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Sweet Potato Bean Tots with Pineapple Tomato Salsa

Article written and reviewed by Cyrus Khambatta, PhD and Robby Barbaro, MPH
Published July 15, 2022

These sweet potato and black bean tots are a healthy snack or meal that pairs well with a fresh pineapple tomato salsa. Piled on top of a bed of baby spinach gives this tasty meal an extra punch of vitamins and nutrients that every plant-based diet can use.

Enjoy More Meals with Sweet Potato!

Sometimes, even as an adult, we look for those comfort foods that we enjoyed as a child. This recipe gives you that feel-good food, but in a plant-based and healthier way. The homemade pineapple tomato salsa gives it an extra burst of flavor and fresh fruit!

Why Sweet Potatoes Are A Great Main Ingredient

Sweet potatoes are sweet, starchy root vegetables that are grown worldwide. They come in a variety of sizes and colors — including orange, white, and purple — and are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Not to mention, they provide a number of health benefits and are easy to add to your diet.

Just one sweet potato gives you 400% of the RDA for vitamin A. This helps keep your eyes healthy as well as your immune system, your body's defense against germs. It's also good for your reproductive system and organs like your heart and kidneys. 

Even better, one sweet potato has about 4 grams of plant-based fiber, which helps you maintain a healthy weight and lowers risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol.

Don’t Forget the Leafy Greens

Spinach contains protective steroids called phytoecdysteroids, which increase glucose metabolism and help to keep blood glucose levels stable. This is extremely beneficial for people with all forms of diabetes, because spinach can blunt blood glucose spikes during the beginning of your transition to eating more carbohydrate-rich food. It also minimizes the requirement for insulin. 

Spinach nutrition also contains a good amount of fiber in each serving, which can help slow the absorption of glucose into your bloodstream in order to keep blood glucose levels steady.

Why Sweet Potato Instead of White Potato?

They may both be called potatoes, but sweet and regular white potatoes are not related. Botanically, the sweet potato belongs to the bindweed or morning glory family, whereas the white potato sits in the nightshade family. Though they can both be part of a healthy diet, sweet potatoes are generally healthier than regular potatoes, partly because of their incredibly high vitamin A content. 

Despite the popularity of ultra-low-carbohydrate diets, our bodies benefit from carbohydrate energy because glucose is the preferred fuel for most tissues. But, while they’re all broken down into glucose in the end, not all carbohydrates are created equal when it comes to their effect on blood glucose. 

Sweet potatoes have something called complex carbohydrates, which means they take longer for your digestive system to digest and absorb, leading to a reduced blood glucose rise as well as more sustained energy. 

On average, according to the USDA one medium sweet potato contains:

  • 112 calories

  • 438 mg potassium

  • 3.9 grams of fiber

  • 5 g sugar

  • 2 g protein

Minerals are just as essential as vitamins, and that same medium-sized sweet potato provides 25% of the daily value of manganese, 20% of the daily value of copper, and 12% of the daily value of potassium. Getting enough manganese is important for promoting bone health and regulating blood glucose, copper helps with a variety of functions such as making new red blood cells, and potassium is essential for optimizing nerve function.

Buying Tips

Sweet potatoes are available year-round and are at their peak during the winter. When choosing sweet potatoes, have in mind what you are going to use them for. Larger ones tend to have a more stringy texture and take longer to cook because of their size. Small sweet potatoes have a more uniform texture but contain less meat. Avoid any with bruises or signs of sprouting. 

Some common traits of bad sweet potatoes are discoloration and growths through the skin. They will begin to get soft and wet (water will leak out) and then turn brown and/or black. If part of the sweet potato goes bad, the whole potato should be thrown out, as the flavor is affected.

You can also look for frozen sweet potato cubes, which are already peeled and diced, making it easy to add to various recipes. Pre-bagged sweet potatoes may be a better buy than individual pieces.

Storing Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes stay fresh longest in a cool or room-temperature location, away from moisture, heat, and light. As long as the location is cool, dry, and dark, sweet potatoes will last up a month or longer. 

If you've already peeled a sweet potato and want to save it for later, you can store it in the fridge. In this case, you can store it tightly wrapped or in an airtight container in the fridge. Use it as soon as possible—within 2 to 3 days is best. 

Sweet Potato Bean Tots with Pineapple Tomato Salsa

Beverly Verwey
These sweet potato and black bean tots are a healthy snack or meal that pairs well with a fresh pineapple tomato salsa. Piled on top of a bed of baby spinach gives this tasty meal an extra punch of vitamins and nutrients that every plant-based diet can use.
Course Dinner, Lunch, Side Dish
Servings 2
Calories 449 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 1 cup canned, low-sodium black beans rinsed & dried
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 medium onion chopped & divided
  • 1 tbsp nutiritional yeast
  • 2 cups canned, low-sodium diced tomatoes drained
  • 2 green onions chopped
  • 1 cup pineapples
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 2 slices 1/2" pineapple

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to Bake at 400°F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat.
  • Bake the sweet potato in the oven for 30 minutes or until cooked. Once cooked, let cool to handle and scoop out the potato. Set aside.*
  • Sauté the onion, in a little amount of water or low-sodium broth, over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or under soft.
  • In a large bowl, mash together the potato, beans, cumin, black pepper, garlic powder, sautéed onion, and nutritional yeast. Form the mixture into small tots and place on the prepared baking sheet. (Makes 14 to 16). Bake for 30 minutes.
  • In a food processor, pulse the drained tomatoes, green onions, and pineapple chunks a few times so that the salsa is chunky.
  • Serve the tots on a bed of baby spinach and slice of pineapple along with the pineapple tomato salsa

Notes

*Alternately, you can peel the sweet potato and steam it in a steamer until soft. Once cooked, mash the potato and set aside. Add your favorite spice to the tot mixture.

Nutrition

Calories: 449kcalCarbohydrates: 72.7gProtein: 21.6gFat: 1.8gSodium: 286.1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

About the author 

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD and Robby Barbaro, MPH

Cyrus Khambatta, PhD, and Robby Barbaro, MPH are the coauthors of the New York Times bestselling book Mastering Diabetes: The Revolutionary Method to Reverse Insulin Resistance Permanently in Type 1, Type 1.5, Type 2, Prediabetes, and Gestational Diabetes. They are the cofounders of Mastering Diabetes, a coaching platform that teaches people how to reverse insulin resistance via low-fat, plant-based, whole-food nutrition. Cyrus has been living with type 1 diabetes since 2002, and has an undergraduate degree from Stanford University and a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from UC Berkeley. Robby was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2000, and has been living a plant-based lifestyle since 2006. He worked at Forks Over Knives for 6 years, and earned a Master’s in Public Health in 2019.