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    This holiday staple is a true treat -- year-round.

    Think sweet potatoes belong only on the Thanksgiving table? Reach for this nutritional powerhouse year-round.

    One medium-sized, baked, 141-calorie sweet potato is loaded with dietary fiber, vitamin C, 42% of the RDA of calcium, twice the RDA of vitamin A, thiamin, and the antioxidant beta carotene. It is also a great source of manganese, a trace mineral that helps keep bones strong and bloodglucose levels normal. All this and zero cholesterol, too.

    No wonder sweet potatoes have been a staple since pre-historic times in their native Central America. Christopher Columbus even brought a few back from his 1492 voyage to the New World.

    Now widely grown, this orange-hued vegetable is a true treat: It tastes good and it's good for you.

    Try this healthy, easy stew recipe, starring sweet potatoes.

    Oven Beef Stew With Sweet Potatoes

    Makes 8 servings (8 oz each)

    2 lbs lean beef stew meat, cut into bite-sized cubes (trimmed of visible fat)
    3 carrots, sliced (or 3 cups baby carrots)
    2 onions, quartered and separated
    3 medium-to-large sweet potatoes, cut into stew-sized wedges
    1 bay leaf
    1 tsp dried oregano flakes
    1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper (add more to taste)
    1/2 tsp salt (optional)
    2 1/2 cups low-sodium beef broth (add more as necessary)
    11 oz can condensed tomato bisque soup

    1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. In an oven-proof Dutch oven or large casserole pan (with lid), combine all the ingredients except the broth and soup, mixing well.

    2. In a separate bowl, blend the broth with the condensed soup and pour over the meat mixture. Cover and bake for 2 to 3 hours.

    3. Check after 2 hours to see if the meat is tender and cooked throughout. If too much liquid has evaporated, add a cup or two more of the beef broth. Stir the mixture and bake an additional 15 minutes.

    Per serving: 331 calories, 31 g protein, 33 g carbohydrate, 8 g fat (3 g saturated fat, 3.3 g monounsaturated fat, 0.8 g polyunsaturated fat), 77 mg cholesterol, 3.5 g fiber, 413 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 23%.

    More Manganese

    This mineral helps maintain the health of your nerves and cells. Other manganese-rich foods include mustard greens, collard greens, kale, chard, raspberries, pineapple, romaine lettuce, and maple syrup.

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