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National Cook A Sweet Potato Day!

Today we celebrate one of my favorite root vegetables, the Sweet Potato.  This day is observed annually on February 22nd.

Sweet potato is a plant that belongs to the bindweed or morning glory family.  It is a large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous root vegetable.  Sweet potato is often called “yam” in part so of North America but is botanically very distinct from the botanical yams.

Although the sweet potato is not closely related botanically to the common potato, they have a shared etymology. The first Europeans to taste sweet potatoes were members of Christopher Columbus’s expedition in 1492. Later explorers found many cultivars under an assortment of local names, but the name which stayed was the indigenous Taino name of batata. The Spanish combined this with the Quechua word for potato, papa, to create the word patata for the common potato.

Sweet potatoes were first introduced to the Philippines during the Spanish colonial period (1521-1598) via the Manila galleons, along with other New World crops.  It was introduced to the Fujian province of China in about 1594 from Luzon, in response to major crop failure. The growing of sweet potatoes was encouraged by the Governor Chin Hsüeh-Tseng (Jin Xuezeng).

Sweet potato is an excellent source of Vitamin A, which supports the good vision, our immune system, and bone growth.  It is also a good source of fiber, vitamin B6, magnesium and vitamin C.  And since it is high in fiber, sweet potato is commonly eaten by people trying to lose weight because it doesn’t have too much of the starch.  It has a low calorie and has a very high amount of water, which is good for weight loss.  The combination of high fiber and a high amount of water helps in aiding weight loss because it makes you feel full longer, preventing you from overeating.

So, today head to your supermarket and grab some sweet potato.  Cook dinner with some sweet potato as a side like fries, just don’t cook it in heavy oil like regular fries, maybe use the Air Fryer instead.  Share on social media your recipe for sweet potato using #CookSweetPotatoDay.

1732 George Washington is born

On February 22, 1732, George Washington is born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, the first of six children of Augustine and Mary Ball Washington. (Augustine had three additional children from his first marriage.) An initially loyal British subject, Washington eventually led the Continental Army in the American Revolution and became the new nation’s first president. He is often referred to as the father of the United States.

Washington rose to eminence on his own merit. His first job at age 17 was as a surveyor in the Shenandoah Valley. In 1752, he joined the British army and served as a lieutenant in the French and Indian War. When the war ended, Washington left the army and returned home to Virginia to manage Mount Vernon, the plantation he had recently inherited upon the death of his older brother. He married a wealthy widow, Martha Dandridge Custis, in 1759. Although the couple had no children, Washington adopted Martha’s son and daughter from her previous marriage. While in Virginia, Washington served in the colonial House of Burgesses and, like many of his compatriots, grew increasingly frustrated with the British government. He soon joined his co-revolutionaries in the Continental Congress.

In 1775, the Continental Congress unanimously chose Washington to command the new Continental Army. In addition to advocating civilian control over the military, Washington possessed that intangible quality of a born leader and had earned a reputation for coolness under fire and as a strict disciplinarian during the French and Indian campaigns. In that war, he dodged bullets, had horses shot out from under him and was even taken prisoner by the French. Part of his success in the Revolutionary War was due to his shrewd use of what was then considered the ungentlemanly, but effective, tactic of guerrilla warfare, in which stealthy hit-and-run attacks foiled British armies used to close-formation battle-line warfare. Although Washington led almost as many losing battles as he won, his successes at Trenton, Princeton and Yorktown proved pivotal for the Continental Army and the emerging nation. In 1789, in part because of the leadership skills he displayed during the war, the Continental Congress elected Washington as the first American president.

(excerpted from https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/george-washington-is-born)