Frankly, the way sweet potatoes are treated at Thanksgiving is almost criminal, especially when you consider their versatility and nutrition.
The sweet potato is not actually a potato — it’s a root not a tuber, so it isn’t even a distant cousin. It’s a member of the morning glory family. By the way, yams and sweet potatoes are not the same. True yams come from tropical and subtropical regions of the world and contain more starch and less sugar than sweet potatoes. You can recognize yams easily because the flesh is a pale yellow instead of a vibrant orange.
Sweet Potatoes are native to the western hemisphere and Native Americans were already growing them when European settlers arrived.
African slaves in the South called the sweet potato “nyami” because it reminded them of the starchy, edible tuber of that name that grew in their homeland. The Senegalese word “nyami” was eventually shortened to the word “yam”.
You can purchase them year round fresh in the produce section or canned (where they are called yams – go figure).
The health benefits for the sweet potato are amazing. High in fiber and Vitamin A and E, potassium and iron, low in fat and sodium – at just 118 calories it’s a great low calorie food too. In fact, they were recently categorized as an anti-diabetic food, because some animal studies have shown that consumption of sweet potatoes stabilizes blood sugar levels and lowers insulin resistance.
Grow a Sweet Potato as a Houseplant!
The other thing that’s cool about sweet potatoes is that they can become a living laboratory for your kids or a beautiful houseplant!
There are so many amazing choices for recipes that I had a hard time limiting myself to one or even two…So here’s 4:
Sweet Potato Apple Muffins – This one is great because it also includes 2 whole grains.
Two Bisque Sweet Potato Soup – Comfort food Plus!
Tropical Cheddar Pizza – Unique twist on a pizza theme with a sweet potato instead of tomato base
Sweet Potato Black Bean and Caramelized Onion Burritos – All veggies!