Sweet Potato Love
I recently had to do a comprehensive project on a commodity of my choice. For some reason, I decided to pick sweet potatoes because come on, who doesn't want to learn more about sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are quite versatile ingredients to use in cooking. They can be baked, boiled, mashed, sliced, toasted, steamed, and can be used to make many different types of dishes. This post marks the second #thebasics recipe, because I reckon that a good sweet potato chip recipe is one that everyone needs to have in their repertoire. This recipe requires only a few simple ingredients to make the most delicious, crispy, satisfying sweet potato chips :)
The Sweet Potato Plant
The figure below is a cool diagram that I found depicting the different botanical parts of the sweet potato plant . Sweet potato tubers grow from vines that propagate along the ground and send out roots that penetrate deep into the soil . Sweet potatoes as we know them are essentially root tubers of the Ipomoea batatas L. plant, which develop as part of secondary root growth that originates from nodules in the original root system . The sweet potato tubers grow from these nodules into large, fleshy, edible roots that are actually produced by the plant for storage purposes.
Sweet Potato Composition & Nutrition
Sweet potatoes provide approximately 251 kJ per 100 g serving, a similar amount of total kilojoules to that provided by normal potatoes . Sweet potato tubers are mostly made up of carbohydrates, which provide most of the caloric content of the tubers . One cup of cooked sweet potato (approximately 200 g) is made up of :
- 40 g carbohydrates
- 7 g fibre
- 4 g protein
Sucrose is the principal sugar found in sweet potatoes, with smaller amounts of glucose and fructose also present as monosaccharides . The main protein found in sweet potatoes is globulin, which has a relatively high nutritional value due to its inclusion of many essential amino acids . Nevertheless, it does not contain sufficient amounts of tryptophan and other sulphur-containing amino acids to be classified as a complete protein source . The protein content of sweet potatoes is highly variable, and depends on the variety, environmental conditions, and genetics of the plant, amongst other things .
Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes contain a significant amount of pro-vitamin A carotenoids, which are converted to vitamin A in the body. Sweet potatoes also contain significant amounts of vitamins such as thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), and vitamin C, however, methods of cooking such as boiling and steaming can result in the loss of many of these water-soluble vitamins . Sweet potatoes provide variable amounts of minerals such as potassium, sodium, calcium, chloride, and phosphorous to the diet, and interestingly enough their peels contain more minerals than their flesh (so try to cook them with their peels on) .
Potential Health Benefits of Sweet Potato
- Preventing vitamin A deficiency - Globally, sweet potato has a significant role to play in preventing vitamin A deficiency, which is prevalent in many developing countries worldwide . Vitamin A deficiency can result in temporary and permanent eye impairments, as well as death amongst children, and pregnant and lactating women . Due to their high pro-vitamin A carotenoid content, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes can substantially increase the vitamin A status of individuals who consume them .
- Weight loss support - Sweet potatoes have a lower glycaemic index (GI) than regular potatoes, meaning that they are digested and absorbed more slowly in the digestive tract, resulting in a steady supply of glucose in the bloodstream and more sustained energy . Low GI foods may help control appetite and balance blood sugar levels, which can help with both managing weight and reducing the risk of developing insulin resistance .
- Healthy skin - Including orange-fleshed sweet potatoes can promote skin health due to their beta-carotene content, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A plays an important role in triggering DNA responsible for producing new skin cells .
- Antioxidant properties - Many studies suggest that the carotenoids and polyphenols found in sweet potatoes can be useful in treating inflammatory conditions such as heart disease, as well as cancer .
- Healthy vision & eye health - Beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body, plays an important role in preventing macular degeneration, which can lead to blindness . This is because vitamin A is a critical component of rhodopsin, which is the molecule that is activated when light shines on the retina and sends a signal to the brain, which results in us being able to see things .
Total time: 45min
- 2 medium sweet potatoes
- 1-2 garlic cloves (this depends on your taste), chopped & minced
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, chopped
- 2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Salt (TT)
- Pepper (TT)
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (170 degrees C for fan-assisted ovens). Line a baking sheet with baking paper.
- Wash, scrub, and dry off the sweet potatoes properly. Slice the sweet potatoes into wedges/chips of approximately length and size to ensure even cooking.
- Toss the sweet potato chips in the olive oil, rosemary, minced garlic, salt, and pepper until they are properly coated.
- Place the chips on the lined baking sheet, ensuring that they have some space between them. This ensures that they will get nice and crispy on all sides :)
- Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, checking them halfway to flip the chips over and ensure that nothing is burning. Remove from the oven when the chips are nice and crispy.
- Allow to cool down a little bit before serving.
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