February is National Sweet Potato Month. It’s a great time to introduce your family to this delicious and nutritious vegetable. If you have picky eaters, this might be one vegetable they’ll actually eat.
Sweet potatoes are very flavorful and sweet enough on their own that you won’t need to add other ingredients to get your family to eat them.
My son loves sweet potatoes. I still laugh at the memory of his face the first time he tried them at 7 months old; it was priceless. Two seconds later he decided he loved them. From that moment on he would cry when I ran out of sweet potatoes. It didn’t matter how much I made; he just loved them so much. He’s almost a year and a half now and he still loves them. I don’t need to hide them under cheese, like I do with broccoli, or anything else to get him to eat them either.
I love that sweet potatoes are packed with nutrients such as vitamin A and beta carotene. Vitamin A promotes eye and skin health and also protects against infections. Beta carotene has been shown to help in the prevention of specific types of cancer such as lung cancer. Sweet potatoes also have other important nutrients including vitamin C, potassium and fiber.
These health benefits are all great reasons to add sweet potatoes to your regular menu. Make sure when you’re shopping at the commissary to look for ones that are firm, deep orange and not discolored and when you get home, store them in a cool, dry and well-ventilated area. Also make sure that you choose the right kind of sweet potato for the recipe you plan to use.
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Did you know all sweet potatoes aren’t the same? In fact, sweet potatoes aren’t potatoes at all. They come from a completely different family of plants. While sweet potatoes and yams look similar, they too are not related. To make things more confusing, many grocery stores in America market sweet potatoes as yams. How can you tell the difference?
Yams have a cylindrical shape with blackish or brown, bark-like skin and white, purple or reddish flesh. Sweet potato skin color can range from white and yellow to red, purple and brown, while the flesh can be white, yellow, orange or even orange-red. These vegetables have an elongated shape with tapered ends.
There are 2 main types of sweet potatoes in America: Firm ones have golden skin and a paler flesh than soft sweet potatoes, which have copper skin and orange flesh. They cook differently as well. Firm sweet potatoes will remain firm after cooking and a bit waxy while soft sweet potatoes will become creamy, fluffy and moist. Soft sweet potatoes are often labeled as yams and they are the ones Americans typically use at holiday dinners for casseroles, baked sweet potatoes, sweet potato pies and more. Make sure you check with your recipe to see which type of sweet potato you need before you shop.
Need a sweet potato recipe? Celebrate National Sweet Potato Month throughout February with these delicious recipes.
Mashed sweet potatoes are simple to make and are a delicious side dish to any meal. Follow this recipe and add a touch of cinnamon for a little something special.
Have leftover mashed sweet potatoes? Make sweet potato pancakes!
Of course you can always just poke some holes in a scrubbed sweet potato and pop it in the microwave on high for 8 to 10 minutes and enjoy the simplicity of the vegetable. That is how I usually serve them at home; no fancy recipe needed. If you really want to get your children excited about dinner, let them drizzle some maple syrup on their baked sweet potato or add a dash of cinnamon. Sweet potatoes reheat pretty well, so if they don’t love them tonight, add them to a new recipe and try again tomorrow.