Sweet potatoes are an easy sell to most kids. They’re naturally sweet and creamy, like dessert! The bright orange color of sweet potato’s flesh indicates high levels of the antioxidant beta-carotene, which makes for strong, healthy eyes. One medium baked sweet potato is seriously good nutrition packed into 100 calories. It’s an excellent source of vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, vitamins C and manganese, plus a good source of B6, pantothenic acid, potassium and dietary fiber! Did someone say superfood?! The sweet potato is actually an entirely different vegetable from the yam, though sometimes the terms are used interchangeably. Yams are white, starchy, and blander than sweet potatoes, and they’re pretty hard to find in the US. The orange root veggie you’ve been eating is almost definitely a sweet potato.
We grow sweet potatoes here at the Barn, and they’re always a big hit with the kids. We plant them from a starter plant in the spring, and they grow for about 4 months before we harvest them, usually in late summer. The kids enjoy digging them out of the ground, like buried treasure! They are easily stored through the winter if kept cold.
Baked, boiled, or roasted, you really can’t go wrong with this potato. While traditional recipes often call for butter, sugar, or marshmallows, I find that sweet potatoes are plenty sweet and rich on their own. I like to eat them simply baked, sliced in half, and mashed with a fork. It’s a very filling vegetable with lots of complex carbohydrates, so it makes a nice alternative to the typically savory starch side dish. Have you ever had sweet potatoes for breakfast? Stacey’s recipe for Sweet Potato Pancakes, from Appetite for Life, is perfect for a super nutritious breakfast for the new year!
Sweet Potato Pancakes
from Appetite for Life by Stacey Antine, MS RD
These sweet potato pancakes are delicious and nutritious! Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of beta-carotene (vitamin A), which keeps your eyesight laser sharp. Made with whole wheat flour and milk, these pancakes are a good source of fiber and bone-building calcium. They’re a top “game day” pick for athletes because they provide a perfect balance of protein, healthy fat, and whole grains. Go team!
Kids can crack and separate eggs, and can flip pancakes with adult supervision.
1 medium sweet potato (10–12 ounces)
1 cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup walnuts or whatever nut you like, chopped (optional)
3 tablespoons cornmeal
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 1/3 cups low-fat (1%) milk
1 tablespoon canola oil
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, separated
Maple syrup or agave nectar
- Pierce the sweet potato with a fork in several places. Place potato on a paper towel in a microwave oven. Cook on high for 3–4 minutes or until fork-tender, turning the potato over once halfway through cooking. (Or, preheat oven to 450˚F. Pierce potato with fork; place on oven rack and bake for 45 minutes or until fork-tender.) Cool potato until easy to handle.
- Scoop out cooled sweet potato from skin and place in a small bowl; set aside.
- In a large bowl, stir together flour, walnuts (if using), cornmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together sweet potato, milk, oil, vanilla, and egg yolks. In a small bowl, whisk egg whites until foamy.
- Add the sweet potato mixture to dry ingredients and stir until blended. Fold egg whites into the batter.
- Heat a nonstick griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Pour batter onto a hot griddle or skillet using a ¼-cup measure.
- Cook pancakes until bubbles form on top, about 5 minutes. Turn over and cook a few minutes longer or until underside is golden. Transfer to a plate; keep warm. Repeat until all batter is used.
- Serve hot with maple syrup or agave nectar.
Makes 9 servings (2 pancakes per serving)
Nutrition Facts per serving (pancakes only): 170 calories; 6g fat (1g sat fat, 2g mono, 2g poly, 0g trans fat); 45mg cholesterol; 25g carbohydrate (3g fiber, 7g sugar); 6g protein; 240mg sodium; 50% Daily Value (dv) vitamin A; 4% dv vitamin C; 10% dv calcium; 8% dv iron
What’s your favorite sweet potato recipe?