It’s a good thing I like sweet potatoes. Living in the heart of the biggest sweet potato producing state in the country, I can enjoy sweet potatoes year-round. I usually like sweet potatoes baked, then split down the middle with a pat of salted butter melting into the creamy, orange flesh. Add some green beans, a tall, glass of sweet tea, and you have one filling meal very inexpensively.
North Carolina is the top producer of sweet potatoes in the U.S. There are over 400 sweet potato growers in NC.
This Thanksgiving, I baked both the familiar sweet potato casserole many mistakenly refer to as yams, from a recipe found in a cookbook I have had for years. The addition of orange juice, sets this recipe apart from the traditional casserole topped with marshmallows. Of, course, I always add the marshmallows, my family would have a fit if I deviated too far from the original recipe.
Sweet potatoes and yams are not the same. Yams are a starchy, root vegetable belonging to the Dioscorea genus, and are often imported from the Carribean region. Sweet Potatoes are not acually potatoes either, they belong to the morning glory family; Irish potatoes belong to the nightshade family.
The holidays wouldn’t be the same without a side dish of marshmallow topped sweet potato casserole or a sweet potato pie for dessert. And though pumpkin pie holds the top spot for favorite Thanksgiving desserts, many never consider sweet potato pie for their holiday table. Well, I am not a fan of pumpkin, there is something in the texture that makes it unpalatable for me, sweet potatoes are firmer and have a taste that is much smoother in my opinion, and with just a hint of spice, unlike pumpkin pie that holds an aftertaste from to much added spice.
The flesh of sweet potatoes come in many colors that vary from white to orange, and even a deep purple!
Although I have never ventured furter than baking my sweet potatoes for supper, they can be cut, cubed and roasted, baked, sauteed, and served in a variety of ways. And since sweet potatoes are considered diabetic friendly, many people can enjoy them without worrying about spikes in their blood sugar as with the tradtional Irish potato. I feel so much better when I choose sweet potatoes for supper than a white potato covered in salt, butter and sour cream.
Sweet potatoes are high in beta carotene, vitamins A and C. They are also high in minerals iron, potassium, and vitamin B6. A medium sized sweet potato has only 100 calories.
I have included two of my favorite sweet potato recipes here. I hope you will enjoy them as much as my family and I have.
Never store sweet potatoes in the refrigerator! They will become hard and produce an unpleasant taste. Keep them in a cool, dry, airtight container for best results. Keep them away from sources of heat. Sweet potaoes can be stored up to 2 weeks.
Sweet Potato Casserole
3 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes, skins removed
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tbps. melted butter
cinnamon to taste
3 tbps. melted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350*. Grease a baking dish. In a mixing bowl, combine the sweet potatoes, orange juice, milk, vanilla, sugar, salt, 3 tbps. melted butter, and cinnamon. Beat until fluffy, and pour into prepared baking dish.
If topping is desired, in a seperate bowl, add 3 tbps. melted butter, brown sugar, flour, and pecans. Mix together. Sprinkle mixture over potatoes and bake at 350* for 35 minutes. Remove from oven.
Add marshmallows if desired after casserole is baked. Return to oven for 2 minutes, maximum. Keep an eye on it as they can catch and burn quickly!
February is National Sweet Potato Month!
North Carolina Sweet Potato Pie
1 & 1/2 cups sweet potatoes
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 light brown sugar
4 tbps. sofened butter
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 large egg
5 tbps. instant vanilla pudding
Peel sweet potatoes, cook until soft and easily mashed with a fork. Beat with mixer untl free of lumps. Add remaining ingredients and beat well. Pour into unbaked 9 inch pie crust. Bake at 450* for 10 minutes; lower baking temperature and continue to bake at 350* for 30 minutes.
Recipe from NC Department of Agriculture.
Facts about sweet potatoes from North Carolina Sweet Potatoes & Sweet Potatoes.com
http://www.sweetpotatoes.com for facts and recipes