By Carol Harrison, RD.
If you think sweet potatoes are just for baking, you’re in for a treat! Sweet potatoes are versatile root veggies that can be enjoyed roasted, microwaved, steamed, boiled, sautéed or grilled, and in both sweet and savoury dishes. In fact, you can use them in place of regular potatoes for many recipes.
Good to know: Three cheers for plant scientists! Sweet potatoes typically take three to four months to mature – that’s a long time, considering Canada’s short growing season. Canadian Plant scientists tackled this challenge, and they came up with the “Radiance” sweet potato. This variety not only matures sooner than its American counterparts, but it also has a higher yield, allowing farmers to grow more food on less land.
Canadian sweet potatoes are available year-round. They’re a rich source of beta carotene, which our bodies convert to vitamin A and use to support the immune system, among other health benefits.
Here are some delicious seasonal ideas for enjoying Canadian-grown sweet potatoes:
Springtime dinner: Sheet Pan Pork Tenderloin with Sweet Potatoes and Asparagus
A complete dinner in just one sheet pan – so easy to make, and cleanup is quick. The sweet potato wedges take on a bit of the maple-Dijon flavour as they roast.
TIP: Sweet potatoes are fibre-rich. A medium-size sweet potato provides about four grams of fibre, which helps to keep blood sugar and hunger in check. About half the fibre is in the potato skin, and the rest is in the fleshy part. To clean potatoes, lightly scrub under running water.
Summer appetizers: DIY sweet potato “toasts.” Cut sweet potatoes lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick slices, leaving the skin on to hold their shape. Brush the slices with canola oil, then season with salt and pepper. Broil or grill until cooked through. Cool the “toasts,” then add the toppings of your choice. Use what’s in season, on sale or already on hand to come up with your own creations.
TIP: Go sweet: spread “toasts” with ricotta cheese and top with blueberries and a pinch of cinnamon. Go savoury: spread salmon salad over the “toasts” and top with arugula and thinly sliced radishes or red onion.
Fall and winter breakfasts: hearty veggie breakfast hash. Dice sweet potatoes and bell peppers, then pan-fry them with a little canola oil. Add fresh local corn niblets (or frozen Canadian corn), chopped kale, cooked black beans and Tex-Mex seasoning. Stir-fry until heated through. Enjoy this fabulous veggie hash as a side dish for eggs.
TIP: Make extra veggie hash and use it in nourish bowls, pitas or burritos.
Looking for more ideas? Try:
Your Sweet Potato Cheat Sheet
Is it a yam or a sweet potato? In Canada, we don’t grow yams, yet these veggies are often mixed up. At grocery stores, sweet potatoes are sometimes mislabelled as yams. No wonder so many of us are confused. Let’s set the record straight!
Because both yams and sweet potatoes have skins and flesh with varying colours, the best way to tell them apart is by skin texture. Yams have rough, almost bark-like skins (brown or blackish), and sweet potatoes have smooth, thin skins (white, yellow, orange or purple). One more thing to look for: sweet potatoes have tapered ends, and yams are cylindrical. Now you know!