Sweet potatoes are often compared to regular potatoes due to them sharing a name, but apart from that they are a completely different vegetable from a different food family! The sweet potato has been sweeping the recipe world by storm for a few years now and with good reason; they are highly nutritious, delicious and extremely versatile. For a plant-based meal the sweet potato can take the lead being a filling and satisfying main component while packing a unique nutritional punch.
Nutrition-wise they are packed with beta-carotene which is what gives the flesh its rich, orange pigment. When ingested with a healthy dose of ‘good fat’ this will convert into vitamin A. We need vitamin A for healthy skin and mucus membranes, our immune system, and good eye health and vision; the sweet potato is an excellent, concentrated source of this.
Beta carotene is an antioxidant; a substance that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules which protects the body from free radicals. Free radicals damage cells through oxidation, this damage can eventually cause several chronic illnesses. Several studies have shown that antioxidants through diet aid our immune system, protect against free radicals, and lower the risk of developing cancer and heart disease.
The sweet potato also contains high levels of vitamin C, B1, B2, and B3 and is low in carbohydrates, high in fibre, as well as plenty of other nutrients which are anti-inflammatory and regulate blood-sugar. In animal studies, reduced inflammation following sweet potato consumption has been shown in brain tissue and nerve tissue throughout the body.
Sweet potatoes, as opposed to their starchier root vegetable cousins, are low in carbohydrates and have the ability to improve blood sugar regulation by significantly increasing Adiponectin in the blood. This is a protein hormone produced by our fat cells which is an important modifier of insulin metabolism.
As well as being exceptionally good for us, sweet potatoes re such a tasty and versatile friend when it comes to the ingredients list in a recipe. They can be added to a plethora of dishes to add flavour and texture but can also stand alone as the main event of a meal. A loaded, baked sweet potato, for example, can provide a ‘super-meal’ if you keep the topping healthy and diverse. Due to it having a naturally sweet taste you can even incorporate the sweet potato into your desserts and even have it for breakfast! The latter being the least common way to utilise the vegetable provoked me to go on the hunt for the best sweet potato breakfast recipes for you; here are a few of my favourites..
Sweet Potato Pancakes
These pancakes have a crispy, caramelised outside and creamy, sweet interior, they’re so easy to make, have barely any ingredients, they’re healthy and perfect for serving with maple syrup or nut butters.
- 1 medium sweet potato, baked and cooled (about 8 ounces of baked sweet potato)
- 2 large eggs
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- Pinch of ground cinnamon, optional
- Combine the sweet potato, eggs, salt, and cinnamon in a small blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Alternatively, you can stir the ingredients together in a small bowl with a spoon, but some sweet potato chunks may remain. Set the batter aside to rest while you heat the pan.
- Heat an 8-inch nonstick pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 cup of the batter and cook for 3 minutes — this batter won’t bubble up like traditional pancake batter. Gently flip the pancake with a thin spatula and cook for an additional 3 minutes on the second side.
- Repeat with remaining batter and serve warm.
Sweet Potato Toasts
You can put anything you like on top of your sweet potato toast (which you bake in the toaster, yes seriously!) but some mashed avocado, sautéed spinach and a fried egg is one of my favourites!
- 1 small sweet potato, cut lengthwise into 1/4″ slices
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 avocado
- 1 giant handful baby spinach
- garlic salt, seasonings
- Add a sweet potato slice to each toaster slot then toast on high for the longest duration offered by your toaster. Flip and rotate the sweet potato slices then toast again on high and for the longest duration. If the sweet potato slices aren’t tender by this point, flip and rotate once more then toast a third time (might only need half the duration as previous rounds.) Top toasted sweet potato slices with avocado mashed with a little garlic salt then set aside.
- Meanwhile, place a small skillet over medium-high heat then add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Add baby spinach then season with garlic salt and sauté until tender. Place on top of mashed avocado.
- Turn heat down to medium then cook eggs to your liking – sunny side up, fried, scrambled, etc – seasoning with the seasoning of your choice (garlic salt and pepper is just fine) Place eggs on top of spinach then serve.
Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowl
This is by far the healthiest option of the bunch and you can chop and change your toppings as you prefer, choose seasonal fruits and vary the nuts and seeds for example.
- 1 sweet potato, baked and very hot
- 2 eggs, whisked
- 1 ripe banana, peeled
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- sea salt, to taste
- Fruits – cherries, figs, blueberries, raspberries, banana, sautéed apples
- Dried fruit – dried cherries, raisins, apricots, blueberries, or cranberries
- Nuts – slivered almonds, walnuts, or pecans
- Nut butter – almond butter or sun butter
- Seeds – pepitas, chia seeds, hemp seeds
- Cacao nibs
- Coconut flakes
- Coconut cream
- Coconut butter
- Bake or steam your sweet potato.
- Make sure your sweet potato is piping hot; if not coming straight out of the oven, reheat it. This step is vital in cooking the whisked egg. Peel sweet potato.
- In a medium bowl, combine sweet potato flesh and whisked eggs. Mash, moving pretty quickly, until the sweet potato is smooth and the mixture is totally combined. Continue mashing until the egg loses its gloss, giving it about 30 seconds to 1 minute to “cook.”
- Add the banana, ghee, cinnamon, and salt and mash again until very smooth. Taste and add more salt or cinnamon, if desired.
- Add toppings and serve.
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