QUESTION: I’ve got a huge sack of sweet potatoes, but besides baking, how else can I prepare them?
ANSWER: First, it’s important to note that sweet potatoes are healthy vegetables that are full of fiber, potassium, and vitamins A and C. Potassium is an essential mineral and electrolyte that people need as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
Potassium is vital because it regulates your body’s fluid balance and controls the electrical activity of your heart and other muscles. It also serves several other functions in the human body. It lowers blood pressure, decreases the risk of stroke, supports bone-mineral density, protects against loss of muscle mass, and reduces the formation of kidney stones.
Consuming a high-potassium diet has been linked to a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, as noted in Potassium, an Ohioline fact sheet. Ohioline is Ohio State University Extension’s free online information resource and can be found at ohioline.osu.edu. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).
“Potassium helps maintain normal blood pressure by reducing the effect of sodium, but about 90% of the population in the United States consumes more sodium than recommended with only about 3% meeting the recommendations for potassium,” the fact sheet reads.
Interestingly enough, despite their name, sweet potatoes aren’t potatoes.
“They are instead a root vegetable and are in the plant family Convolvulaceae, which includes bindweed and morning glory,” said Tim McDermott, an educator with OSU Extension. “And they are a vegetable that can be easily planted in late spring and harvested in the fall.”
McDermott, who runs the Growing Franklin food production blog, recently posted a video that he and fellow OSU Extension educator Jenny Lobb produced on how to make sweet potatoes into a crunchy, healthy snack that both kids and adults can enjoy.
The video demonstrates cutting sweet potatoes into fry strips seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic power, and onion powder and placing them into an air fryer on 400 degrees Fahrenheit until done.
“Wash them well, and you don’t need to peel them before cutting into fry sizes,” Lobb said. “That’s because sweet potatoes have lots of great nutrients in the skin.