Sweet potatoes are starchy and moist with a rich, sweet flavor. They are also packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, and phytochemicals. The delicious flavor and extensive nutritional benefits are certainly good reasons to learn how to cook sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes contain an abundance of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is found in brightly colored vegetables, so sweet potatoes with brightly-colored flesh are the best sources. Select sweet potatoes that feel heavier than their size suggests. The heaviness means the flesh inside is dense and will probably have a moist, soft interior. Avoid sweet potatoes that have sprouts or bruising.
Yam and sweet potato are terms that are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same vegetable. There are over 6,500 sweet potato strains. They are usually oval-shaped and tapered with yellow, orange, red, brown, or purple skin. The flesh of sweet potatoes can be white, pink or red, yellow, orange, or purple. Sweet potatoes with white or yellow flesh are dry and less sweet than the more colorful strains. The purple, red, and orange varieties are used in casseroles and holiday dishes. The white and yellow types are often used in soups.
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