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Sweet Potato Surprises

They're sweet, sort of, and good for us - and they're not yams or potatoes

Sweet potatoes see a spike in popularity as Thanksgiving approaches. They are, however, a super-nutritious treat any time of year. They will fit into any recipe that calls for regular potatoes. In fact, chips and fries are very taste, too.

You'll find two distinct types at most supermarkets. One is a lighter skinned variety that flakes like a Russet potato. The other is darker orange and sweeter - it's the type typically candied and topped with marshmallows.

We refer to them in the U.S. as sweet potatoes or yams, but in fact the two are not even distantly related. Specialty markets may carry "true" yams, but most groceries do not. Even the canned varieties of "yams" are just sweet potatoes.

Once you get sweet potatoes home, keep them in a cool spot and try to use them within a week or so. Do not store in the refrigerator, though. The too-cool temps will adversely affect the sweet potato's taste.

If you prefer a sweet potato baked in foil, add butter (or margarine) or for a more healthy topping, try fat-free sour cream or yogurt.

Sweet potatoes are easier to peel after they have been baked or boiled.

You can also make oven-baked fries. These should be peeled first, when they're raw. Slice them in thin strips, coat in oil and place on a baking sheet that is covered with foil. Sprinkle with salt and bake at 375ºF. until crisp.

Sweet potato crisps (chips) are also becoming very popular. Slice into very thin disks and place in a bowl of ice cold water. Leave for an hour and then drain. Fry at 375º in a deep fryer (or in a deep skillet on the stovetop) until crisp. Drain, add salt, and they're ready to serve. They'll keep, too, bagged and in the fridge for later snacking.

After sweet potatoes are cooked they can be refrigerated and the flavor will not be harmed. They also freeze well and are a terrific makeahead dish for Thanksgiving.




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