1/4 teaspoon paprika

3 tablespoons cooked black beans, rinsed and drained

1 tablespoon chopped cashews

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1/2 cup baby spinach or other greens

Juice of 1/4 lime

Pinch of kosher salt


1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 medium banana, sliced

1 tablespoon sliced almonds

1 teaspoons maple syrup

Pinch kosher salt

Juice of 1/4 lime

Prick the potato skin 3 or 4 times with a fork and bake until tender, about 50 minutes at 350 F. (Or microwave until tender, about 8 minutes, turning over halfway through cooking.) Slice the sweet potato in half lengthwise, and cut a slit in each half.

Divide the coconut oil between the two potatoes and allow to melt into the flesh.

Sprinkle the savory potato with the curry and paprika, and top with beans, cashews, cilantro and salt. Place on top of the spinach and squeeze lime juice over the whole thing.

For the dessert potato: sprinkle with cinnamon and top with banana slices, almonds, maple syrup, salt and lime juice.

Optional: if the oven is still hot, place the dessert potato in the oven for 5 minutes, just to caramelize the bananas a little.

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