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Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a fall favorite, pairing perfectly with the baking spices of the season. They’re also famous for offering up a few more nutrients than their white counterpart by packing in more vitamin C, beta carotene and fiber. Offering up a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber, sweet potatoes support digestive health and feeds healthy gut bacteria with prebiotics. Moreover, the beta carotene that gives the veggie its famously golden color acts as an antioxidant and is converted to vitamin A in the body.

Sweet potatoes’ fiber content makes them filling and an excellent side dish for any meal of the day. Though this golden fall crop is packed in nutrients, watch for the ingredients many recipes call for alongside it. Watch out for added sugar, butter and marshmallows. Instead, rely on the natural sweetness of the potatoes and keep the saturated fat to a minimum. Want to make the most of sweet potatoes this season? Try one of these four recipes:

  • Upscaled Sweet Potato Fries
  • Sriracha-lime Sweet Potato Morning Bowl
  • Turkey Bacon Loaded Sweet Potato Skins
  • Savory Sweet Potato Appetizer Bites

Upscaled Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet potatoes, when baked, stand out as a nutrition superstar over its fried, white counterpart by packing in beta carotene, fiber and plenty of antioxidants. But sweet potatoes deserve a moment in the spotlight like their white potato counterparts do at restaurants. In comes this crowd-pleasing recipe – the sweet potato fries are drizzled with a homemade aioli then topped with chives and parmesan.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of sweet potatoes, uniformly and thinly cut (about ¼ in wide)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • Toppings: salt and pepper to taste, 1 tbsp chopped chives, 2 tbsp grated parmesan
  • Garlic aioli: ¼ cup light mayonnaise, 1 clove garlic, salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. (Optional step) Soak fries for 30 minutes, then dry.
  3. In a bowl, toss the fries in olive oil, then toss in cornstarch, smoked paprika and garlic. Do not season with salt, do this at the end so moisture isn’t pulled from the potato causing soggy fries.
  4. Place fries on a lined baking sheet, leaving space between.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping the fries halfway.
  6. While fries are roasting, combine garlic aioli ingredients. Toast garlic clove in a non-greased pan over medium-high heat until browned if a more complex garlic flavor is desired.
  7. Allow fries to cool for ~10 minutes, place in desired serving dish or glass with parchment paper then drizzle over with garlic aioli, parmesan and chives.

Sriracha-lime Sweet Potato Morning Bowl

Pancakes, waffles, and sausage are American morning favorites, sometimes making breakfast slack in the vegetable department. This recipe packs in sweet potatoes, bell pepper, avocado, spinach and an herb-rich dressing that comes together in a delicious, balanced and filling bowl. The zesty lime and kick of sriracha perfectly complement the potatoes’ sweetness and savory eggs.

Ingredients            

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 medium sweet potato, cubed
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, separated
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp roughly chopped cilantro for garnish
  • Optional 1 tbsp sriracha

Cilantro Lime Dressing Ingredients

  • Juice of ½ lime
  • ¼ cup cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ¼ cup light mayo
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-low heat. Add sweet potatoes, bell pepper, salt and pepper and cook until sweet potatoes are fork tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. While sweet potato is cooking, prepare other ingredients (cube avocado, mince garlic, make dressing)
  3. To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a blender.
  4. Push sweet potatoes to the side, add 1/2 tbsp of olive oil and add garlic, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant. Add spinach and stir in until reduced in size.
  5. Combine all ingredients and add salt and pepper to taste. Add ingredients to a serving bowl.
  6. Reduce heat to low and heat ½ tablespoon oil until slightly shimmering. Crack an egg into a small ramekin and slowly add it to the skillet; repeat with the other egg, adding it to the other side of the skillet. Cover with a tight lid and cook, uninterrupted, until the whites are completely set but the yolks are still runny, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Slide the eggs out of the skillet onto bowl ingredients.
  7. Dress with goat cheese, cilantro, 1 tbsp cilantro lime dressing and optional sriracha.

Turkey Bacon Loaded Sweet Potato Skins – Makes 8 Skins

Thanksgiving spreads famously cater to sweet potatoes loaded with sugar and butter in casseroles and candied dishes, but there are other delicious and healthier ways to enjoy the holiday favorite. This recipe relies on the natural sweetness of the potatoes and uses olive oil instead of butter to limit saturated fat. Crowd-pleasing side dishes aren’t just about taste – the pops of color from the green onion and sriracha make this recipe stand out from the rest.

Ingredients

  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, skin on
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 3 strips turkey bacon
  • ¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish – chopped green onion and optional sriracha

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Pierce sweet potatoes with a fork in 4-5 places. Cook for 45-50 minutes or until tender.
  2. While sweet potatoes are cooking, sear turkey bacon until crispy, then let cool and crumble or chop.
  3. Let potatoes cool for 15 minutes, then cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the sweet potato content into a bowl, leaving the skin in-tact.
  4. Combine sweet potato contents with milk, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste until well-combined.
  5. Fill each potato skin with the sweet potato mixture, leaving some room for cheese. Top with cheese and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until cheese has melted.
  6. Top skins with turkey bacon, chopped green onion and optional sriracha. Enjoy!

Savory Sweet Potato Appetizer Bites – Makes 15-20 Bites

Perfect served savory or sweet, sweet potatoes are a versatile fall staple. Whether you’re hosting or bringing a dish this Thanksgiving, consider making these savory and simple bites that serve up a flavorful punch of nutrients.

Ingredients

  • 3 peeled sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced ½-inch thick rounds
  • 1 tbsp +1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/3 cup goat cheese
  • 1/3 cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Toss sweet potato slices in 1 tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place on a lined baking sheet, leaving spaces in between.
  3. Bake for 15-20 minutes until fork-tender. While sweet potatoes are baking, combine cranberries, pecans, thyme, salt, pepper, 1 tsp olive oil and honey in a small bowl.
  4. Take out sweet potatoes and top with cranberry and pecan mixture. Bake for another 5-8 minutes. Top with goat cheese and serve.

Shanthi Appelö is a registered dietitian and health and wellness spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan based in Detroit. Passionate about the science of nutrition and behavior, Shanthi has experience working in clinical nutrition, public health and teaching in the university setting. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, exploring the outdoors, working on art and spending time with family.