Health benefits of sweet potatoes: These tasty tubers deserve to be part of your regular rotation. Find out why you might want to eat them more often — and some surprising and delicious ways to use them!
This time of year, pumpkins get all the glory. But their not-so-celebrated, not-so-decorative neighbors in the field, sweet potatoes deserve a lot of love, too!
Sweet potatoes are powerhouse foods, rich in immune-boosting vitamin A, C, and B-6, fiber, and potassium. They’re one of the first things I reach for when there are colds in our house I want to fight off. They’re also potent sources of antioxidants, those amazing compounds that help fight all sorts of diseases.
That gorgeous orange color you associate with sweet potatoes comes from beta-carotene, which our bodies turn into vitamin A. Eating a little healthy fat (coconut oil, pastured butter, avocado oil, e.g.) with your sweet potato may help you absorb more of these nutrients.
If the only time you eat sweet potatoes is when they’re hiding under some marshmallows at your grandma’s Thanksgiving, it’s time to give these super-star foods a chance in some other recipes!
Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes: What to Know
Our CSA farmers are just starting to dig up these yummy additions to the fall table. I’ve tried to grow them, but they just need more sun than I can get. But if you have the sun, you should definitely leave space for these nutritious and delicious garden gems.
You can actually keep a steady supply going by bringing cuttings from your vines each winter and using them to start new tubers in the spring. (Growing instructions here). You can even eat the greens, which are said to be very nutritious.
And yes, you can eat the skin, too. Like a potato, you can eat the skin right along with the inner flesh when you make baked sweet potatoes or sweet potato fries.
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While lots of people call them yams, what you’ll find in most American grocery stores are sweet potatoes of varying colors. They come in orange, white, yellow, and even purple. Yams, which you generally won’t find in US grocery stores, mainly come from Africa and Asia, and are a different vegetable altogether.
They’re reportedly drier and have a different nutrient profile. Though US markets sometimes call the more orange sweet potatoes yams, chances are unless you’ve sought out real yams in international grocery stores, you’ve never had one!
If you’re buying your sweet potatoes from a farmer and won’t use them right away, choose the sweet potatoes with dirt still on them and they’ll last longer in your cupboard. If you’re buying clean sweet potatoes, plan to use them within a couple weeks and store them somewhere cool, dark and dry. Never refrigerate raw sweet potatoes.
Don’t save the health benefits of sweet potatoes for holiday meals!
They’re perfect anytime, even on their own as a snack. Simple baked sweet potato fries make a perfect side to any meal, or just eat them on their own or with a nutritious dip. (See recipes below.)
You can roast them whole or in chunks or slices, or you can slice and steam them, which is quicker if you’re in a hurry and plan to use them mashed. (Roasted will have a better flavor if you’re eating chunks, in my opinion.)
You can also sub sweet potato in the pumpkin recipes that are everywhere these days — you might even be able to lower the amount of added sweetener in baked goods, since sweet potatoes, as their name suggests, have their own sweetness.
And if you’re wisely avoiding canned food, it’s much easier to bake up the right amount of sweet potato for a recipe than a whole pumpkin!
These recipes from around the blogosphere will surely have your mouth watering for some incredible ways to enjoy the health benefits of sweet potatoes. Try them in chili, soup, dips, baked goods, even for breakfast!
Sweet Potato Recipes: Breakfast
Sweet Potato Berries Breakfast Bowl (Nourish Everyday)
Sweet Potato Sourdough Pancakes (Butter For All)
Sweet Potato and Greens Breakfast Saute (Raising Generation Nourished)
Sweet Potato Recipes: Sides & Snacks
The Best Way to Cook and Spiralize Sweet Potatoes (Raising Generation Nourished)
Cajun-Seasoned Sweet Potato Fries (Prepare and Nourish)
Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Sage Brown Butter (Pistachio Project)
Loaded Sweet Potato Fries (Oh Sweet Mercy)
Roasted Sweet Potato Puree with Coconut, Orange & Ginger (And Here We Are)
Southwest Sweet Potato Dip (Studio Botanica)
Scalloped Sweet Potato Gratin with Braised Leek and Fennel (Delicious Obsessions)
Dreamy, Cream Sweet Potato Hummus (Sprinkle of Green)
Bacon and Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes (The Family That Heals Together)
Sweet Potato “Rice” (Pistachio Project)
Baked Sweet Potato Chips (A Spicy Perspective)
Sweet Potato Recipes: Mains
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili (The Organic Kitchen)
Chicken Sweet Potato Noodle Bowl (Paleo in PDX)
Sweet Potato-Chestnut Soup with Sage and Bacon (Eat Beautiful)
Sundried Tomato and Sweet Potato Fritatta (Whole New Mom)
Sweet Potato Black Bean Salad (Well Plated by Erin)
Sweet Potato Hash (Full of Days)
Thai Peanut Sweet Potato Noodles (The Fitchen)
Sweet Potato and Portobello Tacos (Cocoon Cooks)
Mexican Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Black Bean Skillet (Recipe Runner)
Twice Baked Japanese Sweet Potatoes with Chopped Walnuts & Dates (The Rising Spoon)
Sweet Potato Recipes: Desserts
Like pumpkin, sweet potato can be added to all kinds of healthy treats. I can’t wait to try some of these amazing desserts!
Sweet Potato Chocolate Mousse (Nourish Everyday)
Raw Sweet Potato Pie (Small Footprint Family)
Healthy Blender Sweet Potato Muffins (Big Man’s World)
Sweet Potato Grain Free Brownies (Make the Best of Everything)
Vegan Sweet Potato Brownies (One Green Planet)
Easy Sweet Potato Chocolate Pudding (Delicious Obsessions)
Chocolate Cardamom Cupcakes with Sweet Potato Frosting (Whole New Mom)
How do you like to use sweet potatoes? Share in the comments!
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Photo credits: Nourish Everyday, Organic Kitchen, Butter for All, Raising Generation Nourished, Einladung_zum_Essen