Baked potatoes make a satisfying lunch or dinner, but if you're going to bake a potato, go the healthier route and choose sweet potatoes. They are such a healthy and cozy side dish or entree for the fall and winter months. I admit, growing up I wasn’t fond of sweet potatoes. I rarely saw them outside Thanksgiving holiday: smeared in a casserole dish, smothered in marshmallows and brown sugar (Stan loves them prepared this way) Just something about it, didn’t sit right. It was too sweet, too mushy, too sticky- not very appealing nor did I enjoy the texture. Totally, channeling my inner Goldilocks😊I had my first baked sweet potato a few years ago at a gathering where russet AND sweet potatoes were wrapped and baked in foil. The clincher— the cooks lost sight of which were the russets and which were the sweet potatoes. I really wasn’t in the mood to experiment. I grabbed one and hoped for the Russet. Opened the hot foil packet-it was a sweet potato. Yikes! Ok, I added a few fixings (a sprinkle of feta, a drizzle of maple syrup, sprinkle of cinnamon), sat down and voila! Although eating sweet potatoes took me a while to really enjoy, turns out, I love sweet potatoes — Amazing! However, these days I enjoy this plant-powered lunch a bit more savory packed with heart-healthy options like black beans, cotija cheese, green onions good-for-you fats from avocado and sesame seed, and a sprinkle of cinnamon, which has been known to help regulate blood sugar, an important element of longevity and health. A spoonful of optional sour cream or crème fraîche rounds out the dish, but it can easily be swapped with a dairy-free sour cream or yogurt if desired. It’s baked up nice and puffy, with caramelized edges and a crispy skin. Absolutely Delish! This dish will fuel your afternoon and keep you satisfied until dinner time. Often for me it turns out being an early dinner! Baking sweet potatoes is crazy simple. You don’t need to slice or chop them, just wash, season and bake!TO FOIL OR NOT TO FOILI grew up thinking everyone wrapped potatoes before baking! Who didn’t? However, I’ve since learned that not only is it unnecessary, it also steams the potatoes and makes the skin soggy and soft rather than crisp the way I like it. I know it feels weird to put a naked potato in the oven, but trust me…they taste so much better this way. Some people will recommend placing the potatoes directly on the oven rack for baking, but I do recommend placing them on a baking sheet (or at least having a baking sheet on the rack below). This is especially true when baking sweet potatoes because they tend to release sticky, sugary juice while baking and it can make your oven pretty messy.Whichever way you choose to enjoy your versatile baked sweet potatoes, we’re hoping they’ll become a weeknight repeat.
Baking sweet potatoes is crazy simple. You don’t need to slice or chop them, just wash, season and bake!Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
Prep your potato: scrub the sweet potatoes with a scrub brush under running water to remove dirt and debris. Use a clean kitchen towel or paper towel to pat dry. Use a fork prick sweet potatoes about 6-8 times depending on the size.
Rub the skins with oil; season with a pinch each of salt, pepper, and cinnamon. You can totally skip the oil and sea salt if you want. The skin won’t be as crisp, but the baked sweet potatoes will still be delicious.
Bake – Place the potatoes in a baking dish or rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake for about an hour, depending on how big your potatoes are. Flip the potatoes over about halfway through cooking. They’re ready when the flesh is soft. You can test it with a knife!
Meanwhile, in a small bowl stir together black beans, a dash of cinnamon and season to taste. Using a small knife cut a slit ontop of potatoes and season insides to taste. Divide bean mixture and avocado between potatoes. Serve hot, with sour cream or crème fraîche, toasted sesame seeds, and a generous pinch of cinnamon. You can also add feta or cotija cheese. Enjoy!
Shopping and Storing Potatoes
When shopping for sweet potatoes, look for firm, unwrinkled skins. Sweet potatoes come in all different colors – creamy white, deep orange and purple.Store your sweet potatoes in your pantry or on the countertop at room temperature. They’ll last about a week before they start to go bad (which usually means getting wrinkly and soft).
To Microwave Or Not?
Many people bake potatoes and many recommend “baking” sweet potatoes in the microwave because it’s quick, easy and oftentimes safer, especially for those individuals who are blind, low vision or have other circumstances which challenges navigating a hot oven. The microwave is absolutely a great alternative. Here’s the science- Microwaved sweet potatoes can taste dull because the natural sugars in the sweet potato don’t get a chance to caramelize as they do in the oven, the skin doesn’t crisp up and the texture of the flesh is mushy and well, blah. BUT, don’t fret.
HERE’S HOW TO ADD FLAVOR
After baking (or nuking) your sweet potato you can get incredibly creative. Here are some ideas:Classic baked potato toppings – Add sour cream, cheese, bacon, green onion or butter. It’s also delicious with just butterFor vegan option— sour cream or vegan butter.
Sweet cinnamon – with cinnamon butter and salt. You can also add an extra hint of sweetness with a sprinkle of coconut sugar or a drizzle of maple syrup or honey. For a vegan version without butter, use coconut butter. It’s delish!
Dessert Baked Sweet Potato – The sweetness of the potato pairs perfectly with sweet toppings like coconut butter, almond butter and chocolate.
Mexi-Cali Stuffed Sweet Potato – This veggie stuffed sweet potato is loaded with black beans, bell pepper, mushrooms and topped with a zesty tahini dressing.
Upgraded breakfast – Add scrambled eggs or tofu and your favorite breakfast foods: breakfast sausage or bacon, plant-based proteins, shredded cheese, sliced avocado and dash of hot sauce.
What’s The DifferenceYams tend to have brown-ish, rougher skin and lighter flesh. They’re also starchier and dryer when cooked.Sweet potatoes have more tapered ends, reddish-orange skin and vibrant orange flesh – though they can come in a variety of colors from white to orange to purple. Sweet potatoes are also sweeter (hence their name) when they’re cooked.