Have you ever wondered about the difference between yams and sweet potatoes? Discover more about each of these foods and find easy at-home recipes.
Are you a fan of holiday foods? Whether it's Thanksgiving, Christmas, or another cold-weather holiday, you'll probably notice that yams and sweet potatoes are often on the menu.
Are yams and sweet potatoes the same? These words are often used interchangeably, but these veggies are not the same. Today, let's talk about why these foods get confused and how to appreciate both for their unique qualities. Then, we'll show you fresh, simple sweet potato recipes that can make dinner tasty.
The Main Differences Between Yams and Sweet Potatoes
Here's the simple truth: yams and sweet potatoes aren't the same. For years, people have mixed up these two vegetables because they tend to look similar. Although these vegetables might have a few things in common, they're each a unique vegetable.
The main difference between these two is that true yams are not a type of potato at all. These root vegetables belong to their own plant family (the morning glory family), while sweet potatoes belong to the nightshade family.
Why Do People Confuse Yams With Sweet Potatoes?
Have you ever seen sweet potatoes called candied yams on a menu or in a grocery store? There's a reason people confuse these two vegetables, and it has to do with southern U.S. Agriculture.
In the early 1920s, sweet potato growers in the Southern U.S. decided to call their sweet potatoes the African word "yams." Ultimately, they wanted to distinguish sweet potatoes from regular potatoes so people wouldn't confuse the two.
Even though sweet potatoes are very different vegetables from yams, you'll find this word on many sweet potato labels today — however, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires these labels to also include the word "sweet potatoes" for more accurate advertisement.
All About Sweet Potatoes
Do you enjoy the creamy, sweet taste of sweet potatoes? These root tubers come from South and Central America, but you can find them in North American grocery stores. Though this starchy vegetable is part of the nightshade family, it's also closely related to carrots. Its thin skin and long, tapered shape are evidence of this connection.
Common Questions About Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes can be a delectable addition to many warm dinners. It's no surprise these are so well-loved.
Let's talk about some of the questions people often have about this food. After that, we'll explore more facts about yams.
Do Sweet Potatoes Have Health Benefits?
You might find this surprising, but sweet potatoes contain a range of nutrients that help support your body. Here is a quick list of what sweet potatoes have to offer:
- Vitamin C: Sweet potatoes contain 65% of the recommended daily amount.
- Manganese: Sweet potatoes also include a high amount of manganese, which can help support your bone and blood health.
- Fiber: The fiber in sweet potatoes can aid your digestive function.
- Potassium: Bananas aren't the only source of potassium. Sweet potatoes also contain this nutrient that helps manage fluid in your cells and supports blood pressure.
- Niacin: This nutrient in sweet potatoes can help ease arthritis pains and support lower cholesterol.
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A in sweet potatoes can help promote better vision and immunity.
- Beta-carotene: This nutrient helps support healthy vision.
Sweet potatoes also contain antioxidants which help fight off free radicals in your body. Eating these periodically can be a delicious way to provide your body with nutrients!
How Do You Find a Good Sweet Potato?
When shopping for groceries, you might wonder how to spot a quality sweet potato. As you evaluate them, try choosing one that's medium-size and doesn't have cracks or bruises. You'll want the skin to be smooth and firm.
Can You Freeze Sweet Potatoes?
Sometimes, you buy things at the grocery store that you forget to use during the week –– it happens! The good news is that you can freeze sweet potatoes to enjoy later. It's not recommended to freeze them raw. Cooking them or boiling them first will deliver the best results.
Are There Different Kinds of Sweet Potatoes?
Did you know there are sixteen different varieties of sweet potatoes? Some people say there are even more! Here's a quick list of the different types of sweet potatoes to help you distinguish them at the grocery store:
- Hannah Sweet Potatoes: Tan on the outside and yellow on the inside when baked.
- Jewel Sweet Potatoes: The traditional choice for casseroles and baking.
- Heirloom (Envy) Sweet Potatoes: This kind is moist, mild, and slightly sweet.
- Speckled Purple Sweet Potatoes: They're speckled just like the name says!
- Garnet Sweet Potatoes: These have reddish-purple skin and orange flesh inside.
- Korean Purple Sweet Potatoes: This variety has speckled purple skin and white flesh inside.
- Beauregard Sweet Potatoes: These are terrific for baking, frying, boiling, or mashing.
- Creamsicle Sweet Potatoes: These are named for their cream-colored exterior and sweet interior!
- O'Henry Sweet Potatoes: This kind of sweet potato tends to be more dense and heavy.
- Willowleaf Sweet Potatoes: This orange heirloom variety is extremely rare.
- Okinawa Sweet Potatoes: Tan on the outside and magenta on the inside!
- Covington Sweet Potatoes: When baked, these orange sweet potatoes develop a malty, sweet taste.
- Nugget Sweet Potatoes: These are excellent for roasting!
- Amish Bush Puerto Rico Sweet Potatoes: This variety becomes lush and tasty when cooked.
- Purple Sweet Potatoes: Firm, sweet, and tart!
- Stokes Purple Sweet Potatoes: These are purple through and through.
Can You Eat Sweet Potatoes Year-Round?
You might think that sweet potatoes have a particular season since they're popular in holiday side dishes like sweet potato casserole. However, this root vegetable is available in grocery stores year-round!
What Makes Sweet Potatoes So Impressive?
You can thank the sweet potato and George Washington Carver for a variety of inventions. Carver used this vegetable to create dyes, shoe polish, synthetic silk, molasses, rope, wood filler, and more! Who knew this one food could be so versatile?
How To Make Sweet Potatoes More Delicious
Let's say you've decided to bake your sweet potatoes, and you're wondering how you can make them even tastier. Luckily, there are several easy ways to enhance the flavor of sweet potatoes! Here are a few easy ways to bring your sweet potatoes to the next level.
- Drizzle honey on them
- Add marshmallows
- Spread butter on top
- Sprinkle cinnamon on top
- Add avocado and beans for a loaded baked potato
- Drizzle ranch dressing over them
- Use chili powder for some added heat
Ways To Cook Sweet Potatoes
Are you curious about ways to cook sweet potatoes? Here are a few quick ideas!
- Roasted: Roasting sweet potato cubes can give them a crispy edge!
- Baked: Baking sweet potatoes usually takes 45 minutes to an hour.
- Grilled: Grilled sweet potatoes pair well with a summer cookout.
- Fries: Frying sliced sweet potatoes can be salty, sweet, and yummy!
- Chips: You can enjoy sweet potatoes with a crunch!
- Cubed: Enjoy bite-sized sweet potatoes by cubing them.
- Boiled: Super soft and creamy sweet potatoes.
- Soup: Savor the savory, sweet flavor of every bite.
- Mashed: Just like mashed potatoes, but sweeter!
- Baked into pies: Sweet potato pie is a classic Thanksgiving dessert
Everything To Know About Yams
Let's talk about yams. This vegetable often gets mixed up with sweet potatoes, though they're much different. After discussing questions you might have about this veggie, we'll show you a few recipes that can make cooking easy!
Where Did Yams Originate?
These edible tubers come from Asia and Africa. Their brown skin tends to be drier, and their insides are white. These don't spoil in humid conditions, making them excellent options for the climates where they grow.
They’re still extremely popular in West Africa.
What Do Yams Taste Like?
One of the main differences between sweet potatoes and yams is their taste. Though they are not related to potatoes, their flavor can be similar. They have a neutral flavor, unlike sweet potatoes.
It's important to know that yams are not edible when raw because their flesh can be toxic when not cooked. However, once you cook this food, it can make a versatile complement to many recipes.
How Do You Find Yams?
Remember, packaging at your local supermarket can be misleading. If you want to try real yams, you won't be able to go to a typical North American grocery store. Instead, you'll want to visit a Caribbean or African market to pick these up. Once you purchase yams, you can cut them into round slices and boil them!
Simple Sweet Potato Recipes You Can Make This Week
Perhaps all our talk about sweet potatoes has inspired you to try more sweet potato dishes! Cooking with sweet potatoes can provide a host of nutrients for yourself or your household. Let's look at easy sweet potato recipes you can incorporate into your weekly meals!
Baked Sweet Potato With Blue Cheese
What better way to mix things up in the kitchen than adding an interesting cheese? Our Baked Sweet Potato With Blue Cheese recipe allows you to savor the decadence of creamy sweet potatoes with sharp blue cheese. Walnuts on top add the perfect crunch and texture! It only requires three minutes of prep work, and you can let your oven do the rest.
Balsamic Sweet Potato and Pecan Salad
Have you been looking for a good salad recipe? Our Balsamic Sweet Potato and Pecan Salad calls for feta cheese with arugula and tangy balsamic dressing. Enjoy this tasty dish between meals to stay nourished.
Curried Coconut Sweet Potato Soup
Warm soups can make the perfect pair for rainy days or cold weather. This Curried Coconut Sweet Potato Soup adds even more warmth with delightful curry and ginger added to the mix. Enjoy the puréed mixture and its blend of flavors. It's a perfect dish for those who prefer vegetarian or vegan meals!
Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Curry
Are you in the mood for a dish full of lively, vibrant spices? This Lentil and Sweet Potato Curry recipe combines sweet potatoes and lentils with vegetable broth, coconut milk, and brilliant spices. Try it for yourself to enjoy the spice of turmeric with tasty sweet potatoes.
Honey-Curry Pork Chops and Mashed Sweet Potato
Sweet Potato and Quinoa Bowl
Sometimes, you want a little bit of everything to eat, and that's why easy bowl meals are such a great idea. This Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowl features sweet potato cubes with quinoa, goat cheese, and spinach! Lemon, onion, and vegetable bouillon add an exquisite flavor to every bite.
Sweet Potato and Hummus Bowl
Are you a hummus lover? This vegetarian-friendly sweet potato bowl includes yummy sweet potatoes with creamy hummus and crisp arugula.
Fried Egg and Sweet Potato Hash
Making breakfast can be tasty! This Fried Egg and Sweet Potato Hash can give your typical breakfast menu more variety. Enjoy feta cheese sprinkled in with delicious cubed sweet potatoes, a fried egg, and garlic for flavor. You'll love how this dish starts your day!
Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup
This puréed Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup is a perfect go-to for lazy days when you want a light, tasty meal. Enjoy the blend of carrots, sweet potatoes, lentils, and spices with heavy cream.
Easy Cooking Can Taste Great
Now that you know the difference between yams and sweet potatoes, you'll never be duped again! You can also appreciate how versatile and tasty each of these foods can be.
Whether you're preparing to cook sweet potatoes or searching for new snack recipes for your household, we're here to assist at Jow! Let us lighten the load of your grocery shopping, meal prep, and cooking this week.