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This blog post is written by University of Illinois Extension intern, Amanda Dieugenio. Amanda is a student at Illinois State University!

As summer comes to a close, (I know, what a bummer!) it is time to start welcoming that fall weather, and along with it, some healthy new fall-inspired recipes! Today, we are going to focus on the sweet potato.

Within the United States, we sometimes refer to sweet potatoes as "yams." However, this is a common mistake; yams and sweet potatoes are actually two different things. Yams are only grown in tropic regions and have very distinct features that differentiate them from sweet potatoes. With a dark outer skin, and white or purple flesh yams do not contain the very beautiful orange color that we associate with sweet potatoes. In addition, when speaking in terms of horticulture classification yams belong to the Lily family, a perennial plant, while sweet potatoes belong to the Morning Glory family. And we all thought yams and sweet potatoes were the same all this time!

Now that we understand the difference between a yam and a sweet potato, let's discuss some of the major health benefits that accompany these delicious, but underrated, beauties. Sweet potatoes contain a large amount of beta-carotene, a phytochemical which gives the potato that distinct orange color but more importantly gets converted to Vitamin A when it enters our system. In addition to that, sweet potatoes provide our bodies with generous amounts of vitamin C, potassium and fiber.

Whether you grew up calling them yams or sweet potatoes here is a delicious recipe that is a perfect blend of summer and fall to help bridge the gap!

Stuffed Sweet Potato (Printable PDF)

1 large sweet potato

½ cup chicken breast, cooked and shredded

¼ teaspoon chili powder

¼ teaspoon cumin

1 Tablespoon shredded nonfat mozzarella cheese

¼ of an avocado, diced

2 scallions, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Poke holes all over the sweet potato with a fork. Bake on a baking sheet for 45-50 minutes or until soft. Once potato is done, cut a slit in the top and carefully scoop out the flesh, reserving the skin. Add the potato flesh to a bowl and mash. Add the chicken breast, chili powder, and cumin to the bowl and mix together until well combined. Scoop the mixture back into the potato skin and top with mozzarella cheese. Place the potato back into the oven for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted. Remove from the oven and top with avocado and scallions. Serve and enjoy!

Yield: 1 serving

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 280 calories, 9 grams fat, 190 milligrams sodium, 32 grams carbohydrate, 8 grams fiber, 19 grams protein