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Sweet Potato the Nutritious Vegetable
Sweet Potatoes in Field
Buying Sweet Potatoes
The sweet potato is a large starchy vegetable that is actually a sweet tasting tuberous root. The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens. There are more than 1000 species of Convolvulaceae, which is the plant family for this potato. It is actually distantly related to the white potato.
Sweet potatoes were domesticated at least 5000 years ago in South America. In 1543, Spanish explorers also found sweet potatoes in “Indian Gardens” in Louisiana and in Carolina. They are now cultivated throughout tropical and warm temperate regions where there is sufficient water.
Sweet potatoes should be heavy for their size, firm, free of blemishes, mold or sprouts. If they have sprouts you know they are really old. You can store the potatoes in the pantry in a cool dark place and they usually will keep for 2 or 3 weeks. Scrub them before you bake or peel them as they usually have loose dirt on the skin.
Nutritional Value of a Sweet Potato
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) ranks the sweet potato as number one in nutrition of all vegetables.
Nutritional Information for sweet potato –one medium potato:
- Calories 130
- Fat 0.39 g
- Protein 2.15 g
- Net Carbs 31.56 g
- Dietary fiber 3.9 g
- Calcium 28.6 mg
- Sodium 16.9 mg
- Potassium 265.2 mg
- Folate 18.2 mcg
- Vitamin C 29.51 mg
- Vitamin A 26081.9 IU
Sweet potatoes have the lowest glycemic index among root vegetables. This is because the sweet potato digests slowly causing a gradual rise in blood sugar so you feel satisfied.
The softer variety of orange potatoes is called Yam in North American in an attempt to differentiate it from the firmer white potato. The yam is unrelated to the sweet potato and it is native to Africa and Asia. This tuber grows on a tropical vine. Many yams grow wild in South.America.
There are differences between sweet potatoes and yams. Yams contain more natural sugar than the sweet potato and have a higher moisture content. They are very popular in South America. While they are very nutritious, they don’t quite compare to the sweet potato
Sweet Potato Casserole Demonstration
Sweet Potato Dishes
Besides just baking a sweet potato there are many delicious ways to cook them. These are a few good recipes: candied sweet potatoes, sweet potato soufflé, sweet potato fries, sweet potato salad, sweet potato casserole, and sweet potato hash browns to name just a few.
There are numerous recipes found on the Internet and in your cookbooks. Many of these casseroles have added white and brown sugar, butter, marshmallow topping and pecans, so the calories would be higher. The more heavy laden recipes are quite often used for special occasions, like Thanksgiving and Christmas.
There are also some low fat recipes using skim milk, egg whites, and lesser amounts of brown sugar with toppings of chopped pecans, brown sugar, flour and butter. You could also microwave sweet potatoes and use just a bit of margarine with a little maple syrup for a topping.
Sweet Potato Soup
Sweet Potato Soup
Sweet potatoes can also be used in soups. They are often creamy soups with a chicken or vegetable broth base and several spices are often added, such as cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. Also, the soup might have garlic, celery, leeks, and onion.
Making Sweet Potato Pie
Jamaican Sweet Potato Pudding Cake
Sweet Potato Desserts
We can’t overlook the wonderful desserts using sweet potatoes. There are some good cake recipes and no good Southerner would let Thanksgiving pass by without sweet potato pie. It is a loved dessert in the south.
James Taylor sings "Sweet Potato"
As this hub has shown, sweet potatoes are very nutritious and you can keep the calories down by just baking one in your microwave or oven. There are numerous ways you can prepare this healthy vegetable for a meal with casseroles and soups. Of course, the desserts are delicious.
© 2010 Pamela Oglesby