When the Spanish explorers first came to the New World they were searching for an ocean route to India and its fabled treasures of gold, silver, spices and jewels. They found themselves on two new continents, North and South America. They found many other things far more valuable than the treasures they were seeking including three of the world’s most important food plants: corn, the white or Irish potato, and sweet potato.
Of the 200 or more varieties there are two main types. The "Jersey" and related varieties having dry mealy flesh are favored in the northern states. The other type, more watery but richer in sugar and more soft and gelatinous when cooked, is favored in our southern states where they are called "yams". The true yam, however, originated in China and is a different plant related to the lilies. The Irish potato, believe it or not, belongs to the Nightshade Family.
It's no surprise that sweet potatoes are at the top of nearly everyone's healthiest foods list. One baked, medium-sized sweet potato contains 438% of your daily value of vitamin A (a white potato contains 1%), 37% of your vitamin C, and some calcium, potassium, and iron too. All this at just 105 calories! What's more, they also deliver 4 grams of dietary fiber—16% of the daily value—and absolutely zip in terms of fat.
Look for the tastiest potatoes in their peak season: winter. Choose firm potatoes that are small to medium in size with smooth, unblemished skins. If you do not plan to use the potatoes right away, store them in a cool, dry, dark place. Do not refrigerate sweet potatoes, as they will dry out and will produce a hard center and unpleasant taste. Instead, store your sweet potatoes in a cool, dry, well ventilated container, like a basket.
I have been making sweet potato chips that past few weeks. They are quick and easy to make and a healthy option to regular potato chips.
Sweet Potato Chips
2 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed and sliced 1/8 inch thick*
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with racks in center and lower positions.
2. Divide sweet potatoes between 2 rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle with oil, toss, and spread them in a single layer on sheets.
3. Bake, flipping once, until centers are soft and edges are crisp, 15- 20 minutes. (I watch them closely as they can quickly burn if left in too long.)
* A mandolin works great for slicing them 1/8th inch thick.