I started buying sweet potatoes when my kids were babies. I made homemade baby food, and sweet potatoes were a good choice because they were easy to blend into a smooth texture. I added nothing but enough water to cook them. To store, I spooned it into ice cube trays and put them into the freezer. When frozen, I put the cubes into Zip Lock bags. This made for easy portion control. I would just take out one or two cubs and microwave them.
When my kids were a little older, I tried offering sweet potato as table food, mashed with brown sugar and cinnamon. They wouldn’t eat it. I kept trying, though, since sweet potatoes are such a great choice for the nutritional value they possess.
Sweet potatoes are loaded with Vitamins A and C, carotenoids, potassium, and a great source of fibre. So I kept trying to get the kids to eat them.
Then they started asking for bits of the raw sweet potato while I was chopping them. They loved them! So I asked myself, “Self, why are you bothering to cook these, mash them, and add butter, milk, brown sugar, and cinnamon, when the kids like them better raw?” I answered myself, which could be a bad sign, “Self, you are so brilliant! Just serve them raw with a veggie tray.”
After I came up with this brilliant idea, I started to see veggie trays with sweet potato sticks all over the place. Amazing how my idea caught on. Oh, well. As long as we are eating our veggies, it doesn’t matter who gets the credit.
Sweet potatoes are often confused with yams. Yams are toxic if eaten raw. DON’T EAT RAW YAMS! Yams are not generally available in North American markets. Yams are grown primarily in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania. They are grown on a vine, and can be up to seven feet long. They are sweeter than sweet potatoes, but are not as nutritious. The sweet potatoes available in North American markets come in two varieties, one has yellow flesh and is dry in texture. The ones that I have written about are the variety with orange flesh. They are crisp and moist when eaten raw.
For Thanksgiving, go ahead and eat them with butter and sugar and marshmallows or however your mother and grandmother made them for thanksgiving. But for Christmas, put out a veggie tray with sweet potato sticks and see who can guess what they are.