Sweet on Yams

Photo of yamsOne of my favorite things about any holiday meal is the ever present yam dish. When I was a kid growing up my mom would serve them at Thanksgiving baked in a sweet syrup and again at Christmas time mashed with cinnamon and pecans mixed in. I was never really sure if the holiday yam dish was a side item or dessert, so I always enjoyed two servings or more if there were any left over. I am happy to see that this wonderful potato is more then just a holiday treat these days. You see them being served in restaurants, blended in smoothies and juiced at juice bars. The yam is finally being recognized as the super-food that it is.

About the Yam

Photo of Yam festivalYams are starchy staples in the form of large tubers produced by annual and perennial vines grown in Africa, the Americas, the Caribbean, South Pacific and Asia.(1) Yams are a primary agricultural and culturally important commodity in West Africa, where over 95 percent of the world’s yam crops are harvested.(2) The yam is such an important part of the African culture that the harvest is celebrated with Yam festivals in Ghana (Homowo) and Nigeria (Iriji). (3) It is estimated that worldwide over 18 million tons of yams are boiled, roasted, baked or fried annually.(4)

What’s in it?

Yams are a true super food. Yams are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B-6 and the minerals potassium and manganese.(5) One study suggests that that yams might reduce cholesterol levels, which can reduce your risk of heart disease.(6) The antioxidants and vitamin B6 in yams can also help reduce premenstrual symptoms, according to Michael T. Murray, author of “The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods.”

Yam mash

I have to admit I was tempted to post my mom’s candied yam recipe here but you would have went into diabetic shock given the amounts of sugar and Karo syrup she uses to make it so yummy sweet. Instead I will post one of my favorite and simple to make healthy recipes to help you have a guilt free holiday option.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium yams, peeled and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons your favorite nut milk (almond, soy, coconut, etc)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon Earth Balance or other non-dairy buttery spread

Preparation

  1. In medium pot, bring approximately 6 cups of water to a boil. Add the cubed yams.
  2. Boil for approximately 8 minutes, or until yams are soft when you poke them with a fork.
  3. Drain water.
  4. Add nut milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, Earth Balance and mash to the desired consistency. I like my yam mash without chunks by you might like to leave some chunks. Anyway you mash them they will taste great.

Makes about 6 servings

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