Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes may be one of nature’s unsurpassed sources of beta-carotene with a superior ability to raise our blood levels of vitamin A. This benefit may be particularly true for children. They come in many colors and varieties, all of which are nutritional goldmines. It’s important to have some fat in your sweet potato-containing meals if you want to enjoy the full beta-carotene benefits of this root vegetable.
(FYI: A true yam is a root vegetable belonging to the Dioscorceae family. Sweet potatoes belong to the Convolvulaceae family. It is sweet potatoes we find in the grocery stores although the long orange flesh varieties are often called yams anyway.)
Method #1 My absolute favorite way to make sweet potatoes (and I do prefer the orange flesh varieties for this one) is to scrub them well and put them in a 350 oven for 1.5 hrs. until they are soft all the way through. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Store them uncovered in the refrigerator for up to a week. They taste like candy and can be eaten as a snack or as a side to any meal.
That almost isn’t a recipe. See, I told you it was easy.
Method #2 My second favorite way to make sweet potatoes is to peel them and cut them into 3/4″ chunks. Toss them lightly with olive oil and spread them in a baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes in a 375 oven. This is a better method when you have to get diner on the table in a hurry. Store the leftover in an airtight container for up to a week in the fridge.
Some nutritional benefits from sweet potatoes simply may not be achievable unless you use steaming or boiling as your cooking method. Recent studies show excellent preservation of sweet potato anthocyanins with steaming, and several studies comparing boiling to roasting have shown better blood sugar effects (including the achievement of a lower glycemic index, or GI value) with boiling.
Method #3 This may well be the most nutritious of the 3 methods. Peel and chunk the sweet potatoes. Place chunks in a steamer basket above an inch of rapidly boiling water. Cover tightly and cook for 5-7 minutes or until chunks are soft enough to pierce easily with a fork.
And when picking out your cranberries, be SURE to get organic! Find out why.