Sweet potatoes, not to be confused with yams, have been cultivated for thousands of years. These root vegetables are believed to have originated in Central and South America. North Carolina, which is now the largest producer of sweet potatoes in the United States, claims the sweet potato as their state vegetable.
Did you know they are considered a superfood? One of nature’s best sources of beta-carotene, a single cup provides 43 percent of our daily vitamin A needs with a modest 102 calories.
There are more than 400 varieties of sweet potatoes around the world! You are probably most familiar with the delicious, orange-fleshed variety, but there is also a beautiful purple sweet potato that is worth trying.
Don’t limit eating sweet potatoes to Thanksgiving season. They are available all year and pack a lot of health benefits.
>>Healthy Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Bring lightly salted water to a boil in a steamer with a tight fitting lid. Steam two medium-sized peeled and sliced sweet potatoes in steamer basket, covered, for about 10 minutes, or until tender. When tender, mash with potato masher, adding 1/2 teaspoon garam masala, a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, and salt and white pepper to taste.
>>Roasted Purple Sweet Potato Wedges
Fire up the oven to 400 degrees. Cut two medium purple sweet potatoes and three large carrots into one inch by two inch pieces. Chop one tablespoon each of fresh rosemary and thyme. Put potatoes, carrots, rosemary, and thyme into large bowl along with four tablespoons olive oil, one teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper. In an artistic fashion spread the purple sweet potatoes and carrots on a cookie sheet and roast until tender, about 45 minutes. Serve warm all by themselves or as a side dish.
>>Spicy Sweet Potato Chips
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Stir together two tablespoons olive oil, two tablespoons maple syrup, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Brush slices from three large sweet potatoes with the maple mixture and place onto the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Bake in preheated oven for eight minutes, then turn the potato slices over, brush with any remaining maple mixture, and continue baking until tender in the middle, and crispy on the edges, about seven minutes more.
Sweet potatoes are mainly composed of carbs. Most of the carbs come from starch, followed by fiber. This root vegetable is also relatively low in protein but still an important protein source in many developing countries. So don’t just serve them for the holidays, add them to your normal meal plan for variety and added color. They are an excellent source of beta carotene, vitamin C, and potassium. They are also a decent source of many other vitamins and minerals.