Sweet potatoes are my FAVORITE food. They are DELICIOUS, simple to prepare, incredibly nutritious and inexpensive. Sweet potatoes are my sustenance. I eat them multiple times a week in multiple different ways.
But my favorite way to eat sweet potatoes -- the food that sustained the longest lived population on earth, the Okinawanas of Japan -- as fries.
But before you can cook them, I need to clear up some confusion. Sweet potatoes are commonly called 'yams' in U.S. grocery stores. When in reality, both the 'yams' and the sweet potatoes, are actually sweet potatoes. 'Yams' in the store are simply a variety of sweet potato. Here is what true yams and sweet potatoes look like.
Why are these sweet tubers so good for you?
Like most whole plant foods, sweet potatoes are naturally low in calories and fat. There isn't even 0.5 g of fat in one large sweet potato! They contain zero cholesterol, but are a powerhouse of nutrition for preventing and reversing chronic disease, when eaten as a part of a plant-based diet. And, they're incredibly filling, so you fill up on less calories and an abundance of nutrients.
One Large Sweet Potato, 180g
Calories: 162 Fat: 0.27 g Cholesterol: 0 mg
Fiber: 6 g Calcium: 68 mg Magnesium: 49 mg
Folate: 11 mcg Vit. A (RAE): 1730 mcg Beta carotene: 20,716 mcg
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
One of the longest lived populations in the world, the Centenarians of Okinawa, Japan, eat sweet potatoes daily as their staple food, along side of cereals, beans, fruits and vegetables (1) (2). They eat a whole foods, plant-based diet!
How to prepare sweet potatoes:
As fries - served with salsa or mustard as a snack, side-dish or appetizer. Rinse, then cut into equal sized strips, toss with dried herbs and spices, and then broil in the oven on low for 15 minutes or until soft and about to brown (the herbs stick to the potatoes w/o oil). Watch the above video for more detailed instructions ;)
Baked - sweet potatoes are sweet and creamy when baked. Scrub with water, then poke with a fork around the whole potato. Bake in the oven for one hour at 400 degrees F.
Enjoy with black bean soup on-top (no butter!), as a side-dish, a snack, in soups or use to mash.
Mashed - Bake, remove skins once cooled, and hand mash. You can add small amounts of almond milk and maple syrup, cinnamon and nutmeg, for a smoother and sweeter dish.
Other options - Sweet potatoes are awesome in quesadillas, soups and in veggie burgers. Bake a bunch at a time and keep them stocked in the fridge so you always have some sweet potato lovin' to add to your meals.
Storage - always store sweet potatoes in a paper bag, NEVER plastic. They can't breathe (really) in sealed plastic bags and will poison themselves with their own gases.
Store in a warmer location, never in the fridge. Sweet potatoes like it hot!
Let me hear it!
How will you prepare a healthy sweet potato? What is your favorite way to eat them?
Type your answer in the comments section below and start to take control of your health today!
1. Chen, C. A survey of the dietary nutritional composition of the centenarians. Chinese Med J (Engl). 2001. Oct. 114;(10)1095-7.
2. Sho, H. History and characteristics of Okinawan longevity food. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2001;10(2):159-64