The Versatile and Nutritious Sweet Potato

April 22, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
A sweet potato is delicious and nutritious
A sweet potato is delicious and nutritious. (Maureen Zebian/The Epoch Times)

What is the difference between a sweet potato and a yam? It seems in the United States that the sweet potato and yam are used interchangeably. But there is a difference. The yam is native to Africa and grows only in tropical climates. The fact is, yams don’t grow in the United States and are not related to sweet potatoes. Yams also look different, as they are rough and scaly.

Sweet potatoes are nutritious. They are a great source of beta carotene, which gives them their orange pigment. Beta carotene acts as an antioxidant in neutralizing free radicals that attack and cause damage to other molecules in the body.

Sweet potatoes are also lower in carbohydrates for those who are trying to reduce their carbohydrate intake. Sweet potatoes contain virtually no fat and are low in sodium. They are also a substantial source of dietary fiber, especially when eaten with the skin.

Sweet Potato Caramel Pie
Makes 2 large pies

1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 (7-ounce) can flaked coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups cooked sweet potato puree
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 (8-ounce) containers whipped topping, thawed
2 vanilla wafer pie shells
1 (12-ounce) jar caramel ice cream topping

Melt butter in large skillet. Add coconut and pecans. Cook until golden brown, stirring frequently. Set mixture aside.

Combine cream cheese, sweet potatoes, and condensed milk. Beat until smooth. Fold in whipped topping. Spread 1/2 of cream cheese mixture in each pie shell. Drizzle 1/4 of caramel topping on each pie. Sprinkle 1/4 of coconut mixture over each pie. Repeat layers with remaining ingredients.

Cover and freeze until firm. Let stand at room temperature 5 minutes before serving.

Sweet Potato Mini-Muffins
Makes 12 dozen

3 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
4 eggs
2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (8-ounce) box dates, chopped
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts, walnuts, or pecans
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

In a large mixing bowl cream sugar and oil. Add eggs (one at a time). Add vanilla, sweet potatoes, 3 1/2 cups flour, soda, salt, and spices just until blended. An electric mixer may be used. Coat nuts and dates with 1/4 cup flour and fold into batter.

Grease mini-muffin pans and fill 2/3 full with batter. Bake at 325 degrees F for 25 minutes. (Batter freezes well.)

Sweet Potato Casserole

3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup raisins

Mix all ingredients and pour into casserole dish.


1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup margarine
1/2 cup flour

Mix well and spread over potatoes. Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees F) for 20 minutes.

C.J.’s Oatmeal Sweet Potato Cookies
Makes 6 dozen

In a large mixing bowl combine:

1 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar

Cream well and add:

1 tablespoon vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup cooked and pureed sweet potatoes

Beat well and add:

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon soda
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
3 cups 1-minute oats
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Roll into 3 rolls. Wrap in foil and freeze. Slice and bake at 350 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Recipes are from the Mississippi Sweet Potato Council. For more recipes go to: