Health benefits of sweet potatoes – colourful and nutritious

My first encounter with sweet potatoes was when my kids were little. I hated the thought of jars of baby food, just the look and smell of the stuff did’t even resemble food. It made sense to me that if my kids were to be brought up on a wide variety of healthy, tasty foods then they would be less picky as they grow older, not to mention the health benefits.

I recall sweet potato mashed with freshly squeezed orange juice being one of their favourites. I used to bake the potatoes in the oven and mix in the juice and stack it in little pots in the freezer. I had a small organic fresh frozen baby food business some years ago and this was one of our bestsellers.

Sweet potatoes originated in Central and South America but the largest producer now is China.

They have been known for their amazing health benefits for some time. But what is it exactly that they contain and how do they benefit our health

Nutrient dense

Sweet potatoes are packed full of nutrients. They are rich in antioxidants and vitamins A, C,E and B6. They are also rich in fibre, and potassium and are beneficial to the digestive system. This is another food that is great for a Vegan intake and getting in those vitamins.

This colouful vegetable is also well tolerated by people with diabetes as it doesn’t’t cause the spike in blood glucose levels that is associated with white potatoes. In considering diabetes steamed than baked.

Why should we include them in our daily intake?

When I research foods and their benefits I always look at populations of people whose diet is rich that food source.

In this case the staple diet of the Okinawaw people (an island owned by Japan) is the purple sweet potato. Their diet consists of a staggering 69% purple sweet potato. They also have one of the highest life expectancy rates in the world.

This intrigues me, is it the fact that people eat locally grown seasonal foods that keeps them disease free? Or is it that pesticides aren’t used? Does it mean that someone in another part of the world could adopt the same diet and live the same long healthy life?

I like to think that we should all be eating seasonal homegrown/local produce wherever we are living. To me this just makes sense. There must be certain times of the year when our body’s need certain nutrients and if we eat local, fresh and seasonal then we should be getting exactly what we need. This philosophy has the added benefit that it helps the environment as there would be less importing of produce less traffic, pollution etc. There is also less call for artificial growing conditions such as adding heat or light to the growing environment.

Cooking with sweet potatoes

There are many varieties of sweet potato to choose from. They add not only nutrition but also colour to our dishes making them an attractive option for kids.

The orange sweet potato is most commonly seen on our supermarket shelves here in Australia. but purple, white and red are also available. My favourite is purple for its taste texture and colour.

Cooking sweet potatoes increases their Vitamin C content. Steaming is preferable as it helps retain their beta carotene. Baked sweet potatoes however are also delicious. Try with a blob of unsweetened coconut yoghurt and nutritional yeast yum!

They can also be added to stews, used to make veggie burgers, or can simply be roasted or made into fries. Add some rosemary and salt and dip in homemade mayo or guacamole.

Recipe Idea

Veggie Burgers

Half to one purple sweet potato

Half cup chickpeas soaked overnight.

Quarter cup of Quinoa

Half an onion

1-2 Garlic cloves

You can also add spices such as chili, cumin, paprika etc

Method

Simply drain and cook the chickpeas. I prefer to soak for longer and cook for less time so I steam mine for around 10 minutes. Steam the sweet potato until soft. Cook the quinoa according to the guidelines and make sure to rinse it first.

If you are using spices cook them in a skillet until fragrant. Remove then from the pan and cook the onion and garlic in a little olive or coconut oil. (If preferred these can be used raw).

Blend all the ingredients and add salt and pepper.

You will have to experiment with the wetness of the mixture. It depends on how much water the potatoes, quinoa and chickpeas are holding as to how loose or firm your mixture is. If you find its too soft try adding more chickpeas or some flax meal.

Once its all blended shape into a pattie and cook in the oven or in a skillet. Just cook until golden brown. Serve with salad, spelt bread or chunky fries.

To keep this dish healthy bake your own bread using organic spelt flour and cook fries in an air fryer with a little olive or coconut oil. Don’t over cook. The safest way is to keep foods just slightly golden.

Sweet potatoes all round

The versatile sweet potato is a must in your intake for colour, taste nutritional content, and it’s amazing health benefits.

It is important when starting out on your health journey that you include lots of healthy delicious alternatives to your old ways. Sweet potatoes are a fantastic way to make changes by substituting for white potatoes. The nutritional value is far superior and the taste is amazing. Kids will love the colour and you can get creative with a wide range of recipes.

Deb’s tips

Persevere with new foods. There will be complaints from the family initially but stay strong and in no time they will be thanking you and begging you for more. As you gradually make changes you will reap the benefits. You will be energised and feel and look younger.

Initially you may feel worse as unhealthy fat stores move into your bloodstream ready for elimination. Make changes gradually and you are more likely to maintain them. This is lifestyle not a diet!

Keep well and have a lovely day

Best wishes

Deb x (The Organic Nut)