Living Well In Yalobusha County

Sweet Potatoes Are A Nutritious Vegetable

By Pamela Redwine

I have found that many people only think about sweet potatoes during the holidays.  And they only think about them in the form of pies and casseroles.  However sweet potatoes have such versatility that they should be thought of much more often!  Sweet potatoes are one of the most nutritious vegetables you can eat.  They contain more vitamin A per serving than any other vegetable.  One serving of sweet potato contains 327% of your daily need for vitamin A!  Even carrots don’t contain that much vitamin A.  Sweet potatoes are also an excellent source of fiber.

Sweet potatoes are not really potatoes. They are tropical tubers from the morning glory family and are considered storage roots (like carrots).  Sweet potatoes are often called yams, but this is incorrect because yams are from the Yam family and are tubers (like potatoes).  Sweet potatoes have smooth, thin skin while yams have rough, scaly skin.  Sweet potatoes are usually the size of regular white potatoes while yams can grow as long as 7 feet and can weight up to 150 pounds!  

Sweet potatoes are grown in the United States, mostly in southern states, while yams are grown in the Caribbean.  The most important difference between sweet potatoes and yams is that sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A while yams contain no vitamin A.

Sweet potatoes are sold throughout the year, but are most abundant in the fall and early winter. When buying sweet potatoes select those that are heavy for their size, and buy similar-sized potatoes if you plan to cook them whole, so that the cooking time will be uniform.  

One pound of sweet potatoes usually equals about 3 medium potatoes or one and three-fourth cups. Choose potatoes that are smooth, hard, and free of bruises or decay, which may appear as shriveled or sunken areas or black spots.  Even if cut away, a decayed spot may have already imparted an unpleasant flavor to the entire potato.  After purchase, sweet potatoes should be kept in a cool (55ºF to 60ºF) dry place, such as a cellar, pantry or garage—never in the refrigerator, where they may develop a hard core and an “off” taste.  Sweet potatoes will keep for a month or longer if stored at 55ºF; if kept a normal room temperature, they should be used within a week of purchase.

Sweet potatoes can be prepared in several ways including baking, broiling and microwaving.

So, don’t wait for the holidays to get here before you prepare a sweet potato dish for you and your family.  With all the important nutrients you should eat them often, they are, by the way, among the most nutritious vegetables around.


Recipe of the Week



3 cups mashed cooked sweet potato (about 2 1/4 pounds)

3 tablespoons “measure like sugar” brown sugar calorie free sweetener

1/4 cup fat free milk

1 tablespoon orange juice

1 tablespoon reduced-calorie stick margarine, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large egg whites, lightly beaten

Butter-flavored cooking spray

1/3 cup “measure like sugar”  brown sugar calorie free sweetener

1/4 cup all purpose flour

2 tablespoons chilled reduced-calorie stick margarine

1/3 cup chopped pecans


• Preheat oven to 350º F

• Combine first 8 ingredients in a medium bowl. Spoon potato mixture into an 8 inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray.

• Combine 1/3 cup sweetener and flour; cut in 2 tablespoons chilled margarine with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in chopped pecans; sprinkle over top of casserole. Lightly coat top of casserole with cooking spray.  Bake at 350º degrees for 30 minutes

Yield: 8 (1/2 cup) servings

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