Sweet potatoes are a fabulous source of vitamin A and make great lunch box additions. Not just for holidays, these spuds are year-round favorites. A small amount of butter or oil maximizes the full beta-carotene amount found in them. Steaming or boiling also maximizes their nutritional benefits.
As far back as the 1500s, southerners were depending upon sweet potatoes for a great deal of their basic nutrition. They have served as a valuable staple for mankind throughout the ages.
The earliest sweet potatoes go way back to the Peruvians 10,000 years ago. How they arrived in North America from there is not clear. We do know, that while Columbus is credited more often for introducing European agricultural items to North America, this time he carried the sweet potato with him back to Europe. From there, Spanish and Portuguese seamen brought them to Africa, India and Asia.
Some have purple flesh, however we are most used to those with orange flesh. Today, China grows 80 million tons each year followed by Africa, South America and the U.S. in the Carolinas’ region.
Sweet potatoes are especially rich in vitamin A, or beta-carotene. They are also an excellent source of vitamins , C and B, magnesium, pantothenic acid, biotin, potassium and phosphorous. Also, look to them for healthful fiber.
Choose sweet potatoes which are firm and not too large. While they seem tough, the truth is they do not have a very long shelf life, and it is important not to refrigerate them. They do best in a dry, dark place, ideally around 60 degrees.
SEARCH AND SERVING SUGGESTIONS:
If purchasing organic sweet potatoes, it is okay to eat their skin. If not, peel them. Soak in cold water until cooking to prevent darkening.
- Baked fries
- Candied with marshmallows/brown sugar
- Maple syrup
- Orange juice/zest
- Stir fry
- Sweet potato pie
Below are foodsites with sweet potato recipes.