Sweet potatoes are everywhere right now. They’re in every supermarket and on almost every menu I see when eating out in the UK. A decade ago they’d not have been on the menu at all, in fact a decade ago I hadn’t even tried a sweet potato! It’s definitely not a bad thing as the sweet variety is super tasty offering some great vitamins and a lot of manganese. In this blog post I’ll explore why sweet potatoes are so good for you and share 10 easy ways to eat a sweet potato.
The first time I tried a sweet potato
It really has been almost a decade since I first was introduced to a sweet potato! I first tried the delicious sweet potato whilst on holiday in Los Angeles, USA in 2010. The bars served them as fries with marshmallow dip (yep really) and although strange, they were so moreish!
I next received some delicious organic sweet potatoes in our vegetable box and since then I have been hooked on this orange variety of potatoes.
The benefits of sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are so good for you and some people choose them over white potatoes for this reason. I personally choose to enjoy both varieties, but I do have a soft spot for sweet potatoes. Probably because they are so sweet!
Funnily enough my daughter Bella can’t stand them. She also doesn’t like sweetcorn or butternut squash which surprises me as they are the sweetest vegetables, so I’d have thought a child would love them! She loves her greens though and pretty much every other vegetable. My son Reuben, on the other hand, is just like me and can’t get enough of these sweet vegetables and would choose a sweet potato over a white potato when given the choice.
So why are sweet potatoes so good for us?
They are particularly high in vitamin A. One regular sized sweet potato can provide over five times the recommended daily amount of vitamin A, but a white potato contains 0%. For me this is where the sweet potato is a winner!
Some of the reasons we need vitamin A are:
- Great for keeping our skin healthy
- Keeps eyes & skin moist
- Improves night vision
- Boosts our immune function
Sweet potatoes are also much higher in vitamin C than white potatoes, providing over a third of our daily allowance in one serving!
Some of the reasons we need vitamin C are:
- Boosts immune system
- Powerful Antioxidant
- Helps the body absorb iron, particularly non-haem, more readily
- Wound healing
- Anti-aging – vitamin C helps to produce collagen which can keep wrinkles at bay
They are also remarkably high in manganese, providing around 50% of our daily intake in just one medium sized potato. Manganese is great for:
- Optimal skin health & healing skin
- Bone production
- Activating enzymes required for digestion
- Energy production
- A feeling of well-being
Sweet potatoes have lots of benefits, but there are still some things that the humble white potato reigns for, such as containing more iron and potassium. Both types are great for your health and we will continue to buy both to mix it up in our kitchen!
10 easy ways to eat sweet potato
There are so many delicious ways to eat sweet potato. When you first buy a sweet potato, you may be wondering exactly what you can do with it.
Basically, you can do everything with a sweet potato that you can do with a normal potato, and then some. They’re quicker to cook, which I always found surprising as they are a lot harder to cut up. These things are solid, especially the large ones!
Here are my favourite ways to use sweet potatoes that don’t require a chef’s degree:
- Baked sweet potato – I love a white jacket potato, but a sweet jacket potato is quicker to cook in the oven, goes a lot mushier and has such a different taste that it’s a totally different meal.
- Mashed sweet potato – swap your white mash for sweet potato mash for a totally different flavour experience. Vegan sausage with peas and sweet potato mash is delicious.
- Sweet potato roasties – sometimes we mix up our roasties with our roast dinners and have a mixture of white and sweet potato roasties for more interesting flavour.
- Sweet potato wedges – chunky sweet potato wedges are delicious with hummus dip and a pot of mixed seeds to coat them in. I stole this idea from Nandos and it’s so tasty!
- Sweet potato fries – slice them super thin to make fries and keep an eye on them whilst cooking as they cook a lot quicker than white potatoes!
- Sweet potato curry – the ultimate vegan curry! Chunks of sweet potato and chickpeas make a really delicious sweet curry.
- Sweet potato soup – use chunks in a chunky vegetable soup with carrots and butternut squash and warming spices such as cinnamon, ginger and turmeric to create a healthy orange themed autumn soup. I love to make chunky soups, but sometimes I use my Ninja blender to make a more puree style.
- Sweet potato topped pie – swap your vegan Shepherd’s pie white mash to sweet potato mash for a flavour explosion! This is one of our favourite meals as the sweet potato mash makes the whole pie so moreish. We always have second and even third helpings when I make a sweet potato topped pie.
- Sweet potato noodles – if you have a spiralizer then make sweet potato noodles to have a change from pasta noodles. Super delicious when served with a lentil ragu or equally as tasty with a simple pesto. Many supermarkets sell sweet potato noodles ready made in the veg section.
- Sweet potato skins – bake your sweet potatoes and then cut them in half before they get too mushy, scoop out the middle and mash with vegan cheese and herbs or spices. Pop them back in the oven, drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil and bake until the cheese is golden. Serve with salsa or hummus to dip.
Hopefully these easy sweet potato cooking ideas will show you how versatile the sweet variety is. These are super easy to make and in most cases you’re just swapping the white potatoes you’d usually use for a sweet potato instead. Once you see the amazing sweet flavour they can bring to your meals you’ll be using them in numerous recipes in no time.
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