Sweet potatoes are a popular Louisiana vegetable especially during the holiday seasons. Since they are one of the most nutrient packed vegetables, sweet potatoes are a great addition to any meal. Who knew healthy could taste so good?
Sweet potatoes are fat-free and cholesterol free and low in calories. They are rich in antioxidants and high in fiber and vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and folate. Did you know that 1 medium sweet potato provides more than a day’s worth of vitamin A and 35% of the daily amount of vitamin C needed? They are also a good source of complex carbohydrates.
Choose sweet potatoes that are firm and do not have any cracks, bruises or soft spots. Avoid buying raw sweet potatoes that have been kept in the refrigerated section of the produce department since low temperatures affect the flavor of the potatoes. Store sweet potatoes in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place. They will keep fresh for up to 10 days. It is best to store them loose. Do not keep them in a plastic bag. Avoid exposure to sunlight or temperatures above 60 degrees F since higher temperatures will cause them to sprout or ferment. Do not keep raw sweet potatoes in the refrigerator. Once sweet potatoes have been cooked, store them in the refrigerator or freezer. Baked sweet potatoes freeze well in their skins. Just wrap them in foil or place in freezer bags or containers. They can be easily reheated when needed and will taste freshly baked. Most cooked sweet potato dishes freeze well.
Sweet potatoes can be substituted in almost any recipe that calls for apples, squash, or white potatoes. One pound of sweet potatoes makes about 2 cups of cooked, mashed sweet potatoes. Before cooking, wash sweet potatoes to remove any dirt from the skin. It is not necessary to peel them before cooking.
To bake sweet potatoes, poke a few holes in each potato with a fork or knife and rub lightly with oil. Bake medium potatoes for 40 to 50 minutes at 400 degrees F, until soft. It is best not to wrap sweet potatoes in foil when baking. When wrapped in foil, the potatoes become steamed rather than baked. This keeps them from developing the sweet, distinctive flavor of unwrapped sweet potatoes baked in a conventional oven.
You can boil sweet potatoes either peeled or unpeeled. Before boiling, cut into pieces and add to boiling water. Cook 15 to 20 minutes and drain. If you plan to mash sweet potatoes after boiling, you should peel them first.
Sweet potatoes can also be microwaved. Be sure to prick the skin of the potato with a fork or knife a few times. Cook on high, turning the potato halfway through the cooking time. Microwave cooking times vary so check the manual for your microwave oven for cooking times.
The sweet potato is one of Louisiana’s most important agricultural commodities. Many families include this tasty vegetable on their holiday menus. It is a dish that adds nutrition as well as being delicious. Will it be on your table this holiday season?
Sweet Potato Cheese Ball
1 (8 ounce) package light cream cheese
2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
½ tablespoon minced jalapeno pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon pepper sauce
¼ cup minced onions
¼ cup finely chopped pecans
1 teaspoon granulated onion
Soften cream cheese to room temperature. Boil sweet potatoes in skins until tender; peel, mash, and cool. Combine mashed sweet potatoes and cream cheese. Add remaining ingredients; mix thoroughly. Shape into ball. Chill overnight in the refrigerator. Serve with crackers.