Sweet potato

Sweet potatoes, a longtime favorite of Alabamians, are now officially the state vegetable. They're tasty and loaded with nutrients, but also more versatile than you might think, as Alabama cooks have demonstrated. (Getty Images)

Sweet potatoes pack a huge nutritional wallop, not to mention they are a delicious addition to any meal. And did you know that in 2021 Gov. Kay Ivey proclaimed the sweet potato Alabama’s official state vegetable? Thanks to the hard work of some homeschooled students in North Alabama, the Legislature recognized the tasty tuber with the honor.

Sweet potato crops bring in about $9 million to the state annually, according to the Alabama Farmers Federation. Alabama Living readers are big fans, as they sent in more recipes for sweet potatoes than any other topic this year. Try them all, and don’t feel a bit guilty, because a helping of sweet potatoes with the skin on gives you the following benefits:

Vitamin A n the form of beta carotene. A whole medium sweet potato contains 1,400 mcg of vitamin A in its skin. That’s more than 150% of your recommended daily amount in a single serving, which plays a role in vision, bone development and immune function.

Fiber adds the feelings of gratification, or feeling full, and aids in digestion. Fiber lowers high cholesterol levels, reduces the risk of heart disease, helps control blood sugar levels and helps in maintaining a healthy weight. A medium sweet potato (105 calories) baked in its skin has 4 grams of dietary fiber, equal to or greater than the fiber in some instant oatmeal.

Potassium. Eating habits including foods that are a good source of potassium, and that are low in sodium, may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. Potassium is a mineral crucial for life. It’s necessary for the heart, kidneys and other organs to work correctly.

Researchers have also determined that sweet potatoes contain anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic and anti-cancer properties.

(Source: Marilyn Agee-Carroll, Human Nutrition, Diet & Health regional Extension agent, Alabama Cooperative Extension System)

Sweet Potato Pound Cake

Rebecca Quick has been baking since she was in the fifth or sixth grade, so creating her Sweet Potato Pound Cake recipe came naturally. “My mother always baked a pound cake and we are all sweet potato people,” she says, so she made it her goal to create the best of both worlds. She looked up several recipes, including one by Paula Deen, and took her own mother’s recipe and added spices used for fruit cake and a little more cinnamon for taste. “It took me  a couple of times to get the right amount of potatoes,” she says, “and sometimes I use less potatoes. You want a really good sweet potato that’s not stringy and mashes good.” And she doesn’t use canned potatoes, as fresh is always best. She made the cake for her daughter for Thanksgiving and it was a “big hit.”

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, up to another ¼ teaspoon to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, or to taste
  • 2½ cups mashed sweet potatoes
  • 4 eggs
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup pecans, chopped.

Instructions

Cook potatoes, mash and set aside. Cream butter and sugars. Sift dry ingredients in bowl. To butter and sugar mixture, add eggs one at a time. Mix in sweet potatoes, then dry ingredients and vanilla. Pour into greased and floured Bundt pan and sprinkle with pecans. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-60 minutes. Check at 55 minutes to make sure it’s not too brown.

Rebecca Quick

Sweet Potato Soufflé

Ingredients

For the soufflé:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus ½ tablespoon for soufflé dishes
  • Sugar, for soufflé dish
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 1 cup mashed sweet potatoes
  • 3 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1/8 cup rum
  • ¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • Pinch of salt
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting.

For the rum sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¼ cup rum.

Instructions

For the soufflé:

Rub 1 large sweet potato with cooking oil. Place it on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour. Let cool and then remove the flesh and mash with a fork. After removing the sweet potato from the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Prepare four 6-ounce ramekins by buttering all sides and then dusting each with sugar, tapping out the excess. In a medium saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook while whisking until golden, about 2 minutes. Gradually add milk, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Stir in the mashed sweet potatoes and egg yolks, followed by the rum, maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; whip egg whites on high speed with a pinch of salt until it just reaches stiff peaks. Whisk ¼ of the whipped egg whites into the sweet potato mixture, then gently fold in the remaining whites using a rubber spatula. Pour mixture into the prepared ramekin dishes, filling nearly to the top and smoothing the surface. Place filled ramekins into a 9-by-12-inch baking dish. Cover the bottom of the baking dish with water. Bake 35 minutes in the preheated oven. Carefully remove soufflés from the oven, set each soufflé on a plate and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Rum sauce:

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Mix together the sugar and cornstarch and stir into the butter. Pour in milk and cook, stirring frequently until the mixture begins to boil. Continue cooking until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in rum. Serve warm.

Cook’s note: For the best and most dramatic effect, serve immediately; otherwise, like any good soufflé, they will begin to deflate as they cool. These may also be served as a side dish without the rum sauce.

Janet Parker

Sweet Potato Cake

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups mashed sweet potatoes or yams
  • 1¼ cups cooking oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cup nuts, chopped
  • ¾ cup coconut.

Frosting:

  • ½ stick butter
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 box confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
  • ½ cup + 1 tablespoon chopped nuts
  • ½ cup +1 tablespoon coconut.

Instructions

Beat eggs, sugar, sweet potatoes or yams (whichever used) and cooking oil together until mixed well. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and baking soda together, then beat in with egg mixture. Fold in chopped nuts and coconut and pour into greased and floured 13-by-9-by-2-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until the middle is firm to the touch. Allow the cake to cool until just warm and then frost. Combine all frosting ingredients and spread on cake while it is still warm.

Rita Briscoe

Sweet Potato Cobbler

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sweet potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups water
  • 1½ cups sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup plain flour
  • ½ cup milk
  • Cinnamon, to taste.

Instructions

Bring sweet potatoes and water to a boil, cooking until tender; drain potatoes. Add 1 cup sugar and butter; set aside. In a separate bowl, mix together oil, ½ cup sugar, flour and milk; pour into greased baking dish. Add hot sweet potatoes over batter. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Crust will envelop sweet potatoes as cobbler cooks.

Peggy Key

Sweet Potato Dumplings

Ingredients

  • 2 packages crescent rolls
  • 1 package sweet potato patties, cut in half
  • 2 cups water
  • 1½ sticks margarine
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
  • Cinnamon.

Instructions

Roll each potato patty half in a crescent triangle. Place in a baking dish. Heat water, sugar, margarine, cornstarch and vanilla. Pour over dumplings. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until crescent rolls are brown. Sprinkle with cinnamon when done.

Kim Johns

Sweet Potato Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups blanched almond flour
  • 2 cups tapioca flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 8 whole eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup pureed sweet potatoes
  • Sugar-free syrup.

Instructions

Mix both types of flour, baking soda, pie spice and sea salt together. Add eggs, sweet potato puree, vanilla and honey in another bowl. Pour the wet into the dry ingredients and stir in chocolate chips until batter is smooth. Heat frying pan with a little olive oil and pour ¼ cup batter onto the pan, cooking until middle is set up and edges begin to dry, then flip. Top with sugar-free syrup. Yields up to 10 servings.

Cook’s note: This is a diabetic-friendly recipe.

Mary Avant

BBQ Pork-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

The sweet potato is probably the perfect food, in my humble opinion. Where else can you get all that sweet deliciousness in a side dish? I am here to tell you, though, it is meant to be the star of the show. With this simple method, we show you how to take your sweet potatoes from the supporting cast to the main character of your supper. This is also a really tasty way to use up any leftover barbecue. If you want to make it healthier, head over to thebutteredhome.com for our recipe for a sugar-free barbecue rub, an easy way to make sweet potatoes in the Instant Pot and a delicious and healthy pulled pork recipe using pork tenderloin.

Ingredients

  • 4 medium cooked sweet potatoes
  • 4 cups cooked pulled pork
  • 1 cup sugar-free barbecue sauce
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons pepper
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
  • Chopped green onions.

Instructions

Cut potatoes open and add a bit of butter, salt and pepper. Top with equal portions of pulled pork, cheese, sour cream, onions and barbecue sauce.

Brooke Burks, The Buttered Home. This story originally appeared in Alabama Living magazine.

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