On Your Health

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Why Are Sweet Potatoes a Holiday Superfood?

Holiday feasts are one of the culinary highlights for many Oklahomans each year. You’ll find favorite side dishes donning the table alongside the turkey, and they often include dressing, green bean casserole and sweet potatoes.

What is it about sweet potatoes that make people go weak in the knees? Are they good for you? Where do the sweet potatoes you find in the grocery store come from? It’s time to talk about this holiday superfood.

Oklahoma Sweet Potatoes

Your family’s sweet potato casserole might have started as sprouts, called "slips," at the Acadian Family Farm. Rod and Nanette Ardoin grow, pack and ship sweet potatoes from their 80-acre farm near Fort Cobb Lake. They tend and grow multiple varieties, including the traditional orange, white and a Japanese purple variety called Murasaki. 

farmers with a sweet potato harvest

“Many people are surprised to know that sweet potatoes are not in the same family as spud-type potatoes, nor are they propagated the same,” Nanette said. “Sweet potatoes are first planted whole where they will grow vines or slips. These slips are then cut and planted in the ground where they will then grow sweet potatoes. We start at the beginning February with the planting process, get them in the ground by May, and just finish harvesting the last week of October.”

The entire 80 acres at Acadian Family Farm is Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry-certified organic. In addition, their farm uses Good Agricultural Practices certified with the USDA, meaning they do everything they can to minimize the risks of microbial food safety hazards.

“Because of the choices we make for our farm, we have to hire extra people to come in and hoe the weeds out of the sweet potatoes during the summer,” Nanette said. “It’s an extra expense, but it is the only way to keep them growing properly using our practices. It’s worth it to us.”

The Ardoins sell their sweet potatoes year-round from their climate controlled barn at the farm and in several central Oklahoma grocery stores. Often you will find a sign saying, “grown in Oklahoma” near their sweet potatoes, and sometimes one featuring their farm name and photo. Look for Acadian Family Farm sweet potatoes at the following locations:

  • Whole Foods – Oklahoma City and Tulsa
  • Natural Grocers – Norman, Edmond and Tulsa
  • Homeland – Yukon and the location on N. May in Oklahoma City
  • Green Acres – Oklahoma City and Stillwater
  • Uptown Grocery – Oklahoma City and Edmond
  • Monthly Oklahoma Food Co-op
  • Oklahoma Farmers Market – in Weatherford during the summer season

Sweet Potatoes are Good for You

Did you know that one cup of baked sweet potato only has 180 calories? It also has 27 percent of the suggested daily fiber for the average adult. Not only are orange sweet potatoes delicious, they aren’t going to ruin your diet (at least not on their own).

Don’t stop there though, because sweet potatoes are packed full of vitamins and antioxidants. For instance, they are a good source of vitamin B6, which helps reduce homocysteine in the body, which has been linked to increased heart attacks. Vitamin C, iron, magnesium and potassium are also found in sweet potatoes and can help you look younger, keep a healthier immune system and even relax.

Orange variety sweet potatoes are full of vitamin A. In fact, you’ll find more than 100 percent of your daily recommended amount of vitamin A in one cup of baked sweet potato. The human body uses this vitamin to maintain healthy teeth, bones and skin. It also helps with your vision and can help breast-feeding mothers.

There are so many health benefits to eating sweet potatoes, it’s amazing they’re delicious. You can learn more about the health benefits of sweet potatoes online.

Eating Sweet Potatoes

Your family may have a favorite recipe for sweet potato casserole or sweet potato pie that you find yourself waiting to devour all year long. However, if you’ve never been into sweet potatoes or you’re looking for something new, the internet is full of recipes worth discovering.

Two bloggers from Oklahoma shared recipes including sweet potatoes which can bring new life and flavor to your holiday table.

Annie from An Unrefined Vegan shared her recipe for Maple and Thyme Potato-Beet-Sweet Potato Stacks. The recipe serves eight and pulls the sweet and savory together in one cylindrical pile of deliciousness.

Maple and Thyme Potato-Beet-Sweet Potato Stacks

Another Oklahoma blogger, Annie Tucker, owns Take a Bite and shared a recipe for Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Figs. Adding figs to your holiday recipes can be a fun way to punch up the flavor and add a surprise for your family’s taste buds.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Figs

Inspired by the Sweet Potato?

The holidays are just around the corner, and surely, you’ve got plans to add sweet potatoes to the menu. Have these humble vegetables inspired you to think about a healthier holiday table?

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