Mixed Greens Blog

Mixed Greens Blog
Living Sustainably in the Pacific Northwest


I Yam A Sweet Potato

At least I think I yam.

If you’re confused about what’s a sweet potato and what’s a yam you’re not alone. When I poked around to *clarify their identities I thought I had it, and then went to the grocery store. Their labels contradicted my research.

I think, I’m pretty sure, this photo correctly labels sweet potatoes and yams. But then, there are sweet potatoes with white skins and yams with red. Their identities will probably remain shrouded in some mystery. Somebody should do a documentary.

A Red Garnet sweet potato, a yam in the middle, and a Jewel sweet potato in the background.

While tomatoes are on the way out, sweet potatoes are in. Concurrently, some farmer’s markets have had local sweet potatoes the past few weeks along with a few (hothouse?) tomatoes. Sweet potatoes can be stored for weeks in a dark, cool place so if you find them locally buy a bunch. Or, sweet potatoes from elsewhere are here year round.

Nutritionally speaking, sweet potatoes are the deal. High in fiber, vitamins A and C, and with a low glycemic index which make them a healthy choice for diabetics. For the record, the creamy flesh of a freshly baked sweet potato is rich in texture and flavor as is. Try just that if you want something super healthy and tasty, unembellished with butter, cream, maple syrup, a little heat . . . or go there with me and don’t look back.

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes Recipe

Here’s a link to Bobby Flay’s version, which was the inspiration. I changed it up with less syrup, butter, cream, and used jalapeno instead of chipotle. Rich enough for me, especially since I’ll probably want some ice cream later on.

Ingredients for two servings: 2 sweet potatoes, baked/ 1/4 – 1/3 C cream or whole milk (add a little more if needed)/ 1 T sour cream/ 1 jalapeno halved and seeded/ 2 T maple syrup/ 1 – 2 T butter/ salt & pepper to taste.

Directions: Bake potatoes at 375 degrees for 40 – 50 minutes or until fork tender/ While potatoes are baking, slice the jalapeno in half lengthwise, remove seeds and place in a pan along with the milk or cream/ Bring to a bare simmer, turn off and let sit/ Remove cooked potato from the oven and slice in half lengthwise/ Let cool for a few minutes and then carefully remove the potato from its skin and place in a bowl/ Save skins/ Remove jalapeno from the milk/ Starting with a quarter cup, add the milk or cream, maple syrup, sour cream, salt and pepper to sweet potato. Mash or stir until smooth, add the additional milk if needed/ Curry powder, chipotle or cumin could be added at this point/ Depending on taste, finely slice the softened jalapeno and add to the mixture, or reserve some for a light garnish.

Divide evenly and spoon mixture back into potato skins. (If skins have torn a little, as some of mine did, no matter. They will adhere to soft mixture once its back in the skin.) Place potatoes on a baking sheet and return to a 375 degree oven until potatoes are browned, about 10 minutes, or place under a medium broil for 5 minutes (or less). Either way, keep an eye on them.

Remove from the oven, garnish with butter and a dab of sour cream (both optional), a sprinkle of cumin, curry or chipotle and a few of the sliced jalapenos. Num. Just decadent enough, still healthy. With fresh greens, a grilled portobello or a piece of chicken, this is dinner.

Sweet Potato Fries Recipe

I wanted to say that these are crisper than before due to the light coating of corn starch in the recipe. Aaah, but I forgot the cornstarch! Delicious either way, but I still don’t know if the cornstarch matters much. I’ll try again in a day or two and will report back about the crispness factor. In the meantime cornstarch stays in the recipe because I’ve heard it works.

Ingredients: 1 medium sweet potato per person, sliced lengthwise into quarters and then halved or quartered again depending on size/ 1/2 t cornstarch, 1/2 t salt, 1/8 t chipotle powder, cumin, or curry per potato, pepper to taste/2 T olive oil per potato

Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees/ In a large bowl or on the parchment-lined baking sheet, toss potatoes thoroughly with oil and dry ingredients, fresh ground pepper to taste/Bake for 15 minutes, then turn with a spatula and cook about 10 more minutes/ Remove from oven/ Add more salt if you like/ Eat as is, or make a quick dip of equal parts mayo and sour cream, chipotle, cumin or curry powder to taste, a squeeze of lemon juice.

Sweet Potato Biscuits. I made these sweet potato biscuits a couple of years ago for Thanksgiving and expect they’ll be on the holiday table for many years to come.

*Sweet Potato or Yam?

Why the confusion? “In the United States, firm varieties of sweet potatoes were produced before soft varieties. When soft varieties were first grown commercially, there was a need to differentiate between the two. African slaves had already been calling the ‘soft’ sweet potatoes ‘yams’ because they resembled the yams in Africa. Thus, ‘soft’ sweet potatoes were referred to as ‘yams’ to distinguish them from the ‘firm’ varieties. The U.S. Department of Agriculture requires labels with the term ‘yam’ to be accompanied by the term ‘sweet potato.”

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2 Responses »

  1. your photos were enjoyed by my daughter and I on a lazy Saturday afternoon! thanks for all the great recipes! Mary and Jasmine

  2. It is that kind of day isn’t it. Thank you, Mary. Glad you enjoyed the visit.