Thanksgiving Staples: A History of Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potato Pie

Mashed potato and sweet potato recipes are Thanksgiving staples, but what’s the history of these unmissable dishes?

It turns out that neither mashed nor sweet potatoes made an appearance at the first Thanksgiving table in 1621. In the centuries since that historic meal, though, they’ve become essential parts of Thanksgiving dinners.

The History of Thanksgiving Sweet Potatoes

Could you imagine Thanksgiving without sweet potato pie now? The first Thanksgiving most likely had plenty of pumpkin, but not a sweet potato in sight.

The first Thanksgiving took place in Massachusetts, where sweet potatoes don’t typically grow. Native Americans did eat sweet potatoes, but that was mostly in the southern part of the soon-to-be-United States and in South America. It’s much more likely that the guests at that first Thanksgiving table ate ate pumpkin pie instead of sweet potato pie.

Sweet potatoes became part of the Thanksgiving tradition more than 150 years later. The first pumpkin pie was actually developed in France in 1653, and it wasn’t in any American cookbooks until 1796. Sweet potatoes grow very well in the warm, humid south, and pumpkin pie began to showing up alongside (or instead of!) pumpkin pie on the Thanksgiving table in the years after that.

Now sweet potatoes are in more than just pies on the Thanksgiving table. From sweet potato casseroles to fresh sweet potato salads, our Thanksgiving traditions and holiday menu are still evolving.

Mashed Potatoes: A Thanksgiving History

When it comes to Thanksgiving, sweet potatoes are the star of the show, but no Thanksgiving meal is complete without a big bowl of creamy mashed potatoes.

Mashed potatoes became an American staple in the 1700s. Potatoes are a native North American food that are easy to grow, filling, healthy, and affordable. As far back as 1747, Americans were mashing up potatoes with butter, milk, salt, and cream, and dishing them up on the Thanksgiving table.

Today, Americans continue to enjoy potatoes and sweet potatoes with their families on Thanksgiving each and every year. And we’re quite proud of that! Happy Thanksgiving!

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by Brown Eyed Baker on Flickr

5 Healthy and Refreshing Cold Summer Soups

Vichyssoise Meal

These simple summer soups are as easy to make as they are delicious and healthy.

If you’ve never had a good, cold soup, the idea of slurping up chilled spoonfuls of broth might not sound too appealing, but cold soups can be a delicious addition to any light summer meal. During the steamy summer months when even the thought of eating anything hot can be just too much, a simple cold soup can even be a meal on its own with some crusty bread or a salad on the side.

It’s also still National Fruits and Vegetables Month, and cold soups are a delicious way to eat up the summer bounty of seasonal fruits and veggies.

You might wonder what potatoes have to do with cold summer soups. Potatoes actually make a creamy soup base that’s just as tasty chilled as it is hot. We’ve rounded up some crowd-pleassing summer soup recipes for you right here!

Watermelon Gazpacho Soup

1. Watermelon Gazpacho

This is a fruitier spin on the traditonal Spanish soup. It uses all fruits that are in season right now: tomatoes, watermelon, and cucumber. You can make this dish a day in advance, so if you’re planning a cookout or summer garden party it’s a great time-saver.

Image Source: Food and Wine
 
Vichyssoise Soup

2. Classic Vichyssoise

Vichyssoise might sound pretty hoity toity, but this French soup couldn’t be simpler. It’s simply a pureed soup made with lots of good stuff: potatoes, leeks, and (of course!) heavy cream. It is French, after all!

Image Source: Fine Cooking
 
Green Pea Vichyssoise Soup

3. Green Pea Vischyssoise

Seasonal green peas are a delicious addition to the French classic. The peas add a touch of sweetness and turn your soup a gorgeous green. Drizzle on some olive oil, and you are in business!

Image Source: epicurious
 
Chilled Carrot Soup

4. Chilled Carrot Soup

This bright orange soup is rich, creamy, and satisfying, and the toasted breadcrumbs give it just the right amount of crunch. Make it a meal with some Irish potato cakes with sour cream sauce on the side.

Image Source: Martha Stewart
 
Coconut Curry Soup

5. Curried Sweet Potato Soup

You can serve this hearty, spicy soup hot or cold. If you’re planning to chill it, we suggest following the tip at the bottom of the recipe to thin it out, since it will thicken as it chills.

Image Source: foodfanatic
 
Cold soup not your cup of tea? We’ve got plenty of heart-warming hot soup recipes in our archives. Check ‘em out!

 
Creative Commons Vischyssoise photo via yoppy on Flickr
 

I Yam What I Yam, Which Is Not A Sweet Potato

Yam vs Sweet Potato

There’s no, “You say poh-taay-toe and I say poh-taaah-toe,” about the yam versus sweet potato relationship. Because yams and sweet potatoes aren’t two different terms for the same thing, they’re two different vegetables.

Although they look and taste maybe somewhat kinda similar, the fact is, they’re not even closely related.

The Truth You’ve Been Waiting For

Yes, it’s true that yams and sweet potatoes are two totally different things. BUT, it’s also true that in the U.S., most grocery stores sell the dark orange variety of sweet potatoes as “yams.” Or, even more confusing, “sweet potato yams.” They do this not to fool you, but to help distinguish the darker orange variety of sweet potato from those lighter in color.

Read below to tell the difference between yams and sweet potatoes the next time you’re shopping in your local grocery store.

The Yam

A member of the Dioscoreae family, there are over 200 varieties of yams. Depending on the variety, the flesh may be some shade of white, ivory, yellow or purple. The skin is thick, rough and scaley and may be white, pink or brownish-black in color.

Yams taste pretty earthy, with minimal or no sweetness. The texture is starchy and slippery when raw. Cooked, they can be creamy or firm, depending upon the variety.

The Sweet Potato

A member of the Convolvulaceae family, we recently read there are more than six thousand varieties of sweet potatoes, when you include wild, farmer-grown and breeding lines. Depending on the variety, the flesh can be almost any shade of white, orange, yellow-orange, purple or red. The skin is usually thinner than a real “yam,” and may be some shade of creamy white, yellow-orange, tan, reddish-purple or red.

Depending on the color of the flesh, sweet potatoes range from mild to rich, the darker the flesh, the more intense the flavor. The darker varieties also have a denser, creamier texture when cooked.

Below are the nutritional values for 1 cup of raw, unprepared sweet potatoes and yams.

  Yam Sweet Potato
Calories 117 114
Total Fat 0 0
Cholesterol 0 0
Sodium 13mg 73mg
Total Carbohydrate 42g 27g
Dietary Fiber 6g 4g
Sugars 1g 6g
Protein 2g 2g
Summary Yams are very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. They are also a good source of fiber, potassium and manganese and a very good source of Vitamin C. Sweet potatoes are very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. They are also a good source of fiber, vitamin B6, potassium and manganese and a very good source of Vitamin A.

If you’re shopping for sweet potatoes, the easiest way to find them is to look for Sweet PotatOHs. You’ll find them in the potato section in produce, and with a green and purple label, you can’t miss them!

Go for Quick & Easy Chicken and Potato Recipes

Grilled Potato Kabobs

Chicken is an obvious choice for a busy-but-healthy weeknight.

It cooks quickly, it’s a healthier option than some other proteins because it’s low in fat, and, best of all, it’s endlessly versatile. In fact, the mild flavor makes it easy to pair with all kinds of herbs and spices, dips and dressings, marinades and more. So even if you eat chicken several times a week, you never have to make it the same way twice.

Well, PotatOHs are like that, too, you know.

They cook in under seven minutes, so they’re super fast.

Are they a healthier choice than some other “side” options? Absolutely. PotatOHs are a fresh vegetable full of vitamins and nutrients, unlike dry sides processed food. So, check there, too!

And, last but not least, PotatOHs are the perfect partner for all kinds of tastes. We’ve tried them with everything from Adobo (try topping your taters with salsa) to Zahtar (a North African spice blend — try it sprinkled over sweet PotatOHs) with great results.

Making a little chicken and PotatOH magic is simple. There’s no limit to what you could do, but here are three recipes to get you started.

 

Grilled Potato Kabobs Thumbnail

Potato Kabobs with Lemon Herb Drizzle

This is a good basic recipe for a quick grilled meal. Precook the PotatOHs in the microwave, grab some chicken or chicken sausage, add whatever herbs you have on hand, and finish them up on the grill for a delicious flame-cooked taste. When you’re all done, you have a feast perfect for any warm summer night.

 
 
 

Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins

A healthy take on bar food, this dish gives a nod to buffalo chicken wings without the extra fat and calories. Start with a foundation of nutritious potatoes and replace fried wings with shredded chicken breast. Top them off with fresh tomatoes and onions, and serve with a side of chopped celery.

 
 
 

PotatOH Apple Sausage Thumb

Sweet Potatoes Topped with Chicken Apple Sausage and Apples

This is a great recipe that’s ready in under 15 minutes. Wow! Combine Express Bake Sweet PotatOHs with chicken apple sausage, a granny smith apple, butter, and just a bit of salt and pepper. The result is a delicious and indulgent sweet potato dish you’ll never forget.

 
 

Sweet PotatOHs: A Quick and Healthy Dinner

Stuffed Sweet PotatOH

When we say “sweet potato,” if you think “thanksgiving” and “marshmallows” you’re not alone. But if you’re only eating them once a year, you’re really missing out! Naturally fat- and cholesterol-free, one large sweet potato boasts a host of benefits:

  • 4g protein
  • 6g fiber
  • A mega-dose of vitamin A
  • More than half your daily vitamin C
  • Plenty of potassium and vitamin B
  • Oodles of beta-carotene, an antioxidant
  • Only 180 calories

Ready in under 7 minutes, making an Express Bake Sweet PotatOH is one of the world’s fastest ways to enjoy this very nutritious vegetable, so go for it! You can buy some the next time you’re shopping for groceries, or make an order on our website today and have them shipped right to your door.

 

Who Loves Sweet PotatOHs? Daria Loves Sweet PotatOHs!

The only thing we love more than sweet potatoes is other people who love Sweet PotatOHs, too. Maybe that’s an exaggeration. But maybe not, in the case of Daria McDermott.

Daria, who lives in New York and works in the Big Apple, has a great blog devoted to working out and eating healthy. So it’s no surprise that (1) she’s really busy and (2) she knows her nutrition, too. She’s kind of an expert in fast, healthy eating. So we were super excited to see her post two dinner ideas that use Sweet PotatOHs, and we’re sharing them with you.

Daria’s Sweet PotatOH Recipes

Sweet Potato with Salmon
Seared Salmon and Sweet PotatOH Recipe

This dish is simple and fast, and with the colors of the Sweet PotatOH and salmon on the plate are amazing. And we love the fact that Daria let the natural flavors of the food shine through. This is a perfect weeknight dinner that fills you up, doesn’t require many ingredients, and leaves you feeling healthy and satisfied.

 

Sweet PotatOH with Turkey Cutlets
Turkey and Sweet PotatOH in Coconut Milk Recipe

Another simple, fast option with just the right amount of seasonings. We thought the almonds were a very nice touch! This recipe is perfect on its own, or you could do a tiny bit of tinkering: try adding Thai or Indian flavors to the coconut milk (lemon grass, curry paste, lime and basil) or even cinnamon and nutmeg.

 
If you have a great recipe for PotatOHs you’d like to share, let us know!

Top 3 Reasons Why You Should Buy Potatoes Online

Why buy potatoes online? We’ll tell you why! Here are 3 great reasons you should buy PotatOHs online and forget those packs of frozen potatoes at the store.
 

PotatOHs Are High Quality Potatoes

Only the freshest and highest-quality potatoes from our farms become Express Bake PotatOHs — and we really mean it! Our russet and sweet PotatOHs are graded USDA No. 1, given only to the most good-lookin’ and healthy potatoes around. And even though Fingerlings aren’t graded, just take one look at our russets and sweets, and you’ll see we only pick the best of the bite-sized.
 

PotatOHs are The Most Convenient Way To Make Potatoes

With PotatOH, you won’t have to turn the oven on to bake a potato ever again. Double-washed and ready to microwave, russets and sweets are fully cooked in 7 minutes, and fingerling Jubileez in just 5! Best of all, our special, USDA-approved BPA-free SavorSeal™  wrap keeps flavor and moisture, so your PotatOH keeps its natural taste and is nice and soft after cooking in the microwave. Add your favorite toppings and you have a quick and easy meal, or use it as a shortcut for your favorite breakfast, lunch or dinner potato recipe.
 

PotatOHs Save You Time With Easy Checkout and Fast Shipping

When you buy PotatOHs online, you get to skip the trip to the grocery store, and all the headaches that come with crowded aisles and long lines at the supermarket. Our easy checkout only takes a few clicks and is even faster when you pay with PayPal (Don’t use PayPal? No problem! Simply pay as a guest with your credit card). Also, with our express shipping, you can expect PotatOHs at your doorstep in 2 days! That leaves plenty of time for you to do more of your favorite things.
 
Hungry yet? Shop now for PotatOHs right here on our site.

Sweet Potatoes: Exercise Superfood

Whether you’re a weekend warrior, athlete or bodybuilder, you need to eat foods that nourish you, are sources of lasting energy, and help with muscle recovery long after your workout is over. Sweet potatoes are a superfood that can do just that, and one that no exercise diet is complete without.

Below are three ways that sweet potatoes help your body stay in top shape so you can accomplish your fitness goals.
 

Energy

Muscles require carbohydrates for energy, and sweet potatoes are a great source, with a medium-sized one providing 24g.

In addition, sweet potatoes provide a healthy dose of complex carbohydrates, which take longer to be digested and help supply the body with energy over a longer period of time. Unlike simple carbohydrates — which break down fast into glucose for quick energy, and turn into fat stores that can cause weight gain when unused — complex carbohydrates break down into glycogen and are stored in the liver or muscles to be used as fuel for exercise.

They are also a good source of dietary fiber, which has a gradual, steadying effect on blood sugar, making sweet potatoes a sustained source of energy.
 

Muscle and Bone Function

With over 300mg in a medium-sized one, sweet potatoes are a good source of potassium, which is an electrolyte that plays a key part in skeletal and smooth muscle contraction, and makes it crucial for proper digestive and muscle function.
 

Muscle Recovery

Sweet potatoes are highly packed with calcium, and iron, and are high in beta carotene, which, together with other essential antioxidants like vitamins A, C and E, helps with protect cells and muscles recover and regenerate.

In fact, sweet potatoes contain more vitamin A than carrots, and are the best natural source for beta carotene, as they provide more than any other fruit or vegetable.

 

References

Carbohydrates Burned During Exercises

Potassium

Sweet Potato Benefits for Bodybuilders

Top Athlete Nutrition Foods for Greater Performance and Energy Maximization

What Foods Are Good for Energy or Vitamins?

Sweet Potatoes: An Essential Part of Detox Plans

Were there times last year that you ate heavy and you wish you hadn’t? Have you been turning to comfort foods to cope with cold and long winter days, and now you’re not feeling so great? You may need to cleanse your system to flush out all of the bad stuff and get your body back to a good place through detoxification, and sweet potatoes can help.
 

What is Detox?

Detox is a process to eliminate toxins in the body, cleanse organs and replenish your system with healthy nutrients. This is accomplished by eating pure and natural foods that help clean the kidneys, intestines, lymph, liver and skin, and avoiding any foods that can set back or stop the process.
 

Choosing a Detox Plan

There are many ways to detox your body by adjusting your diet, and each plan varies in duration and the amount of food to consume. No matter how you detox, always begin by eliminating incoming toxins. Avoid alcohol, coffee, cigarettes, processed foods and even stress to give your body its best chance at a successful cleanse.

For more information and finding which detox plan is right for you, check out this detox answers and solutions guide. Whichever way you choose, always consult your doctor before beginning any detox plan.
 

Sweet Potato Health Benefits

It is widely known that sweet potatoes are nutritional all-stars. Below are some of the many natural ingredients found in significant levels in sweet potatoes that offer many health benefits and make an essential part of a detox plan.

Antioxidants: boost your immune system and help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease

Beta-Carotene / Vitamin A: sweet potatoes have four times the recommended daily intake of Beta-Carotene, which the body converts to Vitamin A, and helps with immunity, bone development, vision and fighting many types of cancer.

Complex Carbohydrates: take longer to be digested, helping supply the body with energy over a longer period of time

Dietary Fiber: improves cholesterol levels, regulates blood glucose, and keeps your body full longer

Low Calorie: with only 90-140 with skin on, sweet potatoes are easy on the calories

Manganese: facilitates metabolism, helps keep bones strong and healthy, regulates blood sugar levels, and promote optimal function of the thyroid

Potassium: diets high in potassium help reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke

Vitamin C: helps with fighting infections, iron absorption, healing wounds, reducing inflammation and supporting the body’s immune system
 

Sweet Potato Detox Recipes

When putting together your detox plan, consider including these cleansing and nourishing healthy sweet potato recipes.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

This richly-colored, flavorful chili is the perfect meal for winter months. Immune-boosting garlic and onion, along with red pepper and lime, combine with black beans and sweet potatoes to make one very satisfying one-pot meal.

Healthy Baked Sweet Potato

Pair sweet potatoes with whatever vegetables you like, top it off with a tasty tahini-based sauce that uses metabolic-enhancing spices and you have a delicious and satisfying dinner that will keep things light on a simple detox diet plan.

Sweet Potato Mash with Chinese Broccoli and Ginger Dressing

A delicious vegan dish, with a good dose of antioxidants plus anti-inflammatory benefits from the ginger dressing. Particularly rich in Vitamin A, this dish will nourish the eyes and skin.

More healthy sweet potato recipes.