Nutrition-Packed Sweet Potatoes Deserve a Spot on Your Plate

Whether you grew your sweet potatoes yourself or picked them at the farmer’s market, they’re a versatile and healthy crop. Sweet potatoes are great for immunity, eye, brain, heart, skin, and gut health.

Nutritionists recommend eating at least one orange vegetable (like carrots, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, or pumpkin) per day for the nutrition benefits. For your orange vegetable, consider the versatile and kid-approved sweet potato!

To maximize nutrition, save yourself a step and don’t peel sweet potatoes. A serving (1 cup for adults) provides fiber, manganese, potassium, and vitamins A, C, B5, and B6. Sweet potatoes are also rich in antioxidants, which protect against free radical damage and risk of cancer.

What Are Sweet Potatoes?

Are they a yam? A cousin of the potato? Well, they are tuberous root but only distantly related to potatoes. Sweet potatoes are sweeter, moister and fluffier than yams. They are also less startchy. Sweet potatoes are more common at grocery stores than yams are.

Nutrient-rich sweet potatoes also come in white and purple.

How to grow them

The sweet potato isn’t too demanding in the garden. They are drought and heat tolerant and have low susceptibility to pests and disease. Sweet potatoes need 3-4 months of warm temperatures, so they need to be planted in the spring for a fall harvest in the Pacific Northwest. They also need some space to grow.

How to eat them

Sweet potato fries

A crowd and kid-pleasing way to eat sweet potatoes is in fry form. Choose a heart-healthy oil like olive oil. You can also bake them with a just a drizzle of olive oil. Another option is to pay the extra $1 to substitute at restaurants.

Sweet potato pie

We told you sweet potatoes are versatile. They add nutrition to desserts like sweet potato pie. It’s similar to pumpkin pie.

Baked sweet potatoes

You can load your sweet potato as you would a russet potato. They make a great side dish or pick a bigger sweet potato and add some protein and make it the meal.

Side dish

My family likes candied sweet potatoes on the Thanksgiving table. The layers of sweet potatoes topped with orange slices are as beautiful as they are delicious.

Breakfast

A great way to start your day with a serving of vegetables is in a breakfast scramble or hash. You can make a whole batch for the week or have a sweet potato cubed and ready to toss in with eggs a few mornings.

Salad

You could make a version of sweet potato salad with sweet potatoes. This roasted sweet potato salad with spinach and avocado also looks heavenly. Try a fall quinoa salad with sweet potatoes and maple dressing.

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Image by smartstock

Candace Nelson

In the mountains or water debate, Candace Nelson, MS, CN chooses water every time. She is a licensed nutritionist and loves taking any fitness class that makes her forget she's working out. Read more at candacenelson.net



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