Fabulous Fall Foods: Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a major player in the world of superfoods. They’re rich in beta-carotene and vitamin C, both powerful antioxidants that work to prevent and possibly reverse the cell damage caused by free radicals. From baked to mashed, you can enjoy this starchy vegetable starting on Phase 2 of the South Beach Diet. Sweet potatoes (and yams) are most abundant from September through December, but you can find them at your local supermarket year-round. Here are a few tips for buying, storing, and enjoying this versatile vegetable.

Buying Sweet Potatoes

There are two types of sweet potatoes — dry-fleshed and moist-fleshed. The dry-fleshed types tend to be starchier and have a tan or light-colored flesh, ranging from almost white to light yellow. The moist-fleshed sweet potatoes have a dark, red-brown skin and an orange to deep-orange flesh. Look for firm potatoes that do not have any cracks, bruises, or soft spots. Since sweet potatoes can vary in size, choose small ones (4 to 5 ounces) when first reintroducing them to your diet.

Storing Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes spoil easily, so keep them in a cool, dark, and dry place, like a pantry. Refrigeration is not a good idea, as the cold temperature can negatively alter their taste. They should be used within two weeks of purchase.

Enjoying Sweet Potatoes

Since sweet potatoes grow underground, they can collect a lot of dirt. Before preparing, make sure to scrub them thoroughly with a stiff brush. To cook, you can peel, boil, and mash them as you would regular potatoes, or you can roast or bake them (unpeeled) in the oven. Steaming or microwaving also works. If you choose to bake sweet potatoes whole, pierce the skin several times with a fork to prevent an explosion. Sweet potato “fries” are also delicious. Just be sure to bake — not fry — them! Try this delicious Baked Sweet Potato Fries recipe.

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