Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Everyone knows this, but is it true? But first, what are yams and how do they differ from sweet potatoes? In the United States, most tubers sold as yams are actually members of the sweet potato family.
Real yams hail from the Dioscorea family of perennial herbaceous vines and include dozens of varieties, some of which grow to over eight feet long and weigh nearly two hundred pounds. This is probably what most of you picture when you think of a sweet potato — light tan skin, slightly yellow interior. Basic sweet potatoes are strong sources of beta-carotene, manganese, and copper.
Garnet, Jewel, Beauregard: these are the orange fleshed, reddish-brownish-orangish skinned sweet potatoes masquerading as yams. These guys cook surprisingly well in a microwave. You can expect to see quite a bit of them this coming Thanksgiving. These are my current favorites. They are white skinned with a deep, brilliant purple interior that becomes velvety smooth and incredibly sweet when baked. Even better, the purple pigment is due to the vast numbers of anthocyanins — the very same beneficial antioxidant pigments that provide blueberries their brilliant color and health benefits.
That sounds reasonable, and a good general rule is the purpler the potato or bluer the berrythe greater the anthocyanin content. Plus, the long-lived, fairly healthy Okinawans have traditionally used Okinawan purple sweet potatoes as a staple food. All the evidence seems to support their status as a healthy, delicious tuber.
Just look for the deep purple flesh.
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Once you get it into the oven and the sugars start caramelizing, it becomes way too much for my palate. Look for purplish skin with a light interior that turns golden brown with caramelizing.
Give it a shot with some salty butter and maybe a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg if you want something sweet. Traditional preparation takes many forms, but the most common method is peeling and boiling. Fufu is mashed yam mixed with sauces, usually palm oil based. This is called elubo.
Look for it in African or Caribbean markets. The purple yam was originally cultivated in Southeast Asia and is now the most widely distributed variety.
I suspect this may be the imposter I encountered when looking for Okinawan sweet potatoes, although the purple yam has its own benefits: one study found replacing rice with D.
A similar study with true sweet potatoes instead of yams did not have this effect.
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The Chinese, who call it shanyao, have used it as an herbal medicine for thousands of years in the treatment of liver and kidney disease. In rats, shanyao extract seems to decrease liver and kidney damage related to alcohol abuse and acetaminophen abuse. That goo burns, so make sure you use either foil or a cookie sheet to protect your oven. Some may take a little longer, some a little shorter, but the poke, prod, and goo methods are reliable and field-tested.
They keep well in the fridge for up to a week, so active folks eating more carbs can make a bunch at once for easy refeeds. You can also smash the cooked, chilled tubers into a flat pancake and fry that up with some butter, coconut oiland cinnamon. Traditionally, sweet potato and yam skins are removed before consumption, so I err on the side of caution and do the same. I doubt a bit of skin is going to hurt you, though, if you decide to eat it. Most of the anti-nutrients in potatoes can be found in the skin, and it seems logical to assume the same is true for yams and sweet potatoes.
Generally, I opt for organic, but it may not matter as much with sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes consistently show up with lower pesticide residuesespecially when compared to normal potatoes.
As always, though, the best is locally grown in rich soil. Plus, I find small farms produce tastier stuff as a general rule.
This study PDF did the work for us, examining the nutritive and anti-nutritive properties of the leaves. These might be worth trying and treating like spinach or kale if you can get a hold of some. You might, for example, suppose that starchy sweet potatoes are absolutely horrible for patients with diabetes.
After five months, they displayed greater glucose control, higher adiponectin, and lower fibrinogen. Another study on diabetic patients had similar results. There are thousands of varieties of sweet potatoes and yams. It would be impossible to document them all, and foolish to try. Just know this: they are healthy, tasty, safe sources of starch if you go for that kind of thing that people have been eating for a long, long time.
Of course, always keep your total carb intake goals in mind if and when you add yams and sweet potatoes to your eating plan. What do you think? Do you have a favorite sweet potato variety? Are sweet potatoes part of your diet, and if so, how often do you eat them?
Share your thoughts in the comment board and thanks for reading. If you’d like to add. I had no idea there are so many types of yams. Think oven baked french fries made with sweet potatoes. Hardest part is chopping them up while raw…gives you a good primal workout! This is how I do it too, except when I have more time I dice a couple of slices of bacon, fry them up, and toss the sweet potatoes with the bacon and its grease instead of olive oil.
Enjoy………www.2015genelsecim.org awesome I only see the orange fleshed varieties here in VA. I obviously need to look beyond the traditional grocers. Are there regional differences in the availability of these varieties? I want to try the lighter colored versions,including true yams, to see if they are less sweet. Asian grocers are not to be found nearby. Wow, I love me some sweet potatoes. They are just so yummy and naturally sweet. I can eat them plain.
Sometimes with a dab of butter, or sprinkled with cinnamon. I like them fresh. I agree that the purple ones are absolutely delicious.
They seem to pair esepcially well with virgin coconut oil. That Okinowan sweet potato looks great. Anyone know of any good sources for the Okinawan purples? Preferably a source you have personally used and delivers to the East Coast of the US….
I have yet to taste sweet potatoes… never had the occasion before. Every time I go in Wholefoods, I am fooled. What is a yam? What is a sweet potato? Only last night I fed my kids a sweet potato, my husband said it was yam and now I see I was right all along.
I work at whole foods in the produce department and I did actually know this. Ill be referring to this article from now on. I do pumpkin and spaghetti squash instead with the occasional delicata. Just this last time I did use the Japanese version and I have to say I did like it a lot. It has a yellow skin and yellow flesh when cooked.
It also has a more dense flesh, almost like a potato. I agree about the Japanese sweet potato. Baked they are desserts, even in Japan. I ate lots of true sweet potato leaves as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania, East Africa. If you grow your own, just pull off a handful or two of leaves, and saute in a bit of butter or coconut oil. The leaves will soften up nicely and exude some mucilaginous stuff like okrabe prepared.
Pumpkin and winter squash leaves of all types were also regularly eaten, some winter squashes were planted solely for their leaves! I just bought an entire grass-fed steer and with all of the roasts I am in need of some more ingredients for my slow roasts.
I love to chop, boil and mash. I actually find sweet potatoes to be too sweet tasting for me. But the yams I buy are much more mild flavored. In New Zealand we call this vegetable a yam… www.2015genelsecim.org It is a completely different family of vegetable again! Usually boiled or roasted it has a beautiful slightly tart flavour. Gonna go stock up on some of the orange-reddish kind!
As a kid, I despised sweet potatoes with a passion. My little chubby self loved standard russet potatoes though. But plenty home grown fruits veggies and meat all organic i just HAD to go eat a sweet potato for my lunch, this post was so inspiring….
Sweet potatoes have been an amazing source of quick and effective energy when I feel the need for some extra carbs. This post made me hungry!! San Gabriel Valley is full of stores that carry them. A trip to the Asian food store is definitely in store. I bet my kids would love those purple sweet potatoes. Especially if we made them into oven-baked chips like we do with the orange ones. That would make a nice veggie side-dish for kids who like finger foods!
I am a big fan of sweet potatoes, and have increased my consumption of them considerably. My activity level is through the roof, so I am definitely looking for good carbs to eat. I think the Okinawan purple sweet potato sounds amazing! Thanks for the tips. I have some at home right now, and I bought them as sweet potatoes. I cut the sweet potato into www.2015genelsecim.orgave them for three minutes…baste them with olive oil and finish the on the grill or broiler for a nice roasted www.2015genelsecim.org fairly quick too…!
My husband and I love sweet potatoes! One of our favorite dinners is to shred a medium sweet potato on a box grater. Cook in a pan on med-high with coconut milk, oil, salt and onions. Then cook a couple eggs over easy with it. An awesome post, just as usual!! My spouse hates anything remotely sweet potato or yam. All the more for the rest of us!
I love sweet potatoes. As long as you make sure they are all in a single layer on the baking pan not on top of each otherthey will get nice and crispy.
Thinly slice sweet patatos or yams. Boil for a few minutes but do not let Them soften too much. Stir in Coconut Oil, Basil, a bit of Garlic. Pet shops are selling them for a small fortune. Dogs go absolutley wild for theese treats. This is great Mark! I have often wondered about the differences. And thanks, everyone else, for all the suggestions on how to cook them sweet taters! My two favorite ways:. I also make a chili using ground beef, sweet potatoes, chipotles in adobo sauce, and other ingredients.
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Notify of new replies to this comment. Eduard Wow, thanks Mark! They are my go to dessert most days when I want a sweet treat. In New Zealand we call this vegetable a yam… www.2015genelsecim.org. It is a completely different family of vegetable again! Here in NZ we usually refer to sweet potatoes by the traditional M?
And I love them with spicy cayenne seasoned salt and pumpkin seeds for protein. For sweet potato leaves, just grow your own. Throw a sprouting sweet potato in a pot and it will produce greens all summer long. Then in the fall, you get some free sweet potatoes.
They are a bit stringy and they wilt fast. And wilt to nothing when you cook them, more so even than spinach. They are not my favorite. Then I slice them thin and cook them in a HOT skillet with coconut oil. I sprinkle them with garlic salt. I like them almost burned. They are yummy, yummy! And to the person who asked about the slow cooker, I frequently use sweet pototoes in my crock pot. It is delicious with melted coconut oil or coconut butter and a sprinkle of sea salt!
Another favorite is to add bit almond butter and cinnamon! Baked sweet potato with butter and poached egg. That casserole dish really does sound magnificent.
Personally, I avoid the microwave and I recommend the same for anyone else.
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