How many of us have stood in the canned vegetable aisle of the grocery store and asked ourselves the question “is a sweet potato the same thing as a yam and, if so, which one do I want?” Not a question to keep you up at night or define the boundaries of which team should win the superbowl an important question none the less.
Sweet potatoes and yams are not the same thing but it really doesn’t matter in terms of what you’re going to be able to buy. Yams are starchier, drier and firmer than sweet potatoes. The sweet potato and yam tend to be identified interchangeably and the fresh and canned stuff you’re getting in the United are most likely sweet potatoes. Yams are native to Africa and Asia, not United States and are not readily available except at specialty market and even then, not so much. In fact, the Department of Agriculture requires labels with the term ‘yam’ on them to also have the term ‘sweet potato next to it.
The skin color of the sweet potato runs the gamut from white to yellow, red and brown. The fleshy part of the sweet potato can be every color from white to yellow, orange to red. Sweet potato varieties are usually classified as either ‘firm’ or ‘soft’. When cooked, those in the ‘firm’ category keep their shape and remain firm when cooked and the ‘soft’ varieties become a kind of mushy when cooked. Sweet potatoes have a subtle flavor and pair well with all kinds of herbs, spices as well as other vegetables. They can be boiled, broiled, roasted, baked, microwaved, steamed and grilled and substituted for a regular potato any time you’d like. They’re best stored in dry dark place and can be stored up to a month that way.
The sweet potato is low in calories, a good source of fiber, rich in vitamin A and C, a good source of calcium, iron, thiamine and beta-carotene. That’s quite a bit of goodness all packed into one delicious package. The following sweet potato recipes can help you take good eating to the next more delicious and (healthy) level.