By Katie Walsh for HellaWella.com
Last Thanksgiving, we made a command decision: Sweet potatoes would no longer be relegated to gluttonous holiday meals. And why should they be? These starchy, orange-fleshed root veggies are a triple threat: cheap to buy, easy to prepare and bursting with nutritional benefits.
Oh yeah, and did we mention they’re absolutely delicious?
Sweet potatoes are believed to have originated in Central and South America as early as 750 B.C., and have been farmed as a domesticated crop for thousands of years. Once associated almost exclusively with Thanksgiving dinner, sweet potatoes have come into their own at home and in restaurants across the country.
Available year-round, these nutritional powerhouses are overwhelmingly good for you. They’re loaded with vitamins A and C, and also pack a punch when it comes to potassium, fiber and several B vitamins. In addition, sweet potatoes contain a number of antioxidants, including a high concentration of beta-carotene. Collectively, these nutrients boost immunity, serve as anti-inflammatories, reduce risk of digestive problems and help regulate blood sugar, among other benefits.
Need we say more?
Next time you need a healthy snack or side dish, bake a sweet potato — it’s as simple as 1-2-3:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using the tines of a fork, poke several holes in a scrubbed sweet potato, wrap it in foil and place it on a baking sheet.
- Bake the sweet potato for 35 minutes. Then start checking the sweet potato every five minutes — it’s done when it is slightly soft to the touch, but not mushy.
- Unwrap the sweet potato and slice it lengthwise. Using a fork, mash it in a bowl with a dash of butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Enjoy!
Did you know?
- Perfectly edible, sweet potato skins are even better for you than the flesh.
- Including butter or EVOO — not too much! — is key because the presence of fat increases our intake of the critical antioxidant beta-carotene.
- Sweet potatoes are not the same thing as yams, a common misconception.
- Don’t be afraid to get versatile — sweet potatoes can be roasted, steamed, mashed or baked as fries.