During the cool winter months, there's not many more vegetables that can brighten a table like sweet potatoes can. They are full of nutrients, easy to cook with and taste delicious. They are also one of the few vegetables that can be "dressed" up and made as healthy as one wants the dish to be.
Adding marshmallows, brown sugar, butter and/or nuts to a sweet potato dish can drive up the fat and calories and should be done sparingly. However a little fat in a sweet potato dish is useful for helping to enjoy the full nutritious benefits of this root vegetable.
Adding a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to a 4-serving dish, is just the right amount of fat (approximately 3.5 fat grams per serving). Research suggests a minimum of 3-5 grams of fat per serving helps the body to increase the uptake of betacarotene. Sweet potatoes are one of the best sources of this important nutrient.
Sweet potatoes are also rich in vitamins A and C which makes them a "superfood" as they help to combat free radicals. And since they are low on the glycemic scale (especially when steamed or boiled as opposed to roasted) this is one "sweet" food that doesn't create a blood sugar spike. Kids can appreciate a sweet potato dish too (even the ones without marshmallows on top).
Researchers have found sweet potatoes have unique antioxidant properties as well. Sporamins, the storage proteins in sweet potatoes, have shown to help prevent oxidative damage to the cells of the body, providing a useful health benefit in many ways.
And do not ditch the peel! The outer skin of a sweet potato has many of the vegetable's nutritional benefits.
The best thing about sweet potatoes is that once they are cooked, they can be mashed up and included in just about anything. Pancake batter is given a denser consistency and an extra dose of vitamins with about 1/2 cup of sweet potatoes.
A plain bowl of oatmeal is spiced up with a tablespoon of sweet potatoes. Even cookies, cakes and breads are richer and more moist and filling with some mashed sweet potatoes swirled into the batter.