All About Sweet Potatoes

What’s in the Box?

Violetta, Bradshaw, and Carver Sweet Potatoes

Beet Greens

Chard

Arugula

Kale

Fennel or Sorrel

Broccoli or Raab

All About Sweet Potatoes

Let’s talk sweet potatoes!  Last week you learned a little about how sweet potatoes are propagated.  This week we’re going to talk about the varieties, history, nutrition, and good eatin’!

You received 3 varieties of sweet potatoes this week:

Bradshaw has pink/ rose skin, creamy, sweet, and moist orange flesh, and is good at producing big roots with little irrigation, and was judged to be the sweetest variety in Southern Exchange’s 2011 taste test trials.

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Violetta has purple skin and white flesh.  I myself found this to be the most dense, filling potato with great flavor.

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Carver has copper skin and deep orange flesh.   It was one of the original varieties for the east coast, and is a very reliable grower.

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Yams or Sweet Potatoes?

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Let’s just clear something up- as sweet potato is not a yam.  They’re actually two totally different plants from totally different parts of the world that are in no way related.  Sweet potatoes = Ipomoea batatas, yams=  genus Dioscorea, family Dioscoreaceae– no relation. Sweet potatoes originated in Central and South America, and Yams are primarily from Africa, and a few are found in Asia.  Yams can grow up to five feet long, have blackish or brown bark-like skin, white, purple, or red flesh, and are generally starchier.  You’ve probably never actually seen a yam at the grocery store- it was probably a sweet potato.  For some reason, to distinguish between the firm paler-fleshed sweet potatoes and the softer orange-fleshed ones, they began calling the soft orange-fleshed ones yams, and the firm paler-fleshed ones sweet potatoes.

It should be noted that the African word “yam” means to eat, and that the crop we today call (true) yams is called nyami in Africa, and they do look somewhat similar.  It’s entirely possible that when African slaves began growing soft sweet potatoes, they mistook them for their native nyami, or that there was some mix up with the word “yam”.   Either way, by whatever name, sweet potatoes are awesome!

Nutritional Breakdown of Sweet Potatoes

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), sweet potatoes rank #1 in nutrition.   Wowzers!  Let’s find out why.

calories: 176
fat: 0 grams
carbs: 41 grams
fiber: 3-5 grams
protein: 3 grams
Vitamin A: 735% RDA
Vitamin C: 27% RDA
Calcium: 6% RDA
Iron: 5% RDA
Vitamin E: 7% RDA
Folate: 10% RDA
Vitamin B6: 16% RDA
Pantathenic Acid: 10% RDA
Thiamin: 8% RDA
Riboflavin: 8%RDA
Manganese: 59% RDA
Copper: 16% RDA
Potassium: 19% RDA

Check out that vitamin A content!  With vitamin A’s ability to support and sharpen eyesight, you’ll be able to see your great-great grandchildren if you eat enough of these!  (Disclaimer- sweet potatoes don’t actually give you clairovoyance.)  And it’s important to note, you lose about 25% of the fiber if you don’t eat the skin.  And who wouldn’t want the skin?  Mmm.  But if you still need some encouragement, here’s a great recipe.

Healthy Sweet Potato Skins

Healthy Sweet Potato Skins

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 medium or large sweet potatoes
  • 1½ tablespoons butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 bag fresh baby spinach

I say, use your chard or beet greens in place of spinach.  Maybe even try it with your tangy sorrel, or add a bit of your sweet fennel, and top it off with your chives!

  • ¼ cup light sour cream
  • 2 ounces light cream cheese
  • 1 cup chickpeas
  • ¼ cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Bake sweet potatoes at 350 for 45-60 minutes, or until fork tender.
  2. Cut sweet potatoes in half and let cool for 5-10 minutes. While sweet potatoes are cooling, saute the shallots with the butter over medium heat until translucent. Add fresh spinach and heat for 2-3 minutes, until spinach has cooked down. Set aside.
  3. Scrape the sweet potato out of the peel, leaving a thin layer inside with the skin so that it can stand up on its own. Mash the sweet potato with the cream cheese and sour cream. Stir in chickpeas, spinach, and plenty of salt and pepper.
  4. Coat potato skins with a drizzle of oil and bake for about 5 minutes to get a crispier outside. Remove from oven and fill each skin with the sweet potato mixture and top with shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake again for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and filling is heated through.

Enjoy!

Dara

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