When is a potato not a potato? When it's a sweet potato.
Did you know that despite their name, sweet potatoes don't belong to the potato family, they are part of the root vegetable family.
Although often used in winter dishes, sweet potato season runs all year making it a great choice for any time of year.
There are four types of sweet potato; gold, red, purple and white. Over 90 per cent of sweet potatoes grown in Australia are the gold variety, sometimes called Beauregard and they have a rose/gold smooth skin and bright orange flesh.
Sweet potato is very high in vitamin A (essential for healthy eyes and skin) and immune-boosting vitamin C which plays an important role in helping absorb iron from foods.
They are also a source of the B vitamin niacin which is needed for energy release and to help beat tiredness and fatigue.
Add to this potassium - for healthy nerve and muscle functioning - and fibre it's easy to see why this humble root vegetable can supercharge your mealtimes.
Mum of two, TV personality and cookbook author Magdalena Roze has sweet potatoes on her shopping list every week and says they are a deliciously easy and nutritious addition to any meal.
"Sweet potatoes are a firm staple in my household. My kids love sweet potato so it's always a fuss-free vegetable that Darren and I can serve up and know our little ones are getting a serve of veg. Mashed sweet potato was also the first food we fed both our children," said Magdalena.
"We can't go past the versatility of sweet potato, they go with anything and are so much more than a dinner side. A family favourite are my sweet potato sushi rolls, they're so simple to make and the sweet potato adds so many nutrients, it's a definite lunchbox win."
Her tips include adding sweet potatoes into your next dessert or even as an ingredient in a birthday cake, muffins or brownies. "Sweet potatoes have a natural sweetness, which makes it a delicious addition to desserts. Added bonus: it will have less added sugar, the benefit of Vitamins A and C, and the grandkids won't notice they're having a serve of veg."
Or, she suggests sweetening up your next barbecue. "If you're looking for a plant-based option, sweet potato is the perfect choice. Grill some sliced sweet potato and serve with a squeeze of lemon and crumbled feta for a simple and delicious summer staple."
Did you know?
- In Australia, there are about 85 commercial sweet potato producers. Collectively, they produce almost 90,000 tonnes of sweet potatoes per year.
- Choose firm sweet potatoes with brightly coloured skin. The deeper the colour, the richer it is in the antioxidant beta-carotene.
- Don't refrigerate. Store sweet potatoes loose (not in a plastic bag) in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place for up to two weeks.
- Prep like a pro: The skin can be left on if you scrub it well, or peeled. Slice, dice or bake whole, just as you do with potatoes, or sautee, barbecue, fry or microwave.
Magdalena Roze's healthier sweet potato and spelt carbonara
I've made this recipe for one serve because it's the perfect meal to make for one when you have leftover sweet potato mash or puree. To cook for more people, simply double, triple etc the quantities. It's also easily adapted for vegetarians by simply omitting the bacon. In this healthier version of carbonara, I'm using sweet potato as a substitute for cream, and wholesome spelt pasta. (Serves 1).
- 100g spelt spaghetti
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 30g bacon or pancetta, diced
- 150g sweet potato, cooked and pureed
- 30g parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 whole free range egg, beaten
- Salt and pepper to season
- Cook the spelt pasta according to the packet instructions, usually around 10 minutes, and reserve 2 tablespoons of the cooking water for your carbonara sauce.
- In the meantime, place the olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat, add the garlic and bacon/pancetta, and cook for about 5 minutes or until it's crisp and golden, then set aside.
- Put the sweet potato, parmesan, egg and half the pancetta/bacon in a bowl. When the pasta is ready, remove it from the water with tongs and place it into the bowl along with a couple of tablespoons of the cooking water. Using the tongs or a couple of forks, toss the pasta with all the ingredients until it's well coated and all ingredients are well combined. The hot pasta will lightly cook the egg.
- Top with remaining bacon/pancetta, extra parmesan and a generous amount of sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.
More meal ideas...
Delicious dip. Throw some sweet potato, cooked chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, garlic, cumin, sriracha, nutmeg cinnamon and lemon juice into a blender or food processor to make a yummy hummus with a sweet twist
Oodles of noodles: Peel a sweet potato and run it through a spiraliser to make sweet potato noodles. Sautee or roast the noodles so that they don't break apart and add to your favourite stir fry. Not only do they add a bright pop of colour but are also nutritious.
Toast it baby: If you haven't noticed, bread has been looking a lot more orange on Instagram these days, and it's not a new filter. It's a new trend - sweet potato 'toast'. Try popping a slice of sweet potato in the toaster (it will need longer than bread) and add your favourite toppings for a nutritional and delicious breakfast with a twist.
For more information visit australiansweetpotatoes.com.au