Sweet potatoes can add color, sweetness, and nutrients to meals, side dishes, and snacks. There are a variety of ways to enjoy sweet potatoes, from baking or boiling to mashing and roasting. They are a great ingredient to use in fall and winter dishes. You can eat them as fries, grill them, use them as a salad topper, a sweet side dish, cube them for soups and stews, or enjoy them as chips. November is Sweet Potato Awareness Month. Check out the following tips and information on buying, storing, and adding sweet potatoes to a healthful eating plan.
Tips for Selection, Storage, and Preparation
Nutrition and health: Sweet potatoes are fat-free, low in sodium, cholesterol free, a good source of dietary fiber and potassium, and high in vitamins A and C. Taste the sweet goodness that sweet potatoes naturally have, and keep the additions like butter to a minimum. A medium sweet potato (about 2 inches in diameter and 5 inches long) is around 100 calories when baked in the skin.
Selection and storage tips: Choose firm, small- to medium-sized potatoes with smooth skin. Avoid cracks, soft spots and blemishes. Choose sweet potatoes with a bright, uniform color. Store them in a cool, dark, dry place for use within two to three weeks or at room temperature for up to a week. Avoid storing in the refrigerator, which will result in a hard center and unpleasant taste.
Cleaning and preparing: Before cooking, rinse sweet potatoes with cool, running water to remove any dirt from the skin and scrub with a vegetable brush if needed. It is not necessary to peel sweet potatoes before cooking them; leaving the skins on gives you a different texture and more fiber in meals, side dishes, and snacks.
Cooking with sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes can be baked, boiled, fried, broiled, and microwaved. They can also be peeled, cut into chunks and sautéed. When cooking whole sweet potatoes, pierce their skin several times with a fork and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit (F) for 40-50 minutes, or until fork tender. When microwaving, pierce several times with a fork and place on a microwave-safe dish. Microwave whole sweet potatoes for 5 to 8 minutes, rotating halfway through. Sauté sliced or diced sweet potatoes and cook in oil for about 10 minutes. Grill or broil 1-inch thick slices for 10 minutes or cut sweet potatoes in half lengthwise and grill 20 to 25 minutes.
Great additions to meals and side dishes: Sweet potatoes can be prepared with sweet or savory flavors and go well with meats, fruits, and other
vegetables. Here are some examples of interesting ways to incorporate sweet potatoes:
- Toss sliced sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower in olive oil and salt and bake until tender
- Sauté peppers, onions and sweet potato cubes for taco filling
- Add roasted sweet potato wedges to your favorite grilled meat
- Add roasted sweet potato cubes to a soup recipe
Updated August 2021
- 2 pork loin chops
- 1 sweet potato, scrubbed with a clean vegetable brush under cold running water, peeled and sliced
- 1/2 orange, scrubbed with a clean vegetable brush under cold running water, sliced
- 1 dash cinnamon
- 1 dash salt (optional)
- 1 dash black pepper (optional)
- Wash hands with soap and water.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place meat and sweet potato slices in a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with orange slices and sprinkle with seasonings.
- Cover and bake for 1 hour until meat is tender. Pork is safely cooked when it has been heated to 145 degrees F.
- Calories 270
- Total Fat 11g
- Saturated Fat 4g
- Cholesterol 65mg
- Sodium 85mg
- Total Carbohydrates 17g
- Fiber 3g
- Total Sugars 6g
- Protein 25g
Adapted from Simply Seniors Cookbook, Utah Family Nutrition Program/ Utah State University Extension.
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed with clean vegetable brush under running water, peeled, and cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1 baking apple, gently rubbed under cold running water, sliced
- ¼ cup orange juice
- 2 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon butter or margarine
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries or raisins
- Wash hands with soap and water. Preheat oven to 350 ⁰F. Lightly grease or spray with nonstick cooking spray a 1 ½ quart casserole dish.
- In a small sauce pan over medium heat, mix together the orange juice, brown sugar, butter or margarine, cinnamon and dried cranberries or raisins. Heat and continue to stir until the sugar is dissolved and the margarine is melted.
- In a large bowl, mix together the potatoes, apples and orange juice mixture. Transfer to a casserole dish
- Bake, covered, for one hour or until the potatoes are fork tender.
- Stir the mixture before serving to coat the sweet potatoes and apples with the juices accumulated at the bottom.
- Store leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Calories 207
- Total Fat 3g
- Sodium 235mg
- Total Carbohydrates 44g
- Fiber 5g
- Protein 2.5g
Washburn, C. (2011). Sweet Potatoes. Food $ense Guide to Eating Fresh Fruits and Vegetables. Utah State University Extension. Accessed at: https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/extension_curall/149/.
Michigan State University Extension. (2012). Using, Storing and Preserving Sweet Potatoes. Extension Bulletin HNI26. Accessed at: https://www.canr.msu.edu/uploads/resources/pdfs/sweet_potatoes(hni26).pdf.
North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission. (2014). 52 Ways to Love Sweet Potatoes. Accessed at: http://www.ncsweetpotatoes.com/52-ways-to-love-sweet-potatoes/.
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Food Features: Sweet Potatoes. Accessed at: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/sweet-potatoes/.