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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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