Monday, December 22, 2008
Yams or Sweet Potatoes... what's the difference?
There is so much confusion between yams and sweet potatoes. They look the same, they taste the same and you never really know which you are eating at any given time.
So I am going to do my best and give you some information on why these two roots are different from each other and not to be mistaken. However you can still choose to interchange them in recipes-I always do!
Yams were first cultivated in Africa and are part of the tuber family. They are very popular in tropical regions of the world. They are round and elongated with a thick, scaly or rough skin and it's flesh can be either white, ivory, cream, pink or purple. Yams are typically mores starchy and dry. However the most common variety has a deep orange flesh, which is why they are often mistaken for sweet potatoes. Most of the time they are also mislabeled in stores and are actually sweet potatoes!
Sweet Potatoes on the other hand, are native to South America and is part of the morning glory family. Sweet potatoes are actually not at all related to Yams or Potatoes. They are very sweet and dark and sometimes mislabeled as Yams. Sweet potatoes have a wide center and taper at both ends. They also have a thin and smooth skin. Sweet potatoes are also sometimes mislabeled when actually they are yams.
I know it can be confusing...but when it comes to their nutritional content and health benefits they are pretty much the same with a few unique qualities between the two.
They are both amazing sources of beta carotene, an antioxidant found in most orange fleshed foods such as mangoes and carrots. They are both high in vitamin A and C with a good amount of thiamine. They are nourishing to the spleen, pancreas and stomach. Yams are particularly known for it's properties to help regulate menses and prevent miscarriages. Yams also help to treat fatigue, inflammation, spasms and stress.
For more information on the differences between Yams and Sweet potatoes you can read upon the loads of articles and resources on the net with sometimes confusing but insightful information these roots. Or you can always check out Rebecca Wood's Whole Foods Encyclopedia for a small description on the description, health benefits and uses for each.
So in conclusion, both roots are amazing for their own unique properties. Now you can be just a bit more aware of which varieties you are eating (if it is labelled correctly). Either way both are sure to please your palate and make wonderful ingredients for side dishes, soups, dips, pancakes or pies!
Yummy Yam Pecan Pie
1 cup almonds, ground
1 cup brown rice flour
2 tablespoon maple crystals
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of sea salt
3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 cups mashed or cooked yams or sweet potatoes (you can always buy canned organic sweet potatoes or yams if necessary)
1 cup vanilla soymilk
3/4 cup maple sugar or sucanat
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon fair trade vanilla
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup chopped pecans, mixed with 1 tablespoon maple syrup and 1 tablespoon coconut oil and roasted for 5-10 minutes at 200F
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Oil a 9 in tart pan or a few mini tart pans.
For the Crust:
2. In food processor, grind nuts to meal. In mixing bowl, combine nuts, flour, maple crystals, baking powder and salt.
3. In separate small bowl, whish together oil and maple syrup
4. Mix wet ingredients (oil and syrup) into dry ingredients (nut meal and flours).
5. Press crust mixture into tart pan.
For the Filling:
1. Blend all the ingredients in a vita mix or a blender until well combined.
2. Pour the filling into the pie crust and bake for 45-60 minutes.
3. Cool on rack and then refrigerate over night before serving.