Sweet potato: the tan skinned, orange-fleshed vegetable that is a vitamin powerhouse. It is nature’s treasure of beta-carotene, and consuming sweet potatoes more than meets our vitamin A needs. In addition to the aforementioned orange, some sweet potatoes are purple-fleshed. This variety is also rich in vitamins and antioxidants.
Aside from vitamin A, sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin C. They also contain fiber, which helps our digestive system.
Sweet potatoes are a sweet-tasting, starchy root vegetable. It is North Carolina’s state vegetable but originates from South America. Fun fact: the majority of sweet potatoes we consume come from China, where sweet potatoes are used for livestock feed.
Although they are very different, sweet potatoes are often confused with yams. Yams are not rich in beta-carotene like sweet potatoes are, they are lighter in color, a lot starchier, rough and scaly, and not as sweet. Yams are originally from Africa and not sold as much in the US compared to sweet potatoes. Yams are now imported from the Caribbean, where they are used in many common dishes.
The easiest way to cook a sweet potato is to bake it. After rinsing it off with water, pierce it with a fork a couple of times and bake it at 400 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes or until tender. At this point it can be enjoyed as is, or it can be mashed to make it into a puree, which makes a very nutritious meal for young children. Sweet potatoes can also be sautéed, boiled, steamed or grilled.
How do you like to prepare sweet potatoes?