Taking advantage of seasonal fruits and vegetables is a cost-effective way to consume healthy and nutritious foods all year long. The sweet potato is one fall vegetable that happens to be one of my favorite starches. If you asked me a year ago if I liked sweet potatoes, I probably would’ve responded with a big “Yuck!” The first time I tried sweet potatoes was at Thanksgiving. They were smothered in marshmallows and brown sugar and in my opinion, were a mushy mess. I later tried sweet potato fries and was also very disappointed. Knowing that sweet potatoes were good for me, I was bound and determined to find a way to prepare them that was to my liking.
Did you know sweet potatoes are actually not related to the potato family? They are a member of the morning glory family. Personally, I enjoy sweet potatoes with my eggs in the morning or roasted with mixed vegetables as a side dish for lunch and dinner. My favorite way to spice them is with garlic, sea salt and pepper. However, most people prefer using cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves. Sweet potatoes served with egg whites also make an excellent post-workout snack. If I’m in a rush, I grab a bag of steamable sweet potatoes at the supermarket and can have a quick side dish on hand in a matter of minutes.
A small sweet potato (about 5 inches long or about 1 cup) contains 112 calories, 2 grams of protein, 3.9 grams of fiber and is also a good source of potassium and Vitamin C. Sweet potatoes are most known for their content of Vitamin A and the antioxidant, beta-carotene which is excellent for skin and eye health. Beta-carotene is found within the deep orange pigment of the sweet potato. Other sources of (orange-pigmented) beta-carotene include carrots, pumpkin and squash and it is also found in green-pigmented vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and kale. Beta-carotene is best absorbed when it is consumed with a small amount of fat. This can be easily accomplished if you use a small amount of olive oil when sautéing or roasting your sweet potatoes. They also are a good source of Vitamin B6 which is essential for red blood cell formation and protein metabolism.
Using sweet potatoes in unconventional ways is a great method for consuming nutrients, especially for individuals with food allergies. Here is a kid-friendly, gluten-free and dairy-free recipe for making:
Sweet Potato Pancakes
- 2 small sweet potatoes
- 2 eggs
- 1/2-1 large banana
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- Pinch of salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger
- Canola, olive or coconut oil (for cooking)
- Wash and pierce potatoes with a fork; cover with a paper towel and microwave for 5-6 minutes until soft.
- In a food processor, add the scooped out portion of the flesh of the sweet potatoes, eggs and ½ – whole banana (for sweetness) and puree until smooth.
- Add baking soda and spices, to taste.
- Heat oil on skillet over medium heat. Scoop ¼ cup batter onto skillet and cook 2-3 minutes on one side. Flip carefully and cook an additional 1-2 minutes on other side.
- Serve with fruit, yogurt or your favorite breakfast protein for a balanced breakfast or serve by itself for a healthy, sweet treat.
A zesty way to roast potatoes in the oven:
Baked Spicy Sweet Potato Wedges
- 2 sweet potatoes
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp chipotle powder
- 1/8 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- Juice of 1 lime
- Olive oil (1-2 tsp)
- Preheat oven to 350oF.
- Slice potatoes into even wedges.
- Combine spices in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, add potato wedges and drizzle with olive oil. Add spices and lime juice; lightly toss together.
- Spread potatoes on baking sheet and bake 30-35 minutes, turning half-way through.
**Extremely high intakes of Vitamin A can lead to toxic levels in the body. Please consult with your physician if considering taking a Vitamin A supplement.