Sweet potatoes are extremely good for you. There are two varieties you can keep your eye out for: one with a pale, yellow flesh covered by a thin skin, and the rougher-skinned variety with bright orange flesh. The latter are often mistakenly called yams; however, they are distinctly different.
Sweet potatoes can be found at most grocery stores year-round, but are in their peak season during November and December.
Babies and kids love sweet potatoes. Because of their natural sweetness, you don’t need to do much to enhance their already wonderful flavour, and the silky smooth consistency is easily accepted by little ones.
As with carrots, the orange hue of the sweet potato indicates a high level of beta carotene – in fact, sweet potatoes may be one of nature’s highest sources of this natural chemical, which helps the body produce vitamin A. Sweet potatoes are actually used in poorer countries to provide a good source of vitamin A to children. They are also known for their anti-inflammatory properties and ability to help regulate blood sugar levels.
This is one of the significant characteristics that set sweet potatoes apart from other starches. While most starches may cause a spike in blood sugar level, sweet potatoes may actually help improve it, which is good news for diabetics.
This root vegetable is also high in dietary fibre and vitamin C.
How to Select
Choose potatoes with unshriveled, even-coloured skin. You will find different varieties with varying shades of flesh from light tan to deep orange, often labelled as yams.
How to Use
Sweet potatoes are a great first food for infants, but also great for the whole family in soups or muffins, or as a side dish.
Scrub two sweet potatoes (makes approximately 2 cups). Preheat oven to 425 F. Prick potatoes with a small knife or fork and place on a baking sheet. Roast until wrinkled and tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 45 to 60 minutes. Let cool.
Quick tip: If you are in a hurry, boiling is the quickest way to prep a purée. Peel potatoes, dice into one-inch cubes and boil for 15 to 20 minutes until a knife can easily pierce.
For younger babies
Halve potatoes, scoop out flesh from skins and purée in a food processor until smooth. Add water (save some cooking water for this!), breast milk or formula gradually until a desired consistency is reached
For advanced babies
Add a small pinch of thyme, sage, cinnamon, allspice or ginger for a refreshing new flavour. As baby advances, you can mash instead of purée or cut into small chunks for the perfect finger food.
For the family
Leave the potatoes in their skins and top with fat-free Greek yogurt for a healthy alternative to baked potatoes. When more texture is accepted try serving them mashed as a healthy side dish with dinner.
How to Store
Refrigerate in airtight container for up to three days. You can also fill ice-cube trays for freezing. Once frozen, pop out cubes and store in an airtight container for up to three months.