Here are some healthier alternatives, and they actually taste better.
A little brown sugar is not bad, but too much added sugar hides the flavor of sweet potatoes. For all of these recipes, use fresh sweet potatoes. The ones in the can are already too sugary and, to my taste, cooked too long.
Baked sweet potatoes
If you’re roasting meat at a lower temperature, you can put the sweet potatoes with the meat. They’ll take longer, but taste the same. If you’re not baking them with meat, use a toaster oven instead of heating up your regular oven.
If you’re in a hurry, five minutes or so in the microwave is enough to cook one sweet potato. Adding more potatoes requires more time.
To serve the baked sweet potatoes, cut them in half lengthwise, as you would a regular baked potato. I usually add some butter and sprinkle cinnamon on them. Try different spices, like ground cloves or cayenne pepper. Apple sauce or crushed pineapple also make good toppings. I haven’t tried sour cream, but I can’t think of any reason not to.
Try stuffed baked sweet potatoes some time. For every four medium baked sweet potatoes, slice off a little of one side and scoop out some of the pulp, leaving the peeling and some pulp as a shell.
Put the pulp in a mixing bowl and blend in 2 tablespoons of butter, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons of grated orange peel and two beaten egg whites. Stuff this mixture back into the shells, sprinkle the tops with shredded or grated Parmesan cheese, and return the potatoes to the oven for another 10 or 15 minutes.
Roasted (oven-browned) sweet potatoes
Peel and slice sweet potatoes about two inches thick. Coat them with butter–or a mixture of melted butter, orange juice, cinnamon and/or other spices, and maybe a little sugar or brown sugar. Place the slices in a single layer on a lightly greased baking pan and roast for 30 minutes at 400 F.
If you’re cooking a turkey or other roast, you can arrange the slices around it an hour and a half before it’s done. Baste them occasionally with the pan drippings.
Boiled or mashed sweet potatoes
It is not necessary to completely cover any kind of potato with water. Put a lid on on the pot, and when the water starts to boil, reduce the heat. The steam in the pot will cook the potatoes.
When they’re soft, drain them, and add some butter to the pot to coat them. Add spices or not—whatever you feel like.
Mashed sweet potatoes offer a number of variations. Boil as above and then mash with a little milk and butter. They are good that way, but consider adding some of the following other combinations of ingredients:
- apple sauce, vanilla extract, cinnamon
- crushed pineapple, juice and all, and ground cloves
- chunks of leftover chicken or turkey
Fried sweet potatoes
Although this is, after all, an article about healthy recipes, I might as well mention that you can fry sweet potatoes in any of the same ways you can fry regular potatoes.
Cut them into strips like French fries or into thin slices like home fries.
Or, for something that tastes fried but with less fat, coat them in whatever oil you’d use for frying (olive oil smokes at too low a temperature) and follow the instructions for roasting. Since the pieces of sweet potato will be much thinner, they will be finished much sooner.
This final picture I found shows a different way to fry sweet potatoes, which I haven’t tried yet, but it sure looks good. The photographer’s caption explains how they were cooked.
Raw, cut sweet potato. Public domain from Wikimedia Commons.
Baked sweet potato. Some rights reserved by Kim.
Mashed sweet potatoes. Source unknown
Sweet potatoes and braised chicken. Some rights reserved by Rudi Riet.