• Melissa Genee, RD

Vegetable of the Month - Sweet Potato

A new month is upon us, which means a new vegetable of the month! And the feature vegetable for November is….. sweet potato!

Sweet potatoes have gained popularity in North America over the last one to two decades, thanks primarily to the infamous sweet potato fry. Sweet potatoes are kid friendly, versatile, and packed full of nutrients. Learn more about sweet potato and ways to use them in your kitchen below.

All About Sweet Potato

The first thing to understand about the sweet potato is that it often faces an identity crisis. Sweet potatoes are often mislabeled as yams in grocery stores, however, yams and sweet potatoes have very distinct origins. Yams are native to Africa and Asia, while sweet potatoes originated from Central and South America. Yams are larger, have white flesh and do not have the distinct sweet flavour sweet potatoes do. To add to the confusion, sweet potatoes are also NOT closely related to the common potato, although they do share a more recent history!

Now that we have that sorted out, let’s get back to the potato at hand. The sweet potatoes we are most familiar with have orange flesh, but other varieties can have white, yellow, purple and red flesh. Skin colours can also range from yellow, orange to dark purple. Sweet potatoes thrive in warmer climates and most of the sweet potatoes we find in Canada are grown in Ontario and the United States, but it is possible to grow them in colder climates (such as Edmonton, Alberta).

When choosing sweet potatoes, choose small to medium sized firm potatoes with smooth skin. Store sweet potatoes in a cool, dry and dark place (such as a pantry or cold room) - there is no need to refrigerate them. Sweet potatoes will keep for about a week, but don’t forget about them because they can start to sprout turning your tasty vegetable into a fast growing house plant.

Why is it good for me?

  • Vitamin A - sweet potatoes have ten times more vitamin A than a white potato! The orange flesh is responsible for the high vitamin A content - contributing to healthy skin and night vision.

  • Vitamin C - acts as an antioxidant and protects cells against damage.

  • Potassium - this mineral is vital for bone, kidney and nerve health.

  • Manganese - this trace mineral is important for bone growth and metabolism.

  • Vitamin B6 - also known as pyridoxine, this water soluble vitamin is important for metabolism as well as brain development.

  • Fibre - a medium sweet potato (with skin) contains 4 grams of fibre or approximately ⅕ of a child’s fibre needs for the day.

Enjoying Sweet Potato

Although most people know about sweet potatoes from their most common form, the sweet potato fry, there are endless ways to enjoy this starchy vegetable.

  • Roast it! My favourite way to enjoy sweet potato is roasting it. Cube the sweet potato (keep the skin on for added nutrients), toss with olive oil and roast on a baking sheet for about 30 minutes. To accentuate the sweet flavour, try adding a bit of honey and cinnamon before roasting!

  • Enjoy it for breakfast! Sweet potato can be enjoyed for every meal, including breakfast! Try this tasty sweet potato quiche or sweet potato pancakes!

  • Swap it! Sweet potatoes can be swapped for regular white potatoes in many recipes. Try them mashed or baked!

  • Make bread! Have you ever had potato bread? You can also make sweet potato bread. Try this fluffy sweet potato biscuit recipe, perfect for holiday meals.

  • Add it to veggie burgers! Sweet potatoes are a great base for burgers because they bind to other ingredients such as black beans and rice. Try these sweet potato burgers for a healthy and meatless alternative to the traditional burger.

How do you prepare sweet potatoes? Comment below or show us your yummy recipes by tagging us on Instagram (@FLIPprogram) and using the hashtag #FLIPVegetableOfTheMonth.

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