“Hey, are you still doing that vegan thing?” It is, without a doubt, the number one question I get asked when I am out and about.

The answer is, a resounding yes! I gave up eating and drinking animal products nearly 10 months ago and have never felt better. I am down over 40 pounds and my cholesterol is well below 100 right now.

Becoming vegan has been life-changing and, to be honest, has not really been that difficult with my wife on the journey as well. Every Wednesday, I will be providing recipes that are delicious, healthy and creative for you and your family.

Whether you are vegan or not, give them a try and think outside the box when it comes to meals.

The first dish I am going to feature we actually ate before we became vegan. My five kids all love Mexican food, so we replace the chicken, pork or beef with sweet potatoes. Not only does our family love this, but we have turned many of our friends on to this recipe as well, and it has gotten rave reviews.

5 cups peeled cubed sweet potatoes

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons canola or other vegetable oil

3 1/2 cups diced onions

4 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed

1 tablespoon minced fresh green chile

4 teaspoons ground cumin

4 teaspoons ground coriander

4 1/2 cups cooked black beans (three 15-ounce cans, drained)

2/3 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon salt

8 8-inch flour tortillas

Fresh tomato salsa or jarred

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan with the salt and water to cover. Cover and bring to a boil, then simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

While the sweet potatoes are cooking, warm the oil in a medium skillet or saucepan and add the onions, garlic and chiles. Cover and cook on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender, about 7 minutes. Add the cumin and coriander and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a food processor, combine the black beans, cilantro, lemon juice, salt and cooked sweet potatoes and puree until smooth. (You can also mash the ingredients in a large bowl with a hand potato masher. The result will be a less smooth but nicely textured filling.) Transfer the sweet potato mixture to a large mixing bowl and mix in the cooked onions and spices.

Lightly oil a large baking dish. Spoon about 2/3 to 3/4 cup of the filling in the center of each tortilla, roll it up, and place it, seam side down, in the baking dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake for about 30 minutes, until piping hot. Serve topped with salsa.

Yield: Four to six servings


Jeff Peterson anchors the 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. news on WGME-TV and is a vegan.