A few years ago, our office purchased a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share from a local farm. In one weekly box, there was a sweet potato. A huge one! As tall as a plastic water bottle, weighing between 2 and 3 pounds. While Illinois is not a top commercial sweet potato producer, varieties do grow here.
Nutritionally, a medium sweet potato contains around 130 calories, 30g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, and is a source of vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, folate, potassium, and magnesium. Unlike many veggies, sweet potatoes do have a significant amount of sodium, around 300mg per medium potato. On its own, sweet potatoes are not a significant source of fat or protein.
While sweet potatoes - fresh or canned - are sometimes advertised as "yams," yams are different from sweet potatoes. Check out this Good Growing article from Illinois Extension on the differences between the two.
- Whole: Look for whole sweet potatoes that are large and heavy. Avoid sweet potatoes that are wrinkled, have cracks, or have obvious soft spots or mold.
- Canned: Many canned sweet potatoes are sold canned in syrup, which means added sugar. Some of this sugar can be poured off before using in recipes.
- Frozen: Find sweet potato fries and plain cubed sweet potatoes in your freezer section. Read the ingredient list to know what else besides sweet potatoes are in the bag.
- Snacks: Sweet potatoes are a popular food and ingredient. Find sweet potato chips and sweet potatoes mixed into crackers and other snacks. Take a look for how much added sodium and fat may be added to these snacks.
- Price: Fresh sweet potatoes average $1.05 per pound, according to the USDA.
- Store: Store whole sweet potatoes at room temperature in a dark, cool place. They may last up to a month.
- Prepare: Wash the outside of a fresh sweet potato to remove surface dirt and debris. While the skins are edible, they can have a bitter flavor.
- Preserve: The National Center for Home Food Preservation has directions on canning, freezing, and drying sweet potatoes.
- Eat: Sweet potatoes work well in sweet and savory recipes. As mentioned in the title, I've gathered several recipes from across the country from fellow state Extensions. Enjoy!
Sweet Potato Bread | Print recipe
Roasted Root Vegetables | Print recipe
Sweet Potato Casserole | Print recipe
Sweet Potato Pie Filling | Print recipe
Tiger Fries | Print recipe
Recipes from Other Cooperative Extensions
This is not a complete list of sweet potatoes from Cooperative Extension Services around the country.
Visit search.extension.org to search for other recipes.
- Cranberry and Spinach Sweet Potatoes | Recipe
- Honey Glazed Sweet Potatoes | Recipe
- Mashed Sweet Potatoes | Recipe
- Chicken, Sweet Potato, and Green Bean Packets | Recipe
- Sweet Potato and Black Bean Quesadillas | Recipe
- Sweet Potato Patties | Recipe
- Louisiana State University AgCenter, Louisiana Sweet Potatoes/Yams, N/D.
- North Dakota State University, Prairie Fare: Sweet Potatoes Provide a Bushel of Nutrition, N/D
- University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Sweet Potatoes, N/D
- US Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service, National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference
Healthy Eats and Repeat
How much difference is there between canned and frozen foods? How should you cook venison? When is the best time to buy avocados? Get answers to these questions as well as other tips, tutorials and recipes for common kitchen foods and items with University of Illinois Extension Nutrition & Wellness Educator Caitlin Mellendorf’s blog Healthy Eats and Repeat. Build your best life. Trust Extension to help.
Caitlin Mellendorf is an Illinois Extension Nutrition and Wellness Educator serving DeWitt, Macon and Piatt Counties in Central Illinois. She is a Registered Dietitian and her work focuses on helping community members gain the knowledge, skills and tools to live healthier, more nutritious lifestyles. This includes providing programs and answering questions about heart health, diabetes, food safety, food preservation, grocery shopping and cooking. You can reach Caitlin by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 217.877.6042. Check out her nutrition blog Healthy Eats and Repeats for seasonal recipes and of an exploration of common kitchen foods.