First domesticated in Central America over 5,000 years ago, the sweet potato has a long and varied history. Sweet potatoes were introduced in China in the 16th century and quickly spread throughout Asia. Because of its hardiness, adaptability and overall versatility, the sweet potato has become a stable food in many parts of the world.
Sweet potatoes (not to be confused with yams that originated in Africa and are starchier than their sweet potato cousins) are related to the morning glory and grow on trailing vines. Although most of us are familiar with the orange-fleshed variety, white and yellow varieties were once considered a highly sophisticated food.
When considering nutrition, sweet potatoes are chock full of goodness. One of the best sources of beta-carotene (an excellent source of vitamin A), sweet potatoes also contain high amounts of vitamin B6 (helpful in preventing heart attack and stroke) and vitamin C. In addition, the sweet potato has been called an anti-diabetic food due to its potential role in the stabilization of blood sugar levels.
Sweet potato fries are easy to prepare and make a tasty, low-fat side dish or snack. This recipe, found on www.food.com, includes a dash of Cajun seasoning for the Southern touch.
1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled, quartered and cut into one-quarter inch strips
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (adjust to taste)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the sweet potatoes into quarter-inch strips. (Make sure not to cut the fries too thin or they will burn.) Spread the potatoes on a lightly oiled or sprayed baking sheet, sprinkle with oil and seasonings. Toss to coat. Bake in the lower third of the oven for 30 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove from oven and season with salt, if desired.
Photo credit: NatalieMaynor on Flickr.