The reason being is that I have developed a marketing strategy that is going to help my friends who are smokers live longer: Package every pack of cigarettes with a sweet potato. Everyone who buys a pack of smokes gets a free sweet potato!
Why? Smoking (or inhaling second-hand smoke) depletes the body of vitamin A. Low levels of vitamin A are linked to emphysema of the lungs and several types of cancer, including that of the lung and heart. Sweet potatoes are high in beta carotene, which the liver converts to vitamin A. So if you breathe in a lot of smoke, your lungs will be in better shape if you can replenish your body with copious vitamin A. Read more if you don’t believe me.
As if this
Are you ready for more?
The beta carotenes in sweet potatoes make these root vegetables a high souce of antioxidants, which boost the immune system.
Should I keep going?
A food containing anti-inflammatory nutrients, sweet potatoes are also very healthy for those with asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
Wait! There’s more!
It hasn’t been proven yet, but there are studies being done that are exploring the effects of sweet potato on people with diabetes. It is hypothesized that sweet potatoes help stabilize blood sugar levels and lower insulin resistance.
Enabling my smoker friends (as well as smokers around the world) to live longer is Plan A for reaching sainthood status. If it doesn’t work, fear not, I have a back-up plan:
I will write a catchy, rhyming song to promote the new packaged deal. The melody will ring through the ears of the nation, and everyone will want to sing along, and then the whole country will be singing the same song all at once and it will be so inspiring that all my smoker friends will want to live longer so that they can keep singing the song forever and ever, so then they will all quit smoking and proclaim me a saint. I also hope that they will all give me a percentage of what they would have spent on cigarettes for the rest of their lives, and then I will be a rich saint, because those are the best kind.
Coconut-Braised Short Ribs and Sweet Potatoes
(because beef is better for you than smoking)
~a Fancy Toast original recipe
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 lb. short ribs, bone-in
1 large onion, chopped coarsely
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons ginger, chopped or grated
1 stick lemongrass, cut lengthwise and smashed with the end of a knife
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 15 oz. cans coconut milk (you can use low-fat if you like)
1/2 cup orange juice
2 cups chicken broth
1 handful cilantro stems, bundled together in cheesecloth or in a teaball
3 sweet potatoes, cut into 1” cubes
1 handful of cilantro leaves
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 300 degrees Farenheit.
Pat the short ribs dry with a paper towel. Rub salt and pepper into all sides of the meat.
In a Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Brown the short ribs, taking care not to crowd the ribs or else they will not brown properly. Do in 2 batches if necessary.
Remove the ribs from the heat and set aside (the lid of the Dutch oven works perfectly for this…it’s going to get dirty anyway, right?)
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the onions and let soften for a few minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and pepper, and cook until the garlic is fragrant.
Place the short ribs and any accumulated juices back in the Dutch oven, nestling them in one layer, if possible. Add the coconut milk and the orange juice. Add the chicken broth, until the broth is just barely covering the meat. If you don’t use all of the chicken broth, that’s fine. If you need more liquid, add more chicken broth or water.
Place the cilantro stems into the broth.
Cover the Dutch oven and place in the oven. After ten minutes, check the liquid and make sure that it is not bubbling too aggressively. If it is at more than a gentle simmer, turn the heat down.
Cook for thirty minutes. Add the sweet potatoes and cook for about another hour, until the meat and the potatoes are tender.
Remove the cilantro stems from the broth, ladle into individual bowls, and garnish with cilantro leaves.