Chock-full of essential nutrients including vitamins A and, the sweet potato has become a sweetheart of American meals. It’s among the most versatile of veggies in the produce section, as these recipes will prove, and it’s easy to find year round. Just don’t call it a yam.
If a sweet potato could talk, it likely would tell you this: “I yam not your typical tuber!”
True enough, sweet potatoes are pretty darn special. They also are not yams, though it’s an understandable misunderstanding. The name “yam” was assigned to the orange root vegetables several decades ago when producers and shippers brought them to the U.S. from Central America. Actual yams, or nyami, are pale and come from Africa, South America and the Caribbean.
The distinction between the two veggies is important, especially when it comes to child nutrition. Sweet potatoes have higher concentrations of essential vitamins and nutrients that foster good development.
And heck, they are highly versatile and taste good to boot. Sweet potatoes can be boiled, baked, roasted and puréed. Fun fact: You can even eat them raw. But don’t try that with a yam; they are toxic if eaten uncooked.
Sweet On the Eyes, Bones and Skin
Here’s another fun fact about sweet potatoes: Though typically orange, they also comes in white, red, pink, violet, yellow and purple. So if you can fund a pink potato for Valentine’s Day, go for it. Also, sweet potatoes are only distantly related to regular potatoes – though both taste great mashed!
Following is a simple nutritional profile of this sweetie-pie of a veggie.
Beta-carotene: This important antioxidant is necessary to lifting vitamin A levels in our blood. Just 3.5 ounces of sweet potatoes will deliver the daily-recommended amount of vitamin A, which helps maintain good vision and eye health.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a super-strong antioxidant, meaning it helps build immunity against colds and other illness. It also helps little knees and elbows heal faster when cut.
Potassium and magnesium: Potassium goes to work supporting a kid’s muscles and nervous system. Kids need manganese for healthy growth, development and metabolism.
Fiber: Natural fiber is important for helping to keep kids regular in the bathroom. It also fills them up and satisfies their hunger for longer.
Sweet on Fries, Tots and Taquitos
Perhaps the greatest nutritional benefit of sweet potatoes, however, is the many ways to make them taste good. Following are a few easy-peasy sweet potato recipes that your kids will be sweet on. Enjoy!
Baked Sweet Potato Fries
A healthy alternative to French fries that the kids can help with.
Cut two pounds of cleaned sweet potatoes into quarter-inch fries. Toss them in a bowl of olive oil treated with garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Spread out on parchment paper and bake in a 450 degree oven for 30 minutes. Top with (or dip in) Zesty Southwest Vegy Vida. Yowza! See the full recipe here.
Sweet Potato Tots
These orange tots are the perfect size for little hands, which can first roll and then dip them!
In a medium bowl combine one grated, boiled sweet potato with garlic salt, onion powder, black pepper and Savory Bacon Vegy Vida. Add potato starch. Ask the kids to roll the sweet potato mixture into tots. Add them to a well-heated skillet of oil. Remove the tots with a slotted spoon onto paper towels and allow to cool. Get the kids to join you in a few rounds of “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes,” to pass them time. Find the full recipe here.
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Taquitos
Yahoo! These Tex-Mex treats require minimum baking. You can cook the sweet potatoes in advance and refrigerate or freeze them.
Gently toss together two heaping cups of cooked, cubed sweet potatoes with black beans, corn and shredded cheddar cheese. In a separate bowl mix together softened cream cheese with an all-natural dip such as Vegy Vida Savory Bacon, Zesty Southwest or Creamy Ranch. Pour the cheese mixture over the veggies and beans and mix to coat. Scoop the mixture into tortillas or soft taco shells, roll them tight and bake in a preheated, 375 degree oven for 15 minutes. Have plates ready to serve with guacamole, salsa or more dip. See the full recipe here.
Lastly, there’s sweet potato pie, a dinner-finishing treat that gives pumpkin pie a run for its filling. Try this seven-ingredient recipe from Parenting. Your kids might just say, “I yam loving these veggies.”