Sweet potatoes are a type of root vegetable that is native to South America. They were first cultivated by the Incas, and later spread to the Caribbean and Africa via the Transatlantic slave trade. Yams, which most people mistake for the more common sweet potatoes, were essential part of African culture and diet.
During colonization of the American South the more available and accessible sweet potatoes were used as a substitute for yams and over time they became synonymous. One big positive to this is that the superfood sweet potato became an essential part of African Americans diet and a cornerstone of "soul food" cooking.
What is the nutritional value of sweet potatoes?
When it comes to superfoods, sweet potatoes have got to be near the top of the list. These delicious tubers are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that are essential for optimal health.
Not only are they great for you, but sweet potatoes are also incredibly versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes, especially soul food ones. If you're looking for some tasty and nutritious ways to include sweet potatoes in your diet, read on!
How to choose the best sweet potatoes at the grocery store
When sweet potatoes are in season, they are relatively inexpensive and easy to find at the grocery store. However, picking the perfect sweet potato can be tricky. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when shopping for sweet potatoes:
First, take a look at the sweet potatoes and assess their size. If you want to bake sweet potatoes, you'll want to choose ones that are on the larger side. On the other hand, if you're planning on making sweet potato fries, smaller sweet potatoes will be easier to cut into uniform pieces.
Next, examine the sweet potatoes for any signs of damage. Small cuts or bruises shouldn't affect the taste of the sweet potato, but large gashes or mushy spots could indicate that the sweet potato is beginning to rot. You'll also want to avoid sweet potatoes with wrinkled skin, as this is another sign of deterioration.
Finally, give the sweet potatoes a smell test. Sweet potatoes should have a faintly sweet aroma; if they don't smell sweet at all, they probably aren't ripe yet. Conversely, if the sweet potatoes have an overwhelming sickly-sweet smell, they may be past their prime.
By following these simple tips, you can ensure that you choosing the best sweet potatoes for your needs.
Uses of sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a versatile and delicious ingredient that can be used in sweet or savory dishes.
Perhaps the most revered dish in traditional soul food cooking is the classic sweet potato pie which is a must have on Thanksgiving tables amongst black folks. Candied "yams" might just be a close second or 1B.
One of the most popular ways to cook sweet potatoes is to roast them in the oven like these roasted sweet potato rounds. This method brings out the natural sweetness of the potato and makes them crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. But I also like them roasted hasselback style.
Another popular method is to make sweet potato fries. Sweet potato fries are a healthy alternative to regular french fries, and they can be baked or fried.
Sweet potatoes can also be mashed and used as a replacement for mashed potatoes. No matter how you choose to cook sweet potatoes, they are sure to be a hit!
For other soul food sweet potato recipes try there as well:
- Grilled Sweet Potato Wedges
- Duck Fat Smashed Sweet Potatoes
- Sweet Potato Smoothie
- Peruvian Ceviche
- Beef Stew with Sweet Potatoes
- Coal Roasted Purple Sweet Potatoes
- Black Rice Salad with Sweet Potatoes
- Sweet Potato Smoothie
For a non-sweet potato option try this classic potato salad or these purple potato fries.
What are the health benefits of eating sweet potatoes regularly?
Sweet potatoes are not only delicious, but they also have some impressive health benefits. For one, sweet potatoes are a good source of fiber, which can help to regulate digestion and prevent constipation.
They are also relatively low in calories, making them a great choice for people watching their weight.
Furthermore, sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and C, manganese, and potassium. Studies have even shown that sweet potatoes can help to lower blood pressure and improve blood sugar control.