A veritable powerhouse of nutritional goodness, the sweet potato is only distantly related to the potato. And don’t call it a yam—it’s not even the same species! The sweet potato is a flowering perennial vine in the same family as morning glories, with delicious, starchy, tuberous roots. Instead of smothering sweet potatoes in butter and brown sugar, there are many healthier ways to prepare them. Here are a few ideas on how to make the most of this orange vegetable.
What You Get: A 4-ounce serving of sweet potato (about 1/2 cup) provides 434% the Daily Value* (DV) of vitamin A, 37% the DV of vitamin C and 15% the DV of both fiber and potassium, plus iron, magnesium and phytochemicals such as beta carotene.
How to Buy Sweet Potatoes: Choose sweet potatoes with taut, papery skins, tapered ends and uniform size, shape and color. The intensity of the orange color varies in different kinds of sweet potato—darker colors are higher in beneficial carotenoids.
Braise: Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1-inch pieces. Place in a large skillet with 1 cup vegetable broth, 1 teaspoon honey and 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme. Bring to a simmer over high heat; reduce heat, cover and cook until almost tender, about 15 minutes. Uncover, increase heat and cook until the liquid is reduced to a glaze, about 2 minutes.
Microwave: Place 2 to 3 medium sweet potatoes in a large glass baking dish; pierce with a knife. Microwave on High until soft, 8 to 12 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes.
Roast: Preheat oven to 500°F. Halve sweet potatoes, then slice into 1/2-inch wedges. Spread on a baking sheet or in a pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Coat with 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil. Roast, turning once halfway through cooking, until browned and tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
Steam: Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1-inch pieces. Place in a steamer basket over 2 inches of water in a pot set over high heat. Cover and steam until tender, about 20 minutes.
How to Store Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes will keep for 6 to 10 months in a cool, dark place. Colder temperatures can speed decay and warmer temps will accelerate sprouting and loss of moisture. The flavor of sweet potatoes can actually improve with storage as some of the starch turns into sugar.
Peak Season: Fall and winter
* Percent Daily Value based on 2,000 calories a day
Check with your doctor about the right diet for you.