Sweet potatoes are starchy and moist with a rich, sweet flavor. They are also packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, and phytochemicals. The delicious flavor and extensive nutritional benefits are certainly good reasons to learn how to cook sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes contain an abundance of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is found in brightly colored vegetables, so sweet potatoes with brightly-colored flesh are the best sources. Select sweet potatoes that feel heavier than their size suggests. The heaviness means the flesh inside is dense and will probably have a moist, soft interior. Avoid sweet potatoes that have sprouts or bruising.
Yam and sweet potato are terms that are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same vegetable. There are over 6,500 sweet potato strains. They are usually oval-shaped and tapered with yellow, orange, red, brown, or purple skin. The flesh of sweet potatoes can be white, pink or red, yellow, orange, or purple. Sweet potatoes with white or yellow flesh are dry and less sweet than the more colorful strains. The purple, red, and orange varieties are used in casseroles and holiday dishes. The white and yellow types are often used in soups.
Sweet potatoes can be eaten without cooking them at all. Some potato strains are not safe to eat raw because they contain a harmful enzyme called solanine. Solanine is destroyed by heat. Sweet potatoes do not contain solanine, so they are perfectly safe to eat raw. Raw sweet potatoes can be mixed into smoothies for additional sweetness and fiber. Uncooked sweet potatoes also make delicious spiral noodles, or swoodles. Swoodles are a good base for gluten-free pasta dishes.
A microwave can be used to cook sweet potatoes quickly. Wash the sweet potato and pierce it with a fork repeatedly. The punctures from the fork tines prevent an explosion of sweet potato inside the microwave. Place the sweet potato on a damp paper towel on the microwave tray or a plate. Microwave the potato for approximately 4 minutes, then check to see if the potato has softened. Keep heating the sweet potato for a minute at a time until it is soft.
Baked sweet potatoes have a soft texture that almost melts when eaten. Wash the sweet potato, and preheat the oven to 400°F. Use a fork to poke holes all around the vegetable. Season the sweet potato with salt and pepper or cinnamon and butter. Wrap the sweet potato in aluminum foil. The wrapped potato can sit on the oven rack or a baking sheet. Bake for 40-60 minutes, or until the sweet potato is the desired texture.
Fun and flavorful sweet potato fries are a great way to encourage children to eat vegetables. Preheat the oven to 400°F while Washing sweet potatoes. Peel the sweet potatoes, and cut them into uniformly-sized slices or wedges. Spread the sliced sweet potatoes evenly across a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle the sweet potatoes with olive oil then season them according to personal preference.
Mashed sweet potatoes can be eaten alone or used in other dishes. Wash 2.5-pounds of sweet potatoes. Boil 1-gallon of water in a large saucepan with a dash of salt. Peel the sweet potatoes, and cut them into chunks. Add the chunks to the boiling water. Boil the sweet potatoes until they can be pierced easily with a fork, which is usually around 15 minutes. Strain the cooked sweet potatoes, and transfer them to a dish. Use a masher or large spoon to mash the sweet potato chunks until they are smooth. The mashed sweet potatoes can be seasoned, topped with pecans and marshmallows, or used in casseroles.
Fried sweet potatoes are a perfect breakfast food or side dish. Wash and peel the sweet potatoes, then cut them into wedges, disks, or fries. Pour 1-inch of olive oil into a deep skillet over medium or high heat. Wait until the oil is hot, then add the sweet potatoes. Avoid crowding to ensure there is some space between sections. Cook the sweet potato sections until they are crispy, then flip and cook until the other side is crispy as well. Sweet potatoes can also be deep-fried. Serve the fried sweet potatoes hot with butter, cinnamon, marshmallows, or seasoning.
Deep-fried sweet potato wedges or fries are an appetizing snack or side dish. Sometimes people never learn how to cook sweet potatoes in a deep-fryer because the oil adds fat and calories. Extra calories can be minimized by using peanut oil, and sweet potato fries are not breaded. Fry sweet potatoes in small batches for 4-5 minutes per batch. Transfer them to a paper towel to drain excess oil, then sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
Sweet potatoes add fiber and nutrients to stir-fry dishes. Leave the skin intact to get the full benefit of the fiber. Several nutritional studies have found that the digestive system absorbs many nutrients in sweet potatoes more efficiently if fatty foods are eaten at the same time. Cooking stir-fry with olive oil provides fat with beneficial fatty acids, vitamin K, and vitamin E. Cook the sweet potatoes beforehand, and add them to the stir-fry when it is almost finished cooking.
Long and slender sweet potatoes are preferable for making toast. Wash and dry the sweet potato thoroughly. Remove debris and bits of skin or root from the skin. Slice the sweet potato lengthwise into thin slices. Put the slices in a toaster on the highest setting, and repeat 2-3 times to ensure they are thoroughly cooked. A toaster oven is an easier alternative method to toast sweet potatoes. Arrange the slices on the toaster oven rack, and toast them on the highest setting for approximately 5 minutes.