7 Things You Need to Know About Sweet Potatoes

It’s holiday season, and that means it’s time to enjoy sweet potatoes!  Here are some things you need to know about this pot luck favorite:

Sweet potatoes are only distantly related to white potatoes. They originate from Central and South America and grow well in warm, tropical climates. Some varieties grow well here in North Texas, too. Yams are not related to sweet potatoes and are native to Africa and Asia.

Their colors vary. Common types may range in color from pale yellow to deep reddish orange. What is often called a “yam” is actually a darker variety of sweet potato. Purple sweet potatoes have more antioxidants than blueberries!

Sweet potatoes are packed with nutrition. They are a good source of fiber, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin B-6 and most of all, vitamin A. In fact, a serving contains several times the daily value for vitamin A.  The darker the color, the more vitamin A it contains.  Be sure to eat the skin to get all the healthy fiber.

The greens of a sweet potato are edible, too. They can be cooked like spinach and are also rich in vitamin A and potassium.

Canned sweet potatoes may contain a lot of added sugar. One 2/3 cup portion may contain over 4 teaspoons of added sugar. Sweet potatoes have a sweet taste on their own, which can be enhanced by roasting or adding a touch of cinnamon.

They are easily bruised. Store them in a cool, dark place but do not refrigerate. This makes them starchy and affects the flavor.

Like white potatoes, sweet potatoes are extremely versatile. Prepare sweet potatoes using any method you use to cook regular potatoes. They can be mashed, cut into fries, grated for hash browns or roasted whole.

Enjoy your nutritious sweet potatoes using healthy recipes that will also please your family.  Bring this tasty dish from Cooking Light to your next get-together:

Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Yield: 6
Serving size: 1/2 cup

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes
1 (5-oz.) can evaporated low-fat milk
2 tablespoons maple syrup
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preparation:

Wash sweet potatoes.  Peel and cut into chunks.
Place sweet potato in a large saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil; cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and return to pan; add evaporated milk, maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Mash with a potato masher to desired consistency. Drizzle with melted butter.