Although they are both root vegetables, look and taste similar, sweet potatoes and yams aren’t even cousins. In fact, sweet potatoes are members of the same family as morning glories, while yams count as part of their family lilies and grasses.
To make it more confusing, not only are sweet potatoes not potatoes, what’s labeled as a yam in your local market is probably a sweet potato, actually. Most real yams are grown in Africa and may only be available in markets selling international foods.
There are hundreds of different kinds of sweet potatoes that come in colors ranging from white to pale orange, to deep orange inside. There are even some purple varieties!
Here are some popular varieties of sweet potatoes:
In North Carolina, where sweet potatoes are a big crop, this is very popular. It’s rose-colored on the outside and has an orange flesh that’s super sweet. You may have served it on Thanksgiving.
This variety, on the other hand, looks almost like a real potato, with pale copper skin and golden-white inside. It cooks up creamy and is awesome in soups and stews.
Sweet potatoes may differ in other ways too. For instance, though you won’t see them marketed that way, one group is starchier and has dry flesh, which means they have a texture more like a baking potato. They usually have a tan skin with light-colored flesh.
Others are considered moist-fleshed—they’re the red-brown-skinned sweet potatoes with the orange flesh. They’re sweeter than the dry-fleshed varieties.
Whatever you call them (or whatever they’re labeled) these fall-winter all-stars share a sweet, starchy flavor, a texture made soft by cooking and nutrients out the wazoo. But if you think of them as always accompanied by brown sugar and mini-marshmallows, you’re missing their wonderful versatility in recipes. You can turn them into patties, pancakes, chips, fries, noodles, salads, muffins and even ice cream!
Here are some tasty, creative recipes from Nutrisystem that use sweet potatoes:
Blueberry Nut Sweet Potato Toast
This recipe turns four slices of a medium sweet potato into the perfect first layer of a naturally sweet breakfast dish (or dessert!) filled with cottage cheese, blueberries, nuts and honey, all topped with cinnamon. It counts as one SmartCarb, one PowerFuel, one Vegetable and one Extra for your Flex Meal.
Mexican Sweet Potato Toast
How about this recipe? Mashed avocado, black beans, low fat Mexican cheese, chili powder and cilantro spread on sweet potato toast? This delicious recipe counts for one SmartCarb, one PowerFuel and one extra.
Sweet Potato Pie “Nice” Cream
This makes for a great substitute for pie at your Thanksgiving meal this year. A frozen blend of bananas and almond milk with a hint of vanilla forms an ice-cream-like treat without gobs of cream-derived fats at just 170 calories.
Sweet Potato Noddle Bowl with Almond Butter Sauce
Simply spiralize a sweet potato into noodle strips and combine with shrimp and spinach, tossing with a to-die-for sauce made with almond butter, low-sodium chicken broth and light soy sauce.
Why sweet potatoes are a superfood you should add to your diet:
Nutrition and health benefits:
Calorie-wise, sweet potatoes are your dream food. On the Nutrisystem program, a half-cup counts as one SmartCarb serving. Naturally sweet, one medium potato clocks in at only 105 calories with a whopping four grams of fiber and, unless you’re drenching it in butter, zero fat. It also supplies 438 percent of your daily value of vitamin A and 37 percent of your daily value of vitamin C, as well as being good a source of important B vitamins, manganese, copper and iron.
There’s also good evidence in medical studies that antioxidant plant chemicals in sweet potatoes may be beneficial in preventing a number of chronic and deadly diseases, including diabetes and cancer.