Sweet potato season

You can make the same old sweet potato and marshmallow casserole for your family. Or you can try something new, says Geo Carter of Geo Soul Restaurant in Olympia Fields.

The chef suggests Sweet Potato Bread Pudding with Soco Raisins, Sweet Potato BBQ Chicken Fries or Traditional Sweet Potato Pie with Whipped Cream Cheese Topping. Try them at home or at Geo Soul Restaurant, 3462 Vollmer Road, Olympia Fields; (708) 248-5502.

Sweet potatoes are tasty and delicious, Geo says. They are rich in complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, beta carotene (a vitamin A equivalent nutrient), vitamin C, vitamin B6, iron and calcium. Sweet potato varieties with dark orange flesh have more beta carotene than those with light colored flesh, and their increased cultivation is being encouraged in Africa, where vitamin A deficiency is a serious health problem. Despite the name "sweet", it may be a beneficial food for diabetics, as preliminary studies on animals have revealed that it helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and to lower insulin resistance Sweet potatoes are native to the tropical parts of South America, and were domesticated there at least 5000 years ago. Sweet potatoes are now cultivated throughout tropical and warm temperate regions wherever there is sufficient water to support their growth. In the U.S., North Carolina, the leading state in sweet potato production, providing more than a third of the crop. California, Louisiana, and Mississippi compete closely with each other in production.

About Geo Carter

Geo Carter, owner of Geo Soul Restaurant in Olympia Fields is a native of the South Suburbs of Chicago and a graduate of Homewood-Flossmoor High School. Geo first started cooking when she was 6 years old, cooking on her won with a few how-to's and instructions on safety from her granddad and mother. When Geo needed recipes, she turned on the TV, not for Sesame Street, but for Julia Childs.

Geo was already making scrambled eggs, egg salad and deviled eggs, but Julia Childs took her to another level she says. The youngster began making rice pilaf and crepes with the help of her dad. He also taught her how to make cakes from a box. Geo was not satisfied with just a plain box cake, she started adding her own extras.

As an adult, Geo worked at the Four Seasons hotel in Las Colinas, Texas; the experience also encouraged her interested in learning about food. She also sought the help of her grandmother who lived next door to the hotel. Her grandmother taught her about her food heritage and soul cuisine.

Geo's friends raved about her egg rolls, lasagna, tacos, gumbo, peach cobbler and banana pudding that she shared with guests in her home. Eventually, using her years of cooking, entertaining, bartending, customer service, and training at Rolex University, she opened Geo Soul.

"Geo" means "world soul," she explains. The inspiration for the restaurant was to deliver world cuisine.

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