After almost two months of holidays, it's time to get back to real-life eating: no more pies, cookies and cheeses.

After almost two months of holidays, it's time to get back to real-life eating: no more pies, cookies and cheeses.

One thing from the holidays you can eat all through the winter is sweet potatoes. They're packed with beta-carotene and other nutrients. The key is keeping them on the light side - not smothering them with sugar and topping them with marshmallows.

The following recipe works well with roast chicken or pork chops, lending color, nutrition and flavor to the plate.


Roasted sweet potatoes with simple balsamic vinaigrette
Makes 8 servings

This recipe, originally from Desperation Dinners, an occasional column that runs in the Dispatch Food section, works well throughout the winter months.

Potatoes:
nonstick cooking spray 4 pounds sweet potatoes (about 5 medium) 1 cup sweet onions, thinly sliced 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

To make potatoes: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a large roasting pan (with at least 2-inch high side) with cooking spray. Cut sweet potatoes, peel on, into 1-inch pieces. Place in pan. Toss in onion slices. Drizzle with oil. Toss to coat.

Roast until potatoes are tender and lightly browned and onions are golden brown, stirring once halfway through cooking, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, make vinaigrette: Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a small jar with a lid. Shake well to combine. Pour vinaigrette over potatoes and toss. Transfer to a dish and serve.