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What’s In Season? Sweet Potatoes In December!

I really wanted to write to you about the cabbage and the whole brassica family but my husband said that cabbage doesn’t go very well with the Holiday spirit. So sweet potato it is!

Sweet potatoes are native to America and related to neither potatoes nor yams, even though they are sometimes called yams. These three tubers come from three different plant families. Sweet potatoes can’t tolerate frost but if properly cured and stored they will last thirteen months. So they are in season all year around! By the way, speaking of storage, you don’t want to keep them in the fridge because cold temperature injures the roots. The best condition for storage is 55-65F.

How can you tell a sweet potato from a yam?

Chances are you never ate a true yam if you’re in North America. Yams are native to Africa and have blackish to brown skin and white, purple or reddish flesh. They can be found in specialty markets but are not usually carried by chain grocery stores.

There are many varieties of sweet potatoes and their skin color ranges from purple and red, to orange, yellow, and white. The flesh can be orange, yellow or white.

The two major types of sweet potatoes sold in the US are:

• Soft with brown-orange skin and deep orange flesh – commonly (and mistakenly) called Yams
• Firm with golden skin and lighter flesh – commonly called Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are nutritious, but…
Like other tubers, sweet potatoes are pretty starchy, with high natural sugar content. The glycemic index of a sweet potato will depend on how you cook it. If you boil it, the GI is only 46, roasting will increase the glycemic index up to 86 and baking brings the index all the way to 94. Pretty incredible, isn’t it? Regardless of how you cook them, sweet potatoes remain a very starchy vegetable and should be avoided by people with blood sugar issues.

Nevertheless, sweet potatoes contain generous amounts of vitamin C and carotenes and both of these are important antioxidants. They are an excellent source of beta-carotenes that can be converted into vitamin A, vitamin B6, manganese, potassium, and magnesium.

What we can do with sweet potatoes
Baked, boiled and mashed, or roasted sweet potatoes are often seen on the menu during the Holiday season.

I have a soup recipe that calls for sweet potatoes that I’d like to share with you – Sweet and Calming Fall Soup.

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