Although sweet potatoes don’t spend nearly as much time on the average American plate as their paler cousins, they deserve a second look. Packed with nutrition, this traditional Thanksgiving food is a great choice any time of year.
With a yellow to orange colored flesh, sweet potatoes are often confused with yams; in fact, many people believe they are the same thing. They actually differ, with true yams being a little more rare in American supermarkets. Most of what people serve as yams are actually sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes have a sweeter, moister flesh than that of the yam, which is not actually grown in the United States, but is imported from Caribbean countries. Yams don’t have the same nutritional value as sweet potatoes, so you are better off with the more common version.
Although traditional sweet potato pies and casseroles are often seen at a Thanksgiving feast, there is a lot more that can be done with this healthy root vegetable.
The Nutrition in Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are full of Vitamin A, providing an incredible amount in every serving. They are also high in Vitamin C and B6 as well as a good source of dietary fiber, iron, and potassium.
Sweet potatoes are also a source of antioxidants that are known to fight all kinds of diseases including cancer. Low in calories and fat, sweet potatoes offer a whole lot of nutrition for the small bite they take out of your daily calorie intake.
Cooking with Sweet Potatoes
You have probably heard of sweet potato pie, and may also have encountered a sweet potato casserole or two, but those two options barely scratch the surface of the sweet potato’s culinary usefulness. Good with the same spices you would use to cook pumpkin, such as nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves, sweet potatoes make delicious desserts. They can be added to all kinds of batters, including pancakes and waffles and baked into cookies, quick breads, and muffins.
Sweet potatoes also have plenty of savory applications. For starters, you can replace your same old French fries with sweet potato fries for a burst of color, and extra kick of nutrition, and an entirely new flavor. The sweet potato can also be prepared in many other ways you might serve regular potatoes, from mashed to roasted. They can even be baked whole and served with just a little butter for an easy and delicious side dish.
Although it’s less popular than pumpkin pie, at least in most of the country, sweet potato pie is a delicious treat that packs a powerful nutritious punch along with the sweetness. Sweet potatoes are also often paired with pecans in a pie, and don’t require as much sugar to sweeten the mix as the less sweet pumpkin does. Instead of adding more refined sugar, the sweet potato makes use of natural sweetness.
Like pumpkin, cooked sweet potatoes can be frozen for later use, which is more economical than buying canned. They can later be thawed for use in a variety of recipes.
Bring the sweet potato into your regular menu for a tasty, nutritious and economical side dish, or even a sweet treat. You might find your kids like it even more than the regular potatoes they usually eat. With a burst of color and a sweeter flavor, they are sure to become family favorites.