Garlic Potatoes/Kumara (Sweet Potato)

Serves 4
(No gluten or legumes; with options for dairy and nightshades)

The brief, unassuming ingredient list to this recipe belies the succulent result. The trapped-in steam from the initial covered phase of cooking infuses the vegetables with garlic flavour. The uncovered cooking phase then evaporates the water and leaves tender, flavourful vegetables.

Some people are sensitive to foods that are grouped under the botanical family called solanaceae, or the more common term: nightshades. These include potato, tomato, eggplant, capsicum, chilli, paprika, and cayenne. Another family member is tobacco. If you have been a smoker or lived with one this will up the likelihood of excess sensitivity to one or more of the nightshade group. The most common health complaint associated with poor tolerance to nightshades is aching joints or arthritis. From teenagers with vague aches in joints, people with discomfort due to accident or trauma, to older folk with chronic pain, if they get one of our allergy tests, this is highly likely to come up. See the TIPS page for Aches and Pains.

People may react adversely to a substance for any number of reasons (see TIPS for: Why You May Be Allergic to the 20th Century). You may be suspicious of airborne allergens – such as pollens – if you have sinus or other respiratory problems. You may be suspicious of food allergies if you have digestive complaints. But any chronic symptom can be linked to an allergic response. If the offending substance is inhaled or ingested frequently there may be no easily observable relationship between contact and health problems. The most common type of allergy is a masked or cyclical reaction. This involves a delay of up to two days from the time of intake to unpleasant consequence.

A supplement that has provided excellent results for problems with joints and bones is Bio-Disc. This practitioner-only product (available from this office) also helps skin repair, as all these body areas are made from the same type of protein – collagen – necessary for strength and flexibility. Similarly, this formula assists the all-important gut wall to be strong and less prone to excess permeability. This lessens the likelihood or severity of food sensitivities.

If you need to find options to potatoes there are many vegetables to choose from. Kumara or sweet potato can likewise be baked, mashed, steamed, or used in wedges. Other similarly starchy choices are pumpkin, taro, swede, turnip, Jerusalem artichoke, yam and carrot. To substitute any food in a recipe for any reason, consider what it provides in terms of structure, as well as flavour.

Tomato is technically a fruit (a ripened ovary with seeds) and many fruits make good alternatives. For raw uses in salads and sandwiches replace tomato with sliced, firm persimmon, pear or nectarine. Make pasta-type sauces with stewed plum (similarly used as a base in chutney) or mashed pumpkin (another fruit – and restaurant favourite with fresh sage). Both are tomato-like in being sweet, pulpy and obliging carriers for seasonings. Equipped with a good list of options, people who need to minimise intake of a common food can discover that their diets become more adventurous rather than more restricted.

Some people with low tolerance to dairy products can do well on occasional ghee or clarified butter, which has had its milk solids removed. Or use my delicious non-dairy Better Butter.

4 large potatoes (floury types such as Agria are ideal), or 4 large kumara
1 Tbsp organic butter or ghee, or Better Butter (see RECIPES)
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
60 ml (¼ cup) water or stock
1 tsp sea salt with kelp*
Extra salt and pepper

Scrub potatoes or kumara but do not peel. Slice very thinly (about 3 mm). Place the butter or oil, garlic, water and salt in a medium to large saucepan. If using butter, heat gently to melt. Remove from heat. Cover with a lid and toss thoroughly to mix every slice with the seasonings.

Oil a heavy 18 x 28 cm baking/casserole dish. Add the vegetables in a roughly overlapping layer. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover with a lid. Bake at 200ºC  (400°F) for 25 minutes. Remove lid and bake for a further 25-30 minutes until the vegetables are tender and barely crisp on top. Serve.

Shopping and Preparation Tips*

• Sea salt: is sea water dehydrated by sun. When mixed with seaweed (containing iodine and other minerals low in our soil) it is ideal in terms of flavour (interesting but not too strong) and mineral balance. Try Pacific Harvest or Malcolm Harker brands; both in health and gourmet stores. Ordinary salt is taken from mines or sea and so highly refined over extreme heat that it contains nothing but sodium chloride. All other minerals are stripped away, such as potassium and magnesium which help regulate fluid balance and blood pressure. Bleach as a whitener and chemicals to prevent clumping may be added to table salt.

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