Sweet potatoes come in many shapes, sizes, and colors – from white, cream, and yellow to reddish purple and deep purple. This week we have some orange, organically managed, sweet potatoes from Maui.
True to their name, they have a naturally sweet flavor which can be further enhanced by cooking methods like roasting. Unlike potatoes (edible tubers of the nightshade family), the sweet “potato” is actually a large edible root of the morning glory family. They are not to be confused with yams, which are edible tubers of the lily family, native to Africa and Asia. Although, the orange “yams” we see in grocery stores are most likely sweet potatoes as true yams are distinguished by blackish/brown bark-like skin and white or purple tones flesh.
Orange sweet potatoes are one of the top sources of beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A. Purple (or Okinawan) sweet potatoes are richer in anthocyanins. Beta-carotene and anthocyanins are phyto-chemicals, or naturally occurring compounds, that give plants their bright colors. Sweet potatoes are also rich in vitamin B-6, vitamin C, potassium and fiber.
Store your sweet potatoes in a cool, dry place. When prepping, scrub the potato skins thoroughly as they are edible and nutritious. Try steaming, boiling, or roasting sweet potatoes. If cooking in an oven or microwave, pierce the potatoes with a fork to let steam escape, and allow them to cool before slicing. Add cooked, diced sweet potatoes to soups, salads, or stir fries. Yummy and super nutritious!