Yay for Yams and Sweet Potatoes

People use the terms yams and sweet potatoes interchangeably, but they are different vegetables. While they are both starchy “tubers”, yams are not as sweet as sweet potatoes and have rougher skin and flesh. The orange sweet potatoes make a delicious side dish and are good sources of fiber, vitamin A, and potassium. Yams contain fiber, potassium, manganese, copper, and antioxidants and they can often be made the same way as sweet potatoes. Here are ideas for both yams and sweet potatoes.

  1. Roasted sweet potatoes. Roasted sweet potatoes will yield a crispier texture than sweet potatoes, making them a perfect side dish to grilled fish, chicken or burgers. Clean the skins and slice a few sweet potatoes into wedges. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle seasoned salt, cinnamon, and cumin over them. Roast them for 30 minutes on 375 degrees. Japanese yams are also delicious for roasting. You can interchange them with this recipe.
  2. Mashed sweet potatoes with ginger. This is an excellent side dish for holidays or fall dinner. Peel 4 large sweet potatoes and cut into 2” chunks. Boil sweet potatoes for 25 minutes or until soft. Drain the water and add ¾ cup orange juice, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and 1 Tbsp. grated ginger or ginger paste. Mash the sweet potatoes mixing the ingredients in. More juice, cinnamon or ginger can be added if desired.
  3. Black bean and sweet potato salad. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Peel and cut 1 lb. of sweet potatoes and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle 1 Tbsp. olive oil over the sweet potatoes. Season with ½ tsp. ground cumin, cayenne (optional) and salt. Roast sweet potatoes for 25-30 minutes. In a separate bowl, whisk together 2 Tbsp. lime juice and 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Add 1 (15 oz) can black beans (drained and rinsed), ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro and ½ chopped red onion. Add roasted sweet potatoes to beans and toss to coat.
  4. Garlic roasted sweet potatoes with Parmesan. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Dice 1 lbs. of cleaned sweet potatoes into 1” cubes. In a small bowl, mix 1 Tbsp. canola oil, 1 clove minced garlic, 1 tsp. dried thyme, and 1 tsp. oregano. Add the diced sweet potatoes and toss to coat. On a large baking sheet, place the sweet potatoes and bake for 15 minutes, then toss and bake another 15 minutes. Once out of the oven, sprinkle 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese over the sweet potatoes and serve.
  5. Sweet potatoes pancakes. This is a great way to use mashed sweet potatoes or you can start from scratch. Peel, clean and cut 1 lb. of sweet potatoes. Boil for 15-20 minutes until soft. Set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, add 1 cup all-purpose flour, ½ cup whole wheat flour, 3 ½ tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. cinnamon. In a separate bowl, mix sweet potatoes, 2 eggs, 1 tsp. vanilla and 1 cup milk together. Blend the flour and sweet potato mixture together. Using a griddle or non-stick skillet, drop a ¼ cup of sweet potato batter to cook the pancakes. Serve hot with maple syrup or honey.
  6. Maple rosemary sweet potatoes. You’ll love the savory/sweet combination. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup. Peel and cut 3 large sweet potatoes into 1” chunks and place in a mixing bowl. Add 2 Tbsp. canola oil, ¼ cup real maple syrup, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. black pepper, 1 Tbsp. dried rosemary. Toss the sweet potatoes to coat them, then spread out on the baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes until golden.
  7. Sweet potato hash browns. Clean and grate 1 lb. sweet potatoes and place in a mixing bowl with 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. black pepper. Mix the ingredients together. Heat a medium cast-iron skillet with 4 Tbsp. corn oil. Using a 1/3 cup measure, scoop the sweet potato mixture and fry it in hot oil, flipping to brown both sides.
  8. Roasted sweet potato and kale salad. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Clean and cut 2 large sweet potatoes into 1” cubes and place in a bowl with 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Toss sweet potatoes to coat, then roast on baking sheet for 20-25 minutes until sweet potatoes are soft. Set aside to cool. In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil and cook 1 sliced yellow onion, 3 cloves minced garlic and 1 bunch cleaned, ripped kale for about 10 minutes until onions are caramelized and kale is wilted. Place kale mixture in a bowl and place in frig to cool for about 30 minutes. Combine sweet potatoes and kale mixture and add 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar and 1 Tbsp. dried thyme. Toss to coat and serve.
  9. Turkey chili with sweet potatoes. Using a large soup pot, cook 1 lb. ground turkey and drain fat. Add 1 small chopped onion, 2 cloves minced garlic, and 1 large diced yellow pepper. Add 1 Tbsp. chili powder, 2 tsp. cumin, and 1 Tbsp. salt and cook for 3 minutes. Add 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced, 2 cans dark red kidney beans (drained/rinsed), 1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes and 3 cups water. Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes until sweet potatoes are fully cooked. Season with cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes.
  10. Green eggs n yams. Heat 2 Tbsp. canola oil in a large skillet. Add 4 cups grated yams, 1 clove minced garlic, ¼ tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. oregano. Cove and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add 2 cups chopped fresh spinach leaves and cook 2 minutes until greens are wilted. Using a spoon, make 4 wells in the yam mixture. Add 1 egg to each well and cover the skillet. Cook eggs for ~5 to 7 minutes until eggs set. Eggs can be cooked longer if harder yolks desired.
  11. Slow cooker yam and black bean chili. In a crockpot, combine 1 medium chopped red onion, 1 chopped red bell pepper, 4 minced garlic cloves, 1 Tbsp. chili powder, 1 Tbsp. cumin, 2 tsp. cocoa powder, 1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes with green chilies, 2 cans black beans (drained and rinsed), 1 large yam, peeled and diced and 1 cup water. Cook on low heat for 6-8 hours. Salt and pepper to taste.
  12. Candied yams. Last but not least, dessert! Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Peel and chop 5 yams and set aside. Melt 6 Tbsp. butter in a large pan and add 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1 tsp. allspice, 1 ¼ cups brown sugar, and 1 Tbsp vanilla extract. Add the seasoned buttered mixture to the yams then place them in a 9 x 13” pan. Cover the baking dish and bake for 30 minutes until the mixture is bubbly. Enjoy!

Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD

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