October 15, 2007

Sweet Potato - A recipe for good health

The sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas), commonly called a yam in parts of the United States (especially in the southern and western portions of the country; this terminology causes some confusion with true yams) is a crop plant whose large, starchy, sweet tasting tuberous roots are an important root vegetable. The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens. The sweet potato is only distantly related to the potato (Solanum tuberosum). It is even more distantly related to the true yam (Dioscorea species) which is native to Africa and Asia.

The genus Ipomoea that contains the sweet potato also includes several garden flowers called morning glories, though that term is not usually extended to Ipomoea batatas. Some cultivars of Ipomoea batatas are grown as houseplants.

This plant is a herbaceous perennial vine, bearing alternate heart-shaped or palmately lobed leaves and medium-sized sympetalous flowers. The edible tuberous root is long and tapered, with a smooth skin whose color ranges between red, purple, brown and white. Its flesh ranges from white through yellow, orange, and purple.

Sweet potatoes contain plant sterols, compounds that help lower cholestrol.

Eat with jacket to reap the benefits of soluble and insolubel fibre. Fibre reduces cholestrol and divericulosis.

Beta carotene is a powerful antioxidant that lowers risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

Sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamin C, B6, folate and potassium.

Sweet potatoes are nutritious and have a rich flavour.

When buying sweet potatoes, choose firm ones with no cracks or bruises. The flavor of raw sweet potatoes might be altered if they're kept in a refrigerator. They should last for two weeks or more if stored in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place and handled with care. If the temperature is too warm -- above 60° F. -- they'll sprout sooner or become woody. Once cooked, sweet potatoes can be stored for up to 1 week in the refrigerator. Like potatoes, sweet potatoes are always eaten cooked, but their sweetness makes them versatile. They can be used in a wide variety of dishes, both savory and sweet, and go well with cinnamon, honey, lime, ginger, coconut and nutmeg. Enjoy them in baked desserts and quick breads, puddings and custards, casseroles, stews or croquettes.

Here is a great and fast recipe.

Sweet potatoes, baked with honey and butter.

  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 sweet potatoes


Combine honey, butter and salt. In a greased baking dish, layer the sweet potato slices and honey-butter mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Baste frequently.

Serves 6

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