Sweet potatoes are a healthier option than regular white potatoes. They have more fiber and nutrients in them than your standard baking or mashing potatoes, and they’re much more delicious. There are many different ways to make sweet potatoes but baking them in their skins is one of the quickest, easiest and most delicious ways to enjoy these tubers. Go out to your nearest grocery store and pick up some delicious, nutritious sweet potatoes and get ready to fix one of the easiest dishes around!
The Humble Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are the large, tuberous roots of plants that are similar to the morning glory. They are distantly related to the potato, though many people tend to think they are far more closely related. They are also frequently mixed-up with yams though in North America it yams and sweet potatoes are essentially the same thing.
Where did sweet potatoes come from?
It’s believed that sweet potatoes came up from South or Central America. Root cuttings were perhaps taken by Polynesian islanders who visited the islands and from there they spread across the warmer islands. They moved to China, Japan, and Europe in the 1600s. The sweet potato is used by all these cultures in a variety of different meals and menus.
Sweet potatoes are a superfood! They help to lower blood pressure, they protect against cancer, they have a super high fiber content which helps to make you feel fuller, and they prevent constipation. Despite how good they taste, they are low in calories, so you can enjoy their sugary sweetness in almost every diet!
Just one sweet potato will give you 25% of your daily Vitamin C, 25% of your daily Vitamin B6, and 12% of your daily potassium. They are also an excellent source of beta-carotene and yet a single, medium sweet potato has only 103 calories, 24 grams of carbs and 2.3 grams of protein!
Pick a Good Sweet Potato
When you go to the store to pick a sweet potato you’ll want to look for tubers that are seven to eight inches long and two to three inches around. You want them to be firm with skins completely intact. Avoid sweet potatoes that look as though they have bruises or growths.
How do I prepare a sweet potato for baking?
To prepare your sweet potato for baking, you’ll want to carefully scrub it clean. Be careful though; sweet potato skins can be very easily scrapped off the meat of the tuber. Use your hands to gently scrub any dirt and debris loose from the skin, but avoid scrubbing it with anything rougher. Once the sweet potato is clean you can poke it all over a few times with a fork. You poke the potato so that as it cooks the moisture inside has a way to be vented as steam without causing your potato to explode.
How do I bake my sweet potato?
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil to catch any sticky juices that come out of the fork holes in your potatoes. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and once the temperature is reached slide the baking sheet with your sweet potatoes into the oven and cook it for about an hour. You’ll know when your sweet potatoes are finished because you’ll be able to easily stick a fork through the skin and into the meat without any real resistance.
How do I eat my sweet potatoes?
Most people enjoy sweet potatoes with a little bit of butter, brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice or just some butter, salt and pepper. They can be enjoyed just like any baked potato, with all the fixings such as sour cream, cheese, chives, and bacon. Or, if you prefer, you can eat them entirely by themselves with nothing extra at all! Sweet potatoes have a lovely, sweet flavor that doesn’t need a lot of extra help.
What are other ways to bake sweet potatoes?
One of the most traditional ways to bake sweet potatoes is chopped into chunks and then marinated in brown sugar and topped with marshmallows. This traditional Thanksgiving dish, also known as candied yams, is a great way to enjoy a different way of baking sweet potatoes than you might normally think of!
Are sweet potatoes also yams?
While factually sweet potatoes are not the same thing as yams, in American grocery stores there is no real difference between the two tubers other than their color. The two names are virtually synonymous for the purposes of cooking so if you go to the store and you can’t find sweet potatoes then go ahead and pick up a yam! You’ll be able to bake it exactly the same way!