The best way to cook sweet potatoes is to cook them the same as you would for your favorite way to cook white (regular) potatoes. If you like your potatoes boiled, baked, mashed or fried it’s all good. Just remember that with sweet potatoes you can raise their glycemic index when baking.
For everything you need to know about sweet potatoes and how to fix them continue reading and some of what you’ll discover may just truly surprise you.
Before we get into how to prepare these tasty tubers there are a few things we need to tackle first such as:
Are Sweet Potatoes Yams?
No, they are not.
They may look somewhat similar and you may even see sweet potatoes marketed as yams, but they are not the same.
The whole thing began back in the 1930’s when Louisiana farmers started marketing their special variety of orange fleshed sweet potatoes as yams to differentiate them and make them special in the marketplace.
Yams are a monocot plant of the Dioscoreaceae family which has only one embryonic seed leaf, while sweet potatoes are a dicot meaning that they have two such seed leaves.
A further differentiation is that; sweet potatoes come from the morning glory family of plants which you may be familiar with having seen some of them as decorative plants prized for their beautiful flowers.
When you see true yams in the grocery stores, you’ll notice that they have a much more rugged, tough skin that actually resembles tree bark.
Sweet potatoes on the other hand can have just slightly rough skin all the way to rather smooth skin especially on the purple skinned varieties.
You’ll also find that sweet potatoes can have quite a variety of flesh colors from white to purple, from yellowish to vibrant orange. In contrast yams are typically white fleshed, starchy and not very sweet at all.
Are Sweet Potatoes Only For Thanksgiving?
As a matter of fact, many fitness gurus, bodybuilders, fitness competitors and other athletes eat them as a year-round staple of their diets.
Why would this matter to you if you’re not into fitness or athletics?
That answer is an easy one.
Athletes, fitness gurus and the like all study nutrition to find any little thing they can that might give them or their clients an edge over the competition.
You might say ‘but, I’m not in a competition’.
Well, if I may say so, yes you are.
We are all competing every day against the hands of time so that we can age gracefully and have a long, happy, healthy life.
We have people who we look up to and would like to look similar too. We all have goals that we want to accomplish and being healthy will most assuredly help us achieve them.
Are Sweet Potatoes For Everyday Eating?
Well, ok, maybe not for every day. I think everyone likes a little variety.
However, yes, you can include them as a healthy staple in your diet as they are much healthier for you than regular white potatoes.
As mentioned above and that we will discuss in detail below; you can fry them, bake them, mash or boil them, just as you would regular potatoes.
The difference is, they have more nutrients and a more stable carbohydrate that can help to balance out your blood sugar as we will also discuss below.
What Time Of Year Do You Harvest Sweet Potatoes?
Sweet potatoes are generally harvested just before the frosts start to happen in the late fall or early winter up north even if your growing them in the south.
You’ll see the ends of the vines begin to turn yellow as they start to lose the chlorophyl that gives them their green color.
When you harvest them, it’s advised to use a pitchfork to pry the ground loose for about 24 inches around each plant, so you avoid damaging them. Then you can work inwards towards the plant with a shovel turning the soil and plucking up the potatoes.
Sweet Potato Nutrition Facts
We know they’re nutritious, but what do they have in them?
To start off with;
What Are The Macros For Sweet Potatoes?
For one cup (200 grams) of boiled skinless sweet potato your macros look like this:
Fat: 0.3 grams.
Carbohydrates (carbs): 41.4 grams.
A more complete nutritional breakdown looks like this.
Serving size: 200 grams (1cup).
Protein: 4 grams.
Fat: 0.3 grams.
Carbohydrates (carbs): 41.4 grams.
Fiber: 6.6 grams
Vitamin A: 769% of the
Daily Value (DV)
Vitamin B6: 29% of the DV
Vitamin C: 65% of the DV
Copper: 16% of the DV
Manganese: 50% of the DV
Niacin: 15% of the DV
Pantothenic acid: 18% of the DV
Potassium: 27% of the DV
What Are The Health Benefits Of Sweet Potatoes?
Several studies have shown that orange flesh sweet potatoes exhibit anticancer effects on colorectal cancer cells.
They did culture the cancer cells and use an extract of the anthocyanins, beta carotene and other antioxidants for the experiment as showing direct action of foods in the colon is rather difficult.
Very seldom will a person only ingest an extract containing the aforementioned ingredients and no other foods whatsoever. So, it becomes incredibly difficult to tell what did what and to whom.
So, isolating the cancer cells and directly treating them is the best current solution.
The extracts showed that apoptosis (cell death) was achieved with amounts similar to human consumption of the whole food.
Other studies have shown beta carotene to have similar effects of breast cancer tissues.
Beta Carotene has been shown to be a powerful antioxidant that helps to improve and maintain eyesight, fight off cancer cells caused by smoking and of course help to eliminate all sorts of free radicals throughout the body.
In most studies it also showed that eating beta carotene rich foods was the best way to include beta carotene in your diet.
Taking supplements that were at tens or even hundreds of times normal food levels actually proved to be counterproductive and even harmful when attempting to remove the free radicals caused by smoking from the system.
So, the lesson of the day here is, eat your sweet potatoes instead of attempting to get their nutrition from supplements.
This generally rings true with most foods as well.
Glycemic Index Of Sweet Potatoes By Cooking Method
Did you know that you can affect the glycemic index of many of your foods with different cooking methods?
Yes, you can.
This happens with most foods actually. The reason being is that; the act of just cooking them changes their glycemic index from their raw state to a cooked state. In nearly all instances the cooked food will have a higher glycemic index value than the raw food.
As an example: orange flesh colored sweet potatoes will have glycemic indexes of steamed 63, microwaved 66 and baked 64.
To illustrate the difference raw orange sweet potato flesh only has a GI (glycemic index) of 32 which is quite low for a starch-based carbohydrate.
Why Is It Important To Know The Glycemic Index Of Your Foods?
Well, one important reason is so that you don’t become a diabetic.
Yes, that’s literally a reason.
You see, if you didn’t care about the rate at which sugars hit your blood stream or that carbs are broken down into sugars and hit your blood stream then you’d have no clue as to why pure sugar is bad for you.
You wouldn’t know or care why soda, cookies and candies are not just bad for you in a slow health deteriorating health kind of way, but can mess you up right now as well.
If you woke up and drank 6 of the top sugar content soda (that we won’t mention by name) you could literally have one of several types of diabetic events right there on the spot.
And that’s if you’re a healthy person!
Sounds crazy we know, but it’s true.
So, please don’t do that because we’d miss you coming back to our site for more of our great content.
Putting aside the crazy stuff, you should know the glycemic index of the main foods you eat on a daily basis so that you know why you feel great, why you feel tired and why you’re getting gas at certain times.
All these things and more are affected by how fast the foods you eat are broken down into sugars and then how fast those sugars enter your blood stream.
When you eat or drink pure sugar this enters your blood stream almost immediately and is incredibly taxing on your system.
What you want is to eat the lowest glycemic level foods possible all throughout the day so that you can maintain normal, healthy blood sugar levels and have great, sustained energy all day long.
Are Sweet Potatoes Keto Friendly?
Sorry to have to break this to you, but no. Sweet potatoes are a starchy carbohydrate that generally doesn’t fit in on a keto diet where you’re restricting carbs. However, it is one of the best starchy foods to break keto on or have a cheat meal with as it’s rather low on the glycemic index.
How To Cook Sweet Potatoes?
Oh, let us count the ways.
No, really, there are more ways than we could possibly talk about here unless we wanted to compete with War And Peace for word count.
So, here are just a few of the ways and a general description of how to accomplish each one.
Why not a specific way for each one?
Well, it depends on the variety of sweet potato you’re cooking, the amount of potato and what type of a diet you’re currently on.
Purple fleshed sweet potatoes generally have a higher starch content than other varieties and so may take longer to cook in some instances.
And by diet we mean your current method of eating whether you’re attempting to lose weight, bulk up, stay the same or just don’t care.
It’s all called the diet you’re currently following.
So, without further ado, here are several ways (in no particular order) you can prepare your sweet potatoes so they come out just the way you want them.
1. Fried: you can cut them into French fries or discs or even grate them into hash browns.
As French fries use about an inch of your favorite cooking oil un a frying pan. Peel them and cut the sweet potatoes into your favorite shape for fries, long and skinny works well and cooks fast and evenly
Cook them until they are tender and to your liking. Then season appropriately.
As you can tell, we didn’t say cook them for exactly X number of minutes.
If you’re cooking thick wedge shaped (steak fries as they are sometimes called) then they will require much longer cooking time to be soft and tender in the very center.
For hash browns just grate them after peeling, cooking them with just enough oil in a pan so that they don’t stick.
Cook until they are soft and tender all the way through.
If you’re frying them as discs use just enough oil on peeled sweet potatoes so they don’t stick and fry them until they are nice and tender all the way through.
You can test them with a fork by sticking it in the center to see how easily the fork goes in and comes off.
A little tip is to cut all the slices the same thickness, so they all cook pretty evenly.
Boiled: Peel them and cut them into approximately 2-inch cubes. Cover them with water in a cooking pot, bring them to a boil stirring every 10 minutes. Turn the heat down so that you just have a simmering boil. That means that it’s just barley boiling but not hard boiling.
You can begin checking them with a fork for tenderness after 30 minutes and every 10 minutes thereafter.
Cook until they reach the level of softness you prefer.
Strain the water from them, let cool in a covered container and refrigerate when cool to be able to eat them for several days or consume them now while they are still hot.
Baked: Most of the time you’ll bake the whole sweet potato uncut, or as discs, large wedges or fries.
For whole baked sweet potatoes wash them, leave the skin on and poke them with a fork ten times all over the surface to release the built-up pressure.
Bake at 300 to 350 until they are nice and tender when you poke them with a fork.
As discs or wedges: use a flat baking pan with just enough oil in the bottom so they don’t stick.
Lay the washed unpeeled wedges or discs on the baking pan and bake until tender.
There you have it, virtually everything you need to know about sweet potatoes and how to prepare them as well.