Sweet potatoes (or yams) are an incredibly healthy vegetable, packed with a huge amount of vitamins and minerals. But what is the healthiest, and best, way to cook them? They are so versatile that they can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes, and there is a huge variety of different recipes that use sweet potatoes. But, if you are looking for the healthiest way to cook sweet potatoes on their own, and the best way to cook them to release their myriad health benefits, then read on.
What You'll Learn Today
Health Benefits Of Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are an incredibly healthy vegetable, packed with even more good stuff than their cousins, the standard potato.
Sweet potatoes are starchy, and contain a lot of dietary fibre which is good for the digestion, as well as complex carbohydrates, beta-carotene (an excellent source of Vitamin A), Vitamin B5, Manganese and Vitamin C.
They are also high in antioxidants, the agents that help protect your body from free radicals that may cause cancer and other chronic diseases.
Sweet potatoes can help your eye health too, thanks to the Vitamin A in the beta-carotene, which can help prevent damage to your eye cells.
Interestingly, sweet potatoes have also been shown to have an effect on memory and learning, by reducing inflammation in the brain – however this effect has only been studied in mice.
You may have to stick to a revision timetable rather than relying on sweet potatoes to help you pass your exams!
Boiling sweet potatoes is a very easy and effective way of cooking them. You can either leave the skins on, as there is a lot of nutrition in the skins, or you can easily peel them if you prefer to have boiled sweet potatoes without skins. Removing the skins will certainly give you a creamier mash! Boiling sweet potatoes is easy and quick:
- Cut the potatoes into chunks, having either peeled them or left the skins on.
- Place them into a pan and cover with water. Add a good pinch of salt.
- Bring the water to boil, then turn the heat down to medium and let the potatoes simmer for 15-20 minutes or so, until they are soft.
- Drain the water by pouring the contents of the pan through a colander.
- Either serve them as they are, or mash with a good scoop of butter, and a little salt and pepper.
Boiling sweet potatoes is a really simple and quick way of producing a delicious bowl of nutrition. However, it may not the tastiest way to cook them – you will experience the delicious taste of sweet potatoes in a very simple way, but there are more flavourful ways to enjoy them.
Baking sweet potatoes is very easy – in fact it is probably the easiest way of cooking one. Very little effort is required – simply pre heat the oven, pop a sweet potato onto a baking tray, then sit back and wait for half an hour!
One great thing about roasting the sweet potatoes is that you usually leave the skins on, meaning that you can benefit from all the extra nutrients.
There are a few different ways of baking sweet potatoes:
- Simple baked sweet potato really is as simple as placing one on a baking tray (they contain more moisture than ordinary potatoes, so they shouldn’t just be placed on the oven rack as they might drip), waiting for it to be soft. About 25 minutes should do it.
- You can cut your sweet potatoes into wedges, drizzle with a little oil and salt and pepper, and enjoy as a healthier version of potato wedges.
- Slice the potatoes into thin match sticks, add the tiniest splash of oil, and roast them slowly as sweet potato chips.
Baking sweet potatoes releases their soft creamy texture, as well as combining with cooking fat to help release the Vitamin A.
Also, the baking process seems to render the delicious taste of sweet potatoes even more palatable. Just be careful not to overdo it on the cooking oil, as sweet potatoes release moisture as they are cooking, and if you add too much oil you may end up with a soggy mess!
Sweet Potato Recipes
Sweet potatoes retain most of their goodness when they are cooked with a little fat – think of coconut oil, olive oil, or avocado oil – the addition of this fat means that more of the Vitamin A in the beta-carotene is available, as it is a fat soluble nutrient.
- Simple baked sweet potatoes are delicious by themselves, with a smear of butter and salt and pepper.
- You can substitute sweet potatoes for ordinary potatoes to make mashed potatoes, just omit the milk that you would add to standard mash, as the sweet potatoes are naturally moist.
- Sweet potatoes combine really well with peanut butter and coconut milk – simply layer the potatoes with a warmed up mixture of the coconut milk and peanut butter, for an instantly warming and heartening meal.
- Sweet potatoes work perfectly as a topping for dishes like shepherd’s and cottage pies – just prepare them the same way you would a normal pie topping, and enjoy the deliciousness!
Boiling Vs Baking Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are not only tasty and warming, but they are also incredibly good for you (and also for your pets). They are very versatile, and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, and as a substitute for a standard potato – but which is a healthier cooking method, boiling or baking?
The answer is that they are pretty healthy no matter how you cook them, so the best answer to this question is, which type do you prefer? You will have to cook a lot of different types of sweet potato to work this out – I’m sure this won’t be too much of a trial!