When we hear this, the next obvious question is "have you had them other than at Thanksgiving with marshmallows and brown sugar?"
The reality is there are endless spectacular ways to prepare and enjoy sweet potatoes! We want to help you discover all these possibilities! And, if you are already a sweet potato connoisseur, we hope to give you some new ideas!
So, you guessed it...the Superfood of the month for February is...sweet potatoes!
Remember, the Superfood Challenge is to try sweet potatoes at least four different ways and decide which are "keepers" and which are "sleepers!" You will likely discover some new and delicious ways to love this sweet and savory spud!
Why potatoes can be misunderstood...
In general, potatoes sometimes get a bad rap because they are most commonly served as French fries, tater tots or chips…after all, most of the potatoes produced in North America have a date with the deep fryer! When they are not fried, they are often loaded up with butter, sour cream, bacon and cheese (or, for the sweet potato, with marshmallows, butter and brown sugar). Obviously, in these forms, potatoes are not the epitome of health! But, when eaten in their original form and prepared in a great-tasting, healthful way, they can actually be very good for you!
Sweet potatoes are super healthy!
Sweet potatoes are fat free, low in sodium and contain a ton of beneficial vitamins and nutrients. They are a Vitamin A powerhouse, providing 400% of your daily requirement! They are also one of the best sources of beta-carotene, which is a powerful antioxidant and helps reduce the risk of disease including certain forms of cancer. To get the full benefit of the beta-carotene, it is best to add a little fat to your sweet potato meal...even just 1 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil will help your body absorb the antioxidants!
Sweet potatoes also contain fiber, which helps control hunger, lowers blood cholesterol levels and keeps things regular (if you know what we mean!). Sweet potatoes actually have slightly more fiber than white potatoes.
Potatoes in general are often associated with being high-carb and high on the glycemic index. With the low-carb diets that have been popular over the past few years, people have been told to stay away from potatoes because of their carb load. However, we all know that unprocessed or minimally processed carbs are important for our optimal health.
Potatoes are also perceived to cause a spike in blood sugar and a surge in insulin. What is fascinating about sweet potatoes is they can actually help regulate blood sugar levels. This is because of the fiber and other nutrients that help steady the pace of digestion and release sugar slowly into the bloodstream (vs. the spike that many fear). Eating potatoes with proteins and healthy fats will also reduce the glycemic load of your meal.
Try finding different varieties! There are over 4,000 varieties of potatoes produced today. Sweet potatoes can sometimes be found in white, yellow and purple varieties. Get creative and experiment with different kinds!
What is the difference between a yam and a sweet potato?
We often see "yams" at the store alongside the sweet potatoes, but typically those are not truly yams - they are simply another variety of sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes can come in two forms, soft and firm, and in our U.S. grocery stores, the soft form is what is typically considered to be a "yam." True yams have a black/brown bark-like skin and a white, purple or red inside flesh, and are often only found at specialty stores. Yams also tend to be starchier and drier than sweet potatoes.
What Eat REAL America members say...after introducing members to new ways to enjoy sweet potatoes, they usually sing the vegetable's praises. Here are just a few examples:
"I always thought sweet potatoes were sweet and I didn't like them -- now I love them and eat them all the time!"
"Stuffed sweet potatoes have truly been a life changer for our family!"
We love stuffed sweet potatoes...they are great-tasting, quick & easy, and of course, good for you too! They are also so easy to customize to whatever type of cuisine you are craving! Check out all the great-tasting recipes on Eat REAL America using sweet potatoes. Some of our favorites include:
- Southwest Stuffed Sweet Potato
- Loaded Mexican Sweet Potato Fries
- Sweet Potato Quesadillas
- Sweet Potato Kale Frittata
- Grilled Sweet Potato Salad
- Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas
- Sloppy Joes (use sweet potato or butternut squash)
- Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chicken Chili
- Sweet Potato Hash with EOT (Egg on Top)
- Chorizo Sweet Potato Tostadas
- Shrimp, Sweet Potato and Kale Stir Fry
See if you agree with our Eat REAL America members and find new ways to enjoy this great-tasting superfood!