Sweet potatoes bring nutrients to the Thanksgiving table

By Tanya Davis | Published Wednesday, November 25, 2015

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One of my contributions to my mother’s Thanksgiving dinner will be Sweet Potato Holiday Casserole, which was a favorite at a recent Cooking Well with Diabetes class.

Sweet potatoes are a Native American plant that was the main source of nourishment for early homesteaders and for soldiers during the Revolutionary War.

These tuberous roots are among the most nutritious foods in the vegetable kingdom. They are packed with calcium, potassium and vitamins A and C. This is why one colonial physician called them the “vegetable indispensable.”

When selecting sweet potatoes, choose firm, dark, smooth sweet potatoes without wrinkles, bruises, sprouts or decay. Even if cut away, a decayed spot may have already caused the whole potato to have an unpleasant flavor.

Sweet potatoes spoil rapidly. To keep them fresh, store them in a dry, cool (55- to 60-degree) place such as the pantry or garage. Do not store them in the refrigerator. They will develop a hard core and an “off” taste.

If stored properly, sweet potatoes will keep for a month or longer. Do not wash them until you are ready to cook them. The moisture from washing will increase their chance of spoiling.

When possible, cook them whole because most of the nutrients are next to the skin, and skins are easier to remove after they have been cooked.

Pierce skin with a fork. Place potatoes in a pan and cook in a 375-degree oven for 45 minutes or until tender. Cool potatoes slightly before removing skins.

Sweet potatoes can be cooked in a microwave oven to save time. Wash and pierce potatoes, then place them on a paper towel. The cooking time for two medium potatoes is five to nine minutes on high.


Servings: 6

  • 3 packets Sweet’N Low
  • 2 large 1-pound baked sweet potatoes, peeled
  • one 5-ounce can evaporated skim milk
  • 1 egg, plus 2 egg whites
  • teaspoon vanilla
  • teaspoon salt


  • 2 tablespoons light margarine, melted
  • 1 cup crushed bran flakes
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • teaspoon cinnamon
  • cup chopped pecans (optional)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Blend the first five ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour the mixture into a casserole dish that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Mix the topping ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Spoon the topping over the sweet potato mixture. Bake the potatoes for 30 to 40 minutes or until they are bubbly and lightly browned on top.

Nutrition information per serving – 194 calories; 337 mg sodium; 32 g carbohydrate; 9 g fiber; 6 g protein; 5 g fat.

Tanya Davis is a Wise County Extension agent.

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