I really wanted to write to you about the cabbage and the whole brassica family but my husband said that cabbage doesn’t go very well with the Holiday spirit. So sweet potatoes it is!
Sweet potatoes are native to America and related to neither potatoes nor yams, even though we sometimes call them yams. These three tubers come from three different plant families. They can’t tolerate frost but if properly cured and stored they will last thirteen months. So they are in season all year around! By the way, speaking of storage, you don’t want to keep them in the fridge because cold temperature injures the roots. The best condition for their storage is 55-65F.
How can you tell a sweet potato from a yam?
Chances are you never ate a true yam if you’re in North America. Yams are native to Africa and have blackish to brown skin and white, purple or reddish flesh. You can find them in specialty markets but not usually in chain grocery stores.
There are many varieties of sweet potatoes and their skin color ranges from purple and red, to orange, yellow, and white. The flesh can be orange, yellow or white.
The two major types of the vegetable sold in the US are:
- Soft with brown-orange skin and deep orange flesh. This is the variety that we commonly (and mistakenly) call Yams
- Firm with golden skin and lighter flesh – commonly called Sweet Potatoes
They are full of nutrients, but…
Like other tubers, the vegetable is pretty starchy, with high natural sugar content. The glycemic index of a sweet potato will depend on how you cook it. If you boil it glycemic index is only 46, roasting will increase glycemic index up to 86 and baking all the way to 94. Pretty incredible, isn’t it? Regardless of how you cook them they are a very starchy vegetable and should be avoided by people with blood sugar issues.
That said, sweet potato contains generous amounts of vitamin C and carotenes and both of these are important antioxidants. They are an excellent source of bet-carotenes that can be converted into vitamin A, vitamin B6, manganese, potassium, and magnesium.
What we can do with sweet potatoes
Baked, boiled and mashed, or roasted sweet potatoes are often seen on the menu during the Holiday season.
I have a soup recipe that calls for this vegetable that I’d like to share with you – Sweet and Calming Fall Soup.