Monday, November 23, 2009


I really wanted to get this out there before Thanksgiving, to try and entice some of my American readers to eat more sweet potatoes, but alas.

So, I feel like I need a couple of disclaimers right of the bat, and we'll start with this: I used to HATE sweet potatoes. It's true. Part of it came from working at a produce warehouse. For those of you who haven't, let me in on a little secret: sorting cases and cases and cases of rotten sweet potatoes is the most disgusting job ever. Worse than blown out citrus, worse than the end of tomato season, hell, I can't even think of anything almost that bad to add to this list! So when I already have an aversion to sweet potatoes, and then I get to deal with these horrible... well, I really ought not describe it. Point is, I was near ruined. I had never really cared for the taste, and the texture was by far not my favorite, and I really never understood why we couldn't just have yukon golds, and then the job, and there you go. Over it. No sweet potatoes for me.

And then two things happened.

First was the fact that our local, wind powered, super all awesome fast food restaurant Burgerville made Sweet Potato French Fries, and I found out about it, and I tried them, and they were awesome. (though the Artic Circle in McMinnville also has them too, I've now found, and they're better) Not that I'm really advocated fast food on a health blog, am I? (for those not around from around here, neither of these restaurants are your typical fast food places, and let's be honest, sometimes you're out driving and you get hungry, and that Banh Mi place with the drive through is a little too far away, and a delicious fish sandwich sounds perfect, right?)

The second, of course, is that learned that they are amazingly good for you. And you know me, sold on the taste of something when that taste transforms into the taste of not getting sick.

i.) VITAMINS! Beta-Carotene, B, C, Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Phosphate, Magnesium! Sweet potatoes are more jam packed with vitamins than damn near anything, and we all love vitamins.

ii.) FIBER! Definitely helpful for when you haven't been eating as healthfully as you should be.

iii.) ULCERS! The combination of vitamins and fiber helps sooth the savage belly beast, as well as helps clean things out, as constipation has been shown to increase stomach pressure, as well as shown to increase your body's production of acid, which could aggravate ulcers further, as well as agitate acid reflux.

iv.) Diabetes! Early testing shows that sweet potatoes have been shown to balance blood sugar levels as well as lower insulin resistance. These results are based on preliminary animal testing, and so are not one hundred percent something I'd vouch for, but it's a good sign for people wanting something sweet, that's not a chemical or a potentially bad for them sugar. And I'm assuming when they say that sweet potatoes might be beneficial for diabetics, they aren't talking about having them covered in brown sugar and marshmallows.


So, here's the part where I am the wrong person to ask. I legitimately can not get behind some of the ways a lot of people like sweet potatoes: all mashed potatoey with sugar and marshmallows, any texture at all that is mashey is really not my cup of tea. It's strange, because I love mashed potatoes, and I love sweet things, but for some reason the idea of sweet mashed potatoes doesn't do it for me. And no, I also don't like sweet potato pie. I KNOW. I'm totally doing it wrong. Really sorry. There are a lot of people that REALLY love sweet potatoes that are totally in love with the way their mom or dad made it, and that's fine. Have at it. And honestly, the first person who passionately posts a recipe in the comments section will inspire me to edit this, and post it here. But don't get mad when I don't make it for myself.

What I do with them, honestly, is try to make them like I would a potato. Baked. Fried. In soups. And around savory ingredients. Aside from being in love with sweet potato french fries (which I'm sure takes away a bit of the health benefits, but I'm also sure that it is better for me than eating regular old french fries), my favorite thing to do with sweet potatoes is to add them to a massively spicy dish. Savory, and spicy, with that sweet in there to offset and make interesting, I've been making my vegetable soups with habaneros and pepper, cumin and mushrooms, and with sweet potatoes boiled to the same texture that I would a russet or a yukon gold. It's a potato soup with the added benefit of a sweetness to combat the blindingly hot pepper, and the savory earthy flavors of the rest.

Am I trying to get you to fall in love with sweet potatoes the way I like them? No, not at all. Make pies till your heart's content. Make sweet potatoes however you like. You should eat them, they're good for you. I'm just happy that I found a way that these healthy little guys can be something I can stomach. And don't judge me. I've heard some of you don't like mushrooms. THAT'S insane.


  1. I have to say, I'm loving this blog. I also LOVE sweet potatoes... one of my favourite ways to eat them is in a spinach salad. I just microwave them for five minutes until they're soft, cube them, and toss them with spinach, some walnuts, and some kind of vinagarette. They're also great mashed with a little bit of maple syrup, butter, and salt. Totally one of my 'desert island' foods!

  2. Okay, I LOVE sweet potatoes. My two fave uses of sweet potatoes:

    1. baked like you would a potato. serve with some butter & sour cream (Nancy's is the best!) or plain yogurt.

    2. a healthier version of Burgerville fries: slice the sweet potato into wedges, put in a single layer on a baking sheet & toss with just a tbsp or two of olive oil & some salt. Roast in 375/400 degree oven for about 45 min or done to your liking. This is a good side dish for catfish.

    I tend to like the more orange-y sweet potatoes (as opposed to the white one you have in your picture), too. There's the whole yam/sweet potato thing, too - I think what we have in stores here are all different sweet potato varieties (even though some are labeled yams) and supposedly a true yam is only available in Africa.

  3. Who doesn't like mushrooms?! That's just insane!

    Mushrooms are awesome!

  4. Anne: I'll totally give the salad a try sometime, but I really try to downplay the sweetness, not add to it. I'm not sure why, it's just the way I am.

    Maija: Yes, there are sweet potato yams, and Japanese sweet potatoes, and garnet yams, and there's at least a couple other varieties that I can't remember. But the whole yam/sweet potato thing is such a clusterfuck of misnomers that I just don't know how to deal with it. Everywhere except North America, they're called sweet potatoes, even though they're not related to potatoes. In North America, they're called sweet potatoes OR yams, even though they aren't related to yams. In the end, my brain hurts.

    The orangier ones ARE better for you, supplying more beta-carotene, which is awesome, but the store I went to before Alicia took this picture didn't have the organic version of those, and since I planned on eating it afterwards, I went with the yellower one.

    Luna: I KNOW, RIGHT?

    EVERYONE: My friend brought me a bag of Terra "Sweets & Beets" chips tonight. So in love. Thank you Double for giving me a healthier way to eat junk food.

  5. Sweet Potatoes are really awesome, the only downside being that they can take a while to cook. I will usually throw a tray of regular potatoes and sweet potatoes in the oven if I am roasting a butternut squash, since they can last for several days in the fridge.
    Sweet Potatoes do make a lovely addition to curry! The last batch I made, I pureed a sweet potato and an acorn squash and added it to my curry paste, liquid stock and coconut milk. I find that this allows you to use less coconut milk and still achieve a sweet creamy balance to the spicy curry goodness.
    I have also used sweet pototoes in my mashed potatoes before with great results. 2 sweet potatoes for every 4 potatoes and 2 carrots, some (lots) garlic, sage, and thyme. Whip with hand mixer, fold in plain yogurt or sour cream and chopped green onions, salt and peper to taste.
    Lastly, sweet potatoes are great served as breakfast potatoes. Fried in some olive oil, shallots, red pepper, serrano pepper, herbs and garlic. Awesome!

  6. i just found your blog through bread&honey, and i am in LOVE. this is awesome.
    i love sweet potatoes, and the best way for me is just baked, with butter and salt. but! for extra lovely potatoes, do this to them:

    except! what i did was omit the sugar and add hella cayanne pepper. cayanne+lime+molasses+sweetpotatoes=AWESOME.

  7. Tempest: That mashed potato recipe totally made my mouth water. Love it.

    Tea: I'm thinking baked with butter, salt, and cayenne pepper now. That sounds delicious.

  8. Very nice post. Thanks. Click here for help with diabetes.