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I Yam What I Yam

May 21, 1997|HOLLY B. CLEGG | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Clegg is the author of "Trim & Terrific American Favorites" (Clarkson Potter, 1996)

For too long, sweet potatoes have been stuck in a holiday rut. You know how well they go with turkey and trimmings, but have you ever considered how delicious they can be as part of an everyday meal?

These potatoes are naturally sweet, and that deep orange color is a tip-off to the antioxidant beta carotene. Add to that substantial amounts of vitamin C, potassium and fiber, and you'll see that sweet potatoes deserve to be considered for inclusion in your daily meals.

What is the difference between a yam and a sweet potato?

In my state of Louisiana, we call sweet potatoes "yams" because they are very moist and sweet, owing to the tropical climate and rich soil. Of course, food nerds would tell me that I am using the term erroneously because sweet potatoes belong to the morning glory family and come in two varieties: the dark orange and the pale yellow that isn't particularly sweet.

True yams, on the other hand, are thick tubers from a tropical vine that is much revered in South and Central America, the West Indies and Africa. They contain more sugar and more moisture than our sweet potatoes and grow from average potato size to more than 7 1/2 feet in length.

Anyone who wants to see the difference can probably find yams at Latin American markets.

The next time you want to serve a baked potato with your meal, try a baked sweet potato. Simply put it in the oven at 375 degrees and bake until it's tender when pierced with a fork, about an hour.



1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 cup canned sweet potatoes, drained and mashed

3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed

1/3 cup canola oil

1/4 cup nonfat milk

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Nonstick cooking spray


Combine oats, flour and brown sugar in bowl. Add butter and vanilla and mix with fork until crumbly. Set aside.


Combine oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg in large bowl. Stir in sweet potatoes, brown sugar, oil, milk, egg and vanilla, stirring only until mixture is well moistened.

Coat muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon in batter, filling each cup 3/4 full. Sprinkle with prepared topping. Bake at 400 degrees until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes.

18 muffins. Each muffin:

145 calories; 46 mg sodium; 14 mg cholesterol; 6 grams fat; 22 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 0.19 gram fiber.


2 (8-ounce) packages light cream cheese

1 cup nonfat sour cream

1 cup cooked and mashed sweet potatoes

1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed

1 egg

2 egg whites

2 tablespoons praline liqueur (or liqueur of choice)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 (9-inch) prepared graham cracker crust

Beat cream cheese and sour cream with electric mixer in large mixing bowl until creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in sweet potatoes and brown sugar. Add egg and egg whites, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in liqueur and vanilla. Pour mixture into prepared crust.

Bake at 350 degrees until set and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, 4 to 6 hours.

8 to 10 servings. Each of 10 servings:

351 calories; 404 mg sodium; 53 mg cholesterol; 16 grams fat; 41 grams carbohydrates; 9 grams protein; 1.18 grams fiber.

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