Sweet Potatoes – A One Food Wonder!

Sweet potatoes are one of the most nutritious super foods available.  One potato has 4 grams of fiber, over 400% of your Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) of vitamin A along with a punch of potassium, calcium and vitamin C to boot.  But not all benefits can be found in their vitamin and mineral content.  Sweet potatoes also contain carotenoids, flavonoids, and phenolic acids which are phytochemicals.  These plant chemicals are powerful disease fighters shown to reduce the accumulation of plaque in arteries, block carcinogens, suppress malignant cell change, reduce inflammation, and improve symptoms of allergy, asthma and arthritis.  The sweet potato, along with other richly colored squashes, has proven very protective against the dangers of cigarette smoke and the development of lung cancer.  And we saw in last weeks post that they are low in pesticide residue.  This super food packs quite a punch with only 103 calories in one medium potato!

The easiest way to cook a sweet potato is to wash it, wrap it in foil and bake for 1 hour at 400 degrees.  Add a dollop of butter and sprinkle of cinnamon for a tasty complement to any meal.  Here are a few more ideas:   

 Spiced Sweet Potato Fries

 5 medium sweet potatoes

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp ginger

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a small bowl, mix olive oil with cumin, paprika and ginger.  Scrub sweet potatoes well under cold water, then slice them into large cut french fries, approximately ½ inch wide.  Place sweet potatoes in a large bowl and drizzle with the oil and spice mixture, stirring until thoroughly coated.  Place sweet potatoes on 2 large baking sheets and sprinkle with salt and pepper.   Bake for 15 minutes.  Turn potatoes over and bake 10 – 15 minutes more.  These are also great leftover – they are much sweeter cold.

Sweet Potato Pancakes or Waffles                                

This is a great way to use up leftover baked sweet potatoes.  This batter works well in a waffle iron and is sweet enough to eat without added syrup.

2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes (warm or room temperature)

1/2 cup butter, melted

4 eggs (I use 1 cup unsweetened applesauce)

2 cups milk (dairy or non dairy)

3 cups whole wheat or spelt flour

2 Tbsp Sucanat® or brown sugar (optional)

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

In a large bowl, combine sweet potatoes, butter, eggs and milk and beat until mixture is smooth.  Add the flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir and mix well.  Let the batter stand for 15 minutes.  Preheat a griddle and ladle 1/4 cup of batter onto heated griddle and cook until golden brown.  Flip the pancakes and cook the other side.

This recipe is adapted from Power Foods by Stephanie Beling M.D.


Beling, S., Power Foods, 1997, HarperCollins.
Bowden J., The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, 2007, Fair Winds Press.
Dunne L., Nutrition Almanac, 2002, McGraw-Hill.
Margen S., University of California at Berkeley:The Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition, 1992, Random House

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