MF Super Foods: Sweet Potatoes
There are plenty of ways to take this lean-guy staple beyond the plain baked spud
It's a nutritional powerhouse—ideal whether you're trying to cut carbs and lose weight, or bulk up and build muscle. We asked chef Nils Noren of The French Culinary Institute and Lyniece North Talmadge, author of The Sweet Potato Lover's Cookbook, for some unique ways to get more sweet potatoes on your plate.
Grab some as a snack . . .
Make your own homemade sweet potato chips. To get started, turn your oven to 375 degrees. While it warms, nuke a couple of medium peeled sweet potatoes for a minute. Cut the warm spuds into very thin slices. "Then toss them with fresh diced herbs—rosemary or thyme is perfect—plus a bit of oil," Talmadge says. Bake them in single layer on a nonstick baking sheet for 30 to 45 minutes, or until crispy. For more flavor, use salt and pepper or a bit of balsamic vinegar.
Eat 'em for breakfast . . .
Try a lean spin on eggs Benedict. Microwave a sweet potato until soft, about 4 minutes. Cut in half and mash insides with a fork. Top with a couple of poached eggs. For a low-cal hollandaise sauce, combine 1/4 cup egg substitute, 1 tbsp light butter, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp dijon mustard, and a dash of cayenne pepper. Warm sauce in the microwave (don't cook too long or it may curdle).
Mix with your rice . . .
For a perfect side to grilled chicken or steak, finely dice a sweet potato and dump it into the water when you start cooking the rice. Let the mixture come to a boil and steam. When done, fluff with a fork, then stir in additional ingredients such as chopped almonds or mint.
Blend them . . .
To make a delicious sweet potato soup, toss a diced onion and 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large pot and cook until tender. Add a dash of curry powder, the flesh of 3 precooked sweet potatoes, and 5 cups of vegetable stock, then bring the mixture to a boil. Let cool, then pour into a blender. Process until smooth. Return to pot. Stir in a cup of coconut milk and 1/2 cup of water. Heat until warm.
Cooking Tips and Tricks
- For grilled spuds: Boil a few whole potatoes in their skin for about 10 minutes. Slice lengthwise into wedges. Brush with olive oil, then place directly on the grill. Cook for one to two minutes on each side, or until crispy.
- For potatoes in a hurry: Prepare a large batch of sweet potatoes. Let cool, then wrap the cooked potatoes individually in plastic wrap or zip-close bags. Toss in the freezer to defrost and eat later on.
- For sweeter potatoes: Go slow and low. Cooking slowly allows the sugars in the potatoes to caramelize and brings out its natural sweetness. Try baking your spuds at 350 degrees for around an hour.
- For a more savory dish: Cook for speed. aim to soften the potato's flesh as quickly as possible, by boiling or microwaving for example. This helps bring out the potato's earthy, less sweet flavor.
Yams vs. Sweet Potatoes
The sweet potatoes and yams you see in most grocery stores are exactly the same! American "yams" are just a different variety of sweet potato, given the alternate name by farmers. True yams are grown in West Africa and New Guinea and, unless you're shopping in a specialty market, you'll likely never run across them in the U.S.