I luv sweet taters (that’s how we say it in Tennessee). There’s nothing better than a big ole’ tater baked to perfection, topped with real butter, and perched on my plate awaiting consumption!
Happy Hoer doesn’t have much experience growing sweet potatoes, but something went definitely right in the tater patch this season. There are some “double headers” in there–that means one potato will feed two heads, and some of the hills have like 8 or 9 good sized potatoes in them. It’s really exciting to go to the potato patch across the pasture, over the creek, and up the hill to see how many potatoes I’ll get in so many hills!
Sweet potatoes aren’t related to white potatoes at all; they are in the morning glory family, whereas white potatoes are in the nightshade family along with tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. If you can get past growing the slips (I’m going to attempt that next season) they are really pretty easy to grow, although they do take up quite a bit of space and quite a bit of time to mature.
I always knew sweet potatoes were good and good for you, but I “googled” them for this blog and found out something amazing–sweet potatoes are ranked the number one most nutritious veggie by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Here’s an excerpt from their info at foodreference.com:
CSPI ranked the sweet potato number one in nutrition of all vegetables. With a score of 184, the sweet potato outscored the next highest vegetable by more than 100 points. Points were given for content of dietary fiber, naturally occurring sugars and complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins A and C, iron and calcium. Points were deducted for fat content (especially saturated fat), sodium, cholesterol, added refined sugars and caffeine. The higher the score, the more nutritious the food.
Sweet potato baked 184
Potato, baked 83
Mixed Vegetables 52
Winter Squash, Baked 44
Brussels Sprouts 37
Cabbage, Raw 34
Green Peas 33
Corn on the Cob 27
Green Pepper 26
Romaine Lettuce 24
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, Washington D.C. copyright 1992
The reasons the sweet potato took first place? Dietary fiber, naturally occurring sugars, complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins A and C, iron and calcium. The sweet potato received a score of 184; the vegetable ranked in second place was more than 100 points behind with a score of 83.
The numbers for the nutritional sweet potato speak for themselves: almost twice the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A, 42 percent of the recommendation for vitamin C, four times the RDA for beta carotene, and, when eaten with the skin, sweet potatoes have more fiber than oatmeal. All these benefits with only about 130 to 160 calories!
One of my favorite ways to prepare sweet potatoes is to peel and slice them into about 1/4 inch slices, peel and slice an onion too, put them in a pan with a little oil. This method is called “slaute” for those who can’t bring themselves to say the word “fry”. It’s kind of like frying, but with not quite as much oil, but you use a little more oil than you do when you saute’. Anyway, cook them until they start to caramelize and turn brown and that taste along with the caramelized onions is scrumptious!
It’s late summer and time for these colorful, underappreciated root crops to start appearing at farmer’s markets and in CSA baskets. Enjoy the fruits of the season, and this time of the season, enjoy number one!