Until a few years ago, I only thought about serving sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving and Christmas. And then, only mashed up with butter, brown sugar, and topped with marshmallows. Now don’t get me wrong, I still serve a variation of the above for the holidays, but we now eat sweet potatoes at least once a week. And why? Because we love the flavor and they are good for us.

FYI: Even though garnet and ruby sweet potatoes are often labeled as yams, they are not indeed yams. They are sweet potatoes, and as such are rich in vitamin C, thiamine, niacin and potassium. And although a sweet potato is known to be moderately high in protein, about 5 grams of protein in an 8 ounce serving, as with most plant sourced protein, the proteins in sweet potatoes do not provide all the essential amino acids your body needs. So bear that in mind when you are considering your body’s daily nutritional requirements.

A little bit of history about sweet potatoes.  Sweet potatoes come in two varieties, firm and soft. The soft varieties such as Garnet, Ruby, and Jewel are easy to find and are perfect when you want a soft and creamy texture. Firmer varieties such as Kotobuki and Yellow Jersey (grown in the Mid-Atlantic States) are favored for Asian and East Indian cuisine. Apparently the term “yam” came into the common vernacular when sweet potatoes were first grown commercially.  To differentiate between the soft varieties and the firm varieties, soft sweet potatoes were labeled as “yams”, while the firmer varieties retained the sweet potato name.  Today, about 95% of real yams are grown in Asia and Africa. Unless you specifically search for yams, which are usually only found at an international market, you are probably buying sweet potatoes!

(To my mind, the delectable Ipomoea batatas tuber can call itself anything it wants.  As long it continues to appear at farmer’s markets, produce stands, and in the produce section of my local grocery store, I will remain a happy camper. And over the next few weeks and months I will share more wonderful recipes for sweet potatoes with you. But for now, give this delightful recipe a try. It is incredibly easy to prepare and even easier to eat.)

  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large ruby or garnet sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, honey, and olive oil. Add the sweet potato pieces and stir until every surface is lightly coated. Pour onto a parchment paper lined rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with kosher salt and a very light sprinkling of pepper. Bake in the middle of a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 60 minutes or until potatoes are tender and the bottom of each piece is a nice golden brown. Serve hot out of the oven.