Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sweet Potatoes – The ‘In’ Vegetable for 2011

I like to keep up with food trends. I am not sure I believe them, but it is fun to follow them. One of the hottest ‘new’ foods for 2011 is the sweet potato. (http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/blogs/editor/2010/12/food-trend-predictions-for-2011.html?intcid=epi_hptile4) Can you believe that – sweet potatoes? When I read that, my first thought was to applaud some trend watcher. My second thought was what took you so long? You see, the sweet potato has been a staple of the southern diet for eons.

So why sweet potatoes. First of all they are a nutritional powerhouse. They are high in fiber, beta carotene, and vitamin C and low in calories. They are showing up on more restaurant menus and not just as fries. Google searches for the vegetable have increased by 40% from last year. Now granted we don’t always prepare sweet potatoes in the most nutritionally sound ways. We have topped them with marshmallows – poor sweet potatoes, drowned them in butter and sugar, aka, candied yams and now we even fry them. Sweet potatoes are good on their own and don’t need much adornment to shine.

The sweet potato and white potato are only distantly related. The sweet potato is actually a member of the morning glory family. Although the leaves are edible, sweet potatoes are grown primarily for their roots. While there are hundreds of varieties of sweet potatoes, there was a time when Americans purchased two basic types, the yellow and deep orange kind. Now there are several varieties readily available to the US consumer. In addition to yellow and orange one can purchase white and purple sweet potatoes. White sweet potatoes contain more starch than the orange varieties and tend to cook up mealy. Orange varieties have a higher sugar content, are more watery and are easily caramelized. Purple sweet potatoes are sometimes referred to as Okinawan potatoes and are native to the Japanese island, Okinawa.

Roasted sweet potatoes is an excellent recipe for mixing different varieties of sweet potatoes. I like this recipe because it is easy – put it in the oven and walk away. But most of all, it showcases sweet potatoes. It allows the beauty of sweet potatoes to shine.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Serves 6.
3 pounds sweet potatoes, about 4 medium
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

1. Wash and peel potatoes. Cut into cubes or French fry shape. Toss with oil, salt and black pepper.

2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Spray foil lightly with cooking spray. Add potatoes in a single layer.

3. Cover tightly with foil. Turn oven to 425°F and cook for 30 minutes.

4. Remove foil and continue to roast for 15 to 25 minutes or until potatoes are tender.


  1. I love your praise of the sweet potato! I feel the exact same way (as you can tell by my blog name)!

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