On Joy, Hunger & A Little Orange Super Hero

Food Insecure Kids in Ethiopia

When I went in search of pictures for this post it’d been at least a month since the last time I’d so much as scrolled through the folders containing the images I captured in Ethiopia. I’d forgotten how much joy there was to be had there, how much the pictures bring me now.

Sequestration and Global Hunger

You’d never know from these smiling faces that every last child we met while on the ground was food insecure. You’d never know from sitting beside their mothers at nutrition demonstrations that — as one of them told us — while they know they and their children should be eating at least twice per day there is often only enough food for one meal in any given twenty-four hour period. And a meager one at that.

And now, knowing these things, it’s sometimes hard to fathom that these kids’ aspirations include things like, “teacher”, “doctor”, “pilot”, and in one especially heartwarming case, from a domestic worker, “to help other girls like me.” They live in a perpetual state of hunger and malnutrition, but their joy and hope for the future remains unbridled.

Something that, I suppose, is not all that different from our own kids, those who have high hopes of professional sports careers and flying to the moon even when they lack athleticism or whatever it is NASA is looking for in astronauts these days. Which is why I’m partnering with ONE and an incredible group of food bloggers today to celebrate a tiny, orange super hero: the sweet potato.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

Cheap, common, and relatively obscure, sweet potatoes don’t get their fair share of praise in the average American household. Their most prized contribution oft being to a meal where a golden-brown turkey takes the show, they’re relegated to the background, prepped on the back burner and blanketed in marshmallows before making it to the table. In the developing world however, sweet potatoes are more akin to a super food than a lowly tuber whose best scene is as a supporting side dish.

The truth is sweet potatoes are packed with nutrition and will grow almost anywhere, but tend to do especially well in the soils and climates of some of the poorest nations on earth; those where nearly 2 million children per year die due to a lack of food. This is why ONE has been working around the clock to make Sweet Potatoes the center piece of Thrive, their campaign against hunger. We know the sweet potato’s adaptability is one of the most important factors in how well it can help reduce hunger and combat the effects — fatal and otherwise — of malnutrition, because investments in agriculture are twice as effective at reducing poverty and hunger than any other investments.

If you’ve been around here long you may remember when I travelled to DC last fall to help ONE lobby our nation’s leaders in an effort to avoid the fiscal cliff. You may also remember the piece I wrote explaining why cuts to foreign aid are non-partisan and threaten the very threads that make up the cloth of both our political parties. The good news is that we were “successful” in avoiding the fiscal cliff, the bad news is that it simply became more of a large fiscal hill and we’re still rolling down the far side. The cuts, tax hikes, and other financial nasties didn’t happen all at once, but we’re still not guaranteed to avoid them altogether and once again, we’re staring down the business end of sequestration.

The position we find ourselves in today is much like the one we were in between Christmas and the New Year; if Congress fails to act within the next few days we’ll enter sequestration and across the board budget cuts will literally become a life and death matter for millions of women and children who depend on programs our government supports. Support that comes at a tune of less than 1% of our annual budget.

What Can You Do?

Sign This Petition

and then

Sign This Petition, too.

In my work with ONE I’ve learned that they command their power by leveraging a sea of voices and each and every single one matters tremendously in order to get their work done. It’s also why they never ask for your money, because while this crisis is about money, the bigger picture is about voices and lending yours is the single greatest thing you can do right now.

After that, tweet a link, either to this post or to one (or both) of the petitions above using the hashtag #sweetpotatolove. ONE, the other bloggers I’m joining today, and I will all be sweet potato loving it up all over social media today and would love to have you join us.

And last, but certainly not least? Make yourself some Sweet Potato Chili for dinner. It’s delicious. I’d deliver no less, you know.

Ready? Let’s go…

Onions for Sweet Potato Chili

First, start cooking a pound of black beans. If you don’t want to use dry, you can start by setting aside two 16 oz cans of black beans instead.

Next, dice yourself up some onions.

Ground Pork Sausage and Onions

And put them in a dutch oven or enamelware pot with one pound of pork sausage to brown. Stir it occasionally so they don’t stick or burn.

Diced Sweet Potato

Meanwhile, dice up two medium-ish sized sweet potatoes. Three-quarter inch dices work best, not too big, not too small.

Simmering Sweet Potato Chili

Once your sausage and onions are browned add your diced tomatoes, sweet potato, vegetable stock, and water to the pot. Stir well and cover. Allow to simmer until sweet potatoes are soft. Add black beans, spices, and stir well.

I actually added more red chili powder than I wrote into this recipe. Start with what I have below, which will give you a tiny bit of heat that’s balanced out against the sweet and add more if you like more bite. The nice thing about adding the spices now is that you can adjust to taste.

Sweet Potato Chili

Garnish with cilantro and serve alongside tortilla chips, avocado slices, and a dollop of sour cream. Enjoy!

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Looking for more Sweet Potato Love? Visit my partners in crime:

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Burritos from This Week for Dinner
Truffle Sweet Potato Frites from Savory Sweet Life
Sweet Potato & Chicken Sausage Stew from Chefdruck
Honey Sweet Potato Biscuits from Food for My Family
Sweet Potato Burgers from Cutie Booty Cakes
What’s Gaby Cooking and Sweet Potato Day
The Mission List and Sweet Potato Day
World Moms Blog and Sweet Potato Day
Go Graham Go and Sweet Potato Day
Cranberry Sweet Potato Crumb Cake from Barbara Bakes
Bourbon and Marshmallow Sweet Potatoes from Boston Mamas
Documama and Sweet Potato Day
Sweet Potato Bread Pudding from Eat the Love
Lamb Shanks with Sweet Potatoes and Sausage from Kitchen Gadget Girl
Sweet Potato Love To Help End World Hunger from Love That Max
Celebrating Sweet Potato Day with Mom Trends
Sweet Potato Chili from Righteous Bacon
Cooking Sweet Potatoes for Picky Eaters from Rookie Moms
Sweet Potatoes and Global Health from Third Eye Mom
Indian Spiced Sweet Potato Kielbasa ONE Skillet Bake from Tickled Red
Sweet, Dude, Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash from Helen Jane
Oh My Sweet Potato Apple Bake from Bowl Licker
Sweet Potato and Peanut Gratin from Non-Reactive Pan
Sweet Potato Fries from When You Wake Up a Mother (also found on Million Moms Challenge)

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Pork & Black Bean Sweet Potato Chili
Recipe type: Dinner
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 2 Small Cooking Onions, Diced Fine
  • 1 lb Pork Sausage
  • 2 Medium Sweet Potatoes, Cubed
  • 1 Can Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 Pint Water
  • 1 Pint Vegetable Stock
  • 1 lb Black Beans, Cooked
  • 3 tsp Red Chili Pepper Powder
  • 2 tsp Chili Powder
  • ½ tsp Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp Paprika
  1. Brown onion and sausage in dutch oven.
  2. Add sweet potatoes, tomatoes, water, vegetable stock and simmer until sweet potatoes soften, about 40 minutes.
  3. Add beans and spices to taste, continuing to simmer, stirring occasionally, 5-10 minutes until liquid thickens.
  4. Serve with cilantro, sour cream, avocado, and tortilla chips. Enjoy!


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