Sweet Potatoes…these lovely rich colored root vegetables have so much good stuff to offer us. Also, the great news for you whole food converts is that they’re on EWG’s Clean 15 List! That’s great news if you’re on a tight budget because they’re quite inexpensive to buy and enjoy. These sweet roots are full of vitamins A, C, Potassium and Calcium. They’re quite the super food for their health benefits and they’re hard to dislike with their rich sweetness. Cooking them with the right ingredients just accentuates their rich deliciousness.
As with any of my recipes, I do my best to keep sweeteners lower when possible for health’s sake. I do love sweet stuff, but I know it’s detrimental to our health, so I simply minimize it when possible. Luckily with a fantastic vegetable like the sweet potato we can easily use it’s natural sweetness to achieve that desired flavor and just add a little bit of accentuating ingredients to get that YUM we’re looking for. In this recipe I use just a little real maple syrup (please don’t even attempt to insult this fabulous veggie with a fake syrup sweetener, use the real deal!) and a smidge of brown sugar to help achieve that extra bit of sweet we love to taste in this sweet veggie.
The sweet potatoes you see pictured for this recipe are briefly broiled after baking, but careful not to broil too long, they will still taste great, but have a more scorched look as you see here. My guys don’t seem to mind, but it’s a personal preference.
Not a Yam
Sweet potatoes are easily confused with yams. I’ve heard all sorts of talk on yams and sweet potatoes and even that yams “are” sweet potatoes, but there is a real difference between them. Here’s an article on the difference. Even those candied “yams” (usually made from canned “yams”) you might have grown up with on the holidays were actually sweet potatoes, not yams. It’s funny how many of us have confused these tubers for so long. Actual yams originated from Africa, Asia and other tropical regions. So next time you’re walking by the potato section of your store and wondering what you’re actually looking at, it’s most likely sweet potato, (but still “might” be labeled yam) unless you’re in a specialty store that carries both. Yams will have a charcoal colored bark-like skin, unlike the coppery color of the sweet potato.
Speedy Sweet Potato Baking vs Slow Baking
I’ve baked my sweet potatoes the slow way in the oven and also sped up the process in the microwave for convenience sake. I’ll give you both versions so you can decide what method you prefer and works for your timing. I’ll be honest though, in my hectic hungry boy household I use the microwave method most of the time just for the 1st bake. It’s so quick and easy it’s hard for me resist when I just want to put a hot meal on the table on cold days that I know my guys will enjoy! If it’s a really cold blustery day and I don’t mind warming up the house, I’ll bake them in the oven the old fashioned way.
My recipe card below will have the quick cooking method in the instructions.
Sweet Potato Slow Baking Method
The trick is to NOT preheat your oven. Yes, I know this sounds unorthodox for you skilled cooks out there who are as adamant as we are when it comes to properly preheating the oven to temp.
- Wash your sweet potatoes and dry with paper towels
- Stab each with a fork just 3-4 times around
- Place the sweet potatoes directly onto the oven rack in the middle, about 3 inches apart
- Place a large sheet of foil on the bottom of your oven, just covering the area below where your potatoes are to catch syrup that will drip down. Careful not to cover any vents in the oven and no need to cover entire bottom.
- Close the oven and turn it onto 425 degrees and set a timer for 40 minutes.
- To check the potatoes for doneness after this time simply poke the fattest one with a sharp knife making sure it pokes through the skin easily. (You don’t want them too soft since you will still need to slice them in half and re-stuffed)
- Turn off the oven and let them sit in the oven with the oven off for 30 minutes minimum, 1 hr max.
- Continue with instructions on recipe card below from #8 to end for twice baked recipe.
*** If you want to simply make beautifully Baked Sweet Potatoes without continuing with “twice baked” you can continue cooking about another 15-20 minutes until knife easily slides through potato, continuing from Step 5 above and then follow with step 6 through 8 and enjoy a perfectly Baked Sweet Potato with your favorite whole toppings***
We’ve enjoyed the basic baked sweet potato with chili on top as well as with just butter, salt and pepper.
To enjoy these speedy twice baked sweet potatoes, see recipe below. Enjoy with a green vegetable side or green salad for a satisfying but lighter meal.