Foodie-in-training: Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes are an enigma. The texture of a potato, with a starchy sugar-laced taste and a rather ugly exterior. If I were to be pushed to pick a favourite vegetable (in a life or death situation you understand), it would the humble, ugly Sweet Potato. Butternut Squash would be a close second. I love how adaptable they are, basically, if you can do it to a potato (Roast, Bake, Steam, Boil, Mash, Soup -) you can do it with a Sweet Potato, quicker. Apparently, it also works as a substitute for potatoes making vodka! The only downside is they don’t hold their form quite as well so you can’t really make a Sweet Potato Salad out of them.

Aren’t they sexy?

Sweet Potatoes or Kumara as they are known in New Zealand are a staple way we eat. Roasted, mashed or traditionally hangi-ed (steamed & smoked over a glowing ember fire in the ground) or in soups.

To my surprise, they have a fairly good nutritional profile: The orange-flesh sweet potatoes are exceedingly rich in beta-carotene (Vitamin A). The purple-flesh varieties are outstanding sources of anthocyanins, especially peonidins and cyanidins. Both types of sweet potatoes are rich in unique phytonutrients, including polysaccharide-related molecules called batatins and batatosides. Sweet potatoes also include storage proteins called sporamins that have unique antioxidant properties. Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene). They are also a very good source of vitamin C and manganese. In addition, sweet potatoes are a good source of copper, dietary fiber, niacin, vitamin B5, and potassium.

Bonus: Recent research has shown that a minimum of 3-5 grams of fat per meal significantly increases our uptake of beta-carotene from sweet potatoes. Butter with my Sweet Potato Mash? Yes please, it’s good for you.

I am really enjoying the Foodie-in-training business, it’s certainly increasing my knowledge, and not just about new stuff.

I think I need to haul my butt into the kitchen…

Do you like Sweet Potatoes? Have you any recipes you love?

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