Marcelle enjoys preparing delicious meals for family and friends. She especially loves creating original, plant-based, vegan recipes.
Break away from the traditional meat-laden, sodium-rich enchilada recipes for this vegetarian winner! Sweet potatoes pair with black beans, seasonings, and an easy-to-make, low-sodium enchilada sauce for this classic Mexican dish. It’s colorful, fragrant, and delicious!
Sweet Potato or Yam?
Yams and sweet potatoes are simply not the same. Though they can be easily interchanged in recipes, they belong to separate plant families, and their nutritional profile is different. Both provide a healthy dose of vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, and other nutrients, but unlike sweet potatoes, yams provide only a trace of vitamin A and are lower in fiber.
So how do you know what’s what at the grocery store? Labeling in U.S. grocery stores can sometimes be confusing. Often what is labeled a yam is actually a sweet potato. Yams are not grown in the U.S., so it is rare to find a true yam in a typical U.S. grocery store. To find true yams in the U.S., you would likely need to visit a specialty grocery store or international market.
A Healthy Sweet
How can something that tastes so deliciously sweet be a nutrition superstar? Sweet potatoes are among the most nutritious vegetables you can add to your diet, according to a vegetable rating study by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy organization.1
The orange flesh provides an excellent source of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, providing more than 200% of the daily value required in one medium sweet potato. This vegetable is also a very good source of vitamin C, manganese, copper, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6, and it's a good source of potassium, fiber, and other B vitamins.
Anthocyanin and other color pigment antioxidants found in sweet potatoes have been shown to provide anti-inflammatory benefits. According to a study abstract published by the US National Institutes of Health, anthocyanin is suggested to possess anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic activity, cardiovascular disease prevention, obesity control, and diabetes alleviation properties.2
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas Recipe
Light on calories and sodium but heavy on flavor, this enchilada recipe is sure to please! Be sure to check the labels of the different brands of corn tortillas as the sodium can vary quite a bit. Also, consider making your own homemade enchilada sauce to avoid the sodium in store-bought brands; a recipe is provided at the bottom of the article.
How to Microwave a Sweet Potato
You can cook the sweet potatoes in the microwave beforehand.
- Wash and scrub the sweet potato, poke holes with a fork all around, and place on a microwave-safe plate or paper towel.
- Cook in the microwave for 5 to 8 minutes, rotating halfway through.
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
- 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added organic black beans, rinsed and drained
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- Fresh juice from 1 lime
- 1/2 cup green onions, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon sodium-free chili powder (try Frontier brand)
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
- 2 cups cooked sweet potatoes, slightly mashed
- 1 1/2 cups Easy Low-Sodium Enchilada Sauce (see recipe below)
- 8–9 corn tortillas
- 1/2 cup organic shredded Monterey Jack or a Mexican blend cheese, or sub dairy-free cheese (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Combine drained black beans with the garlic, lime juice, green onions and spices in a bowl.
- In a separate bowl, slightly mash the cooked sweet potato.
- Pour about 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 3-quart rectangular baking dish.
- Place 1–2 tortillas between 2 paper towels and warm in the microwave for 15 to 20 seconds.
- Spoon about 1/8 of mashed sweet potatoes down the center of a warmed tortilla. Top with 1/8 of the bean mixture. Wrap and roll the tortilla and carefully place seam side down in the sauced baking dish. Repeat with each tortilla.
- Pour the remainder of the sauce on top and sprinkle with the cheese. For a vegan version, leave off the cheese or use a plant-based cheese.
- Bake at 350°F for 20 to 25 minutes, until the enchiladas are hot and the sauce is bubbling around the edges.
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Sodium in Enchilada Sauce
Before running out to purchase a processed can of enchilada sauce, consider making your own at home (recipe below). It is fast and easy to make, and you will reduce the sodium significantly in most cases. Be sure to purchase tomato sauce that is labeled “no-salt-added” or a brand that is naturally low in sodium, such as Pomi. You can find this brand in most whole food grocers, Target, and online. As always, check labels. The table below shows sodium content in some commonly store-bought brands.
Comparing Sodium in Enchilada Sauces
|Brand||Sodium Per Serving|
Old El Paso Enchilada Sauce, Mild
La Victoria Enchilada Sauce, Mild
Las Palmas Original Style Enchilada Sauce
Pace Enchilada Sauce
Hatch Red Enchilada Sauce
Easy Enchilada Sauce Recipe
This sauce takes no time to make and will reduce the sodium content of the sweet potato and black bean enchilada meal. You can spice it up or down depending on your taste. Use this sauce for all your enchilada recipes!
I highly recommend using Pomi brand tomato sauce. The flavor easily surpasses other tomato sauce brands available on grocer shelves. Another bonus is that each half cup serving only has 10mg of sodium, keeping this enchilada sauce recipe low in sodium. You can purchase this brand at some whole food grocers or online.
- 16 ounces no-salt-added tomato sauce (try Pomi brand)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon sodium-free chili powder (try Frontier brand)
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- Mix and heat through.
1 Liebman, Bonnie, and Jayne Hurley. "Rating Rutabagas: Not All Vegetables Are Created Equal." Nutrition Action Health Letter (2009): n. pag. The Center for Science in the Public Interest. Jan. 2009. Web. https://www.cspinet.org/nah/01_09/ratings.pdf.
2 He J, Guisti MM. "Anthocyanins: Natural Colorants with Health-Promoting Properties." Annual Revew Food Science Technology. 2010;1:163-87. Doi:10.1146/annurev.food.080708.100754. Review. PMID: 22129334 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22129334.
© 2014 Marcelle Bell