sweet potato

The sweet potato is often confused for a yam.

They're irresistibly sweet, creamy, and in many parts of the world considered a snack treat: No, not candy, sweet potatoes.

And if that's not enough to get you eating more of them, consider this: a 3.5-ounce serving contains twice the recommended daily amount of vitamin A, is a good source of vitamin C, and has a mere 141 calories.

Along with all this good news comes a bit of confusion. This healthy root vegetable is consistently misidentified as a yam, which is a much larger tuber grown in tropical climates, but with a similar sweetness and starchy texture.

True yams, which do not have the same nutritional benefits of sweet potatoes, are not common to North America and usually are found only in ethnic markets. But many stores label sweet potatoes as yams, and what are sold as canned yams are actually sweet potatoes (read the label carefully).

When buying sweet potatoes, which can be light yellow to ruby red (darker usually means moister), choose those with smooth skins and that are free of bruises.

Unlike most other canned vegetables, which suffer significant nutrient loss during processing, canned sweet potatoes (yams) are just as nutritious as fresh.

This simple recipe for mashed sweet potatoes, apples and honey calls for canned sweet potatoes and jarred chunky apple sauce. If you like, you can bake and peel four medium fresh sweet potatoes and substitute them for the canned.

The dish melds the creamy textured, sugary sweet potatoes with the sweetness of apples and honey, which are traditionally eaten during the Rosh Hashana holiday to symbolize a sweet year to come.

You can prepare the recipe entirely in the microwave, freeing up the stovetop and oven for the rest of your meal.

Mashed sweet potato, apples and honey

Start to finish: 15 minutes

Servings: 6

One 2-pound 8-ounce can sweet potatoes (usually called yams) in syrup, drained

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup chunky applesauce

In a large microwave-safe bowl, mash the sweet potatoes with a potato masher or fork. Stir in the honey, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir in the applesauce

Cover the bowl, then microwave on high for 3 to 5 minutes, or until hot, stirring once midway through.

Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 245 calories; 6 calories from fat; 1 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 58 g carbohydrate; 3 g protein; 6 g fiber; 268 mg sodium.

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