National Cook a Sweet Potato Day is celebrated every year on February 22. This vegetable is loved and eaten by millions every day in the United States alone. Many times people confuse sweet potatoes with yams; however, that’s not the case. Cultivars of the sweet potato bear tubers with flesh and skin of many colors.
History of National Cook a Sweet Potato Day
Sweet Potatoes are widely consumed by billions across the globe and mainly in America. This sweet root vegetable is very versatile and is used in salads and soups and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, snack, or dinner. The most important part of the vegetable is the starchy tuberous roots. Nevertheless, the leaves and shoots are also edible. Eating cooked tubers can increase their nutritional value and digestibility; however, many American colonists in the Southeast consumed raw sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes are a distant relative of the common potato as they both belong in the order Solanales. It is believed that before Western exploration, sweet potatoes were grown in Polynesia. Later, it is said they have spread to Central or South America typically through the spread of vine cuttings rather than seeds. In fact, it is believed that Central America domesticated sweet potatoes around 5,000 years ago. According to the Peruvian sweet potato remnants found in South America, it has been observed that they date back to 8000 B.C.
In 1594, sweet potatoes were introduced in the Fujian province of China from Luzon. Governor Chin Hsüeh-Tseng (Jin Xuezeng) further encouraged growing sweet potatoes. In the year 2019, the global production of sweet potatoes was measured at 92 million tonnes. China led this production with 56% of the world’s total.
Sweet potatoes also arrived in Europe and it is recorded in “Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book,” compiled in England in 1604.
National Cook a Sweet Potato Day timeline
Sweet Potatoes are introduced in Europe and declared a delicacy.
Sweet potatoes are introduced in the Philippines.
Sweet potatoes are introduced in Korea.
The General Assembly officially designates sweet potatoes as the state vegetable.
National Cook a Sweet Potato Day FAQs
Is sweet potato good for your diet?
Sweet potatoes are rich in nutrients that can help you lead a healthier lifestyle. Additionally, they are a low-glycemic food and do not cause an instant spike in blood sugar levels.
When should you not eat sweet potatoes?
When you notice your sweet potatoes turning soft or mushy, you should avoid eating them. Moreover, check out for a color change as once they turn a deep shade of brown to black, they have gone bad. Keep a lookout for mold and odor too, and if you notice any bad signs, it is best to discard them.
What is the healthiest way to cook a sweet potato?
The best way to cook sweet potatoes is by boiling them as they retain more beta carotene, and it makes them more absorbable by the body than other cooking methods such as frying and baking.
National Cook a Sweet Potato Day Activities
Plant a sweet potato vine
Planting sweet potato vines is quite easy, especially if you have a garden. Plant it in late spring to early summer. Space them 10 to 36 inches apart depending on the variety. If you’re using a pot, use high-quality, all-purpose potting soil and ensure that the containers have drainage holes in the bottom.
Read “Little Sweet Potato”
Read “Little Sweet Potato” to your child as a bedtime story. The book explores Little Sweet Potato’s quest to find a home that's just right for him.
Make sweet potato fries
Craving those delicious potato french fries? Mix it up and make sweet potato fries instead. Put on a movie or show and snack away on your tasty and healthy meal.
5 Sweet Facts About Sweet Potatoes
Sweet Potato vs. Yams
Contrary to popular beliefs, sweet potatoes and yams aren’t the same — the former is a sweet root vegetable and the latter is a starchy tuber.
Sweet potatoes like long and hot growing seasons as compared to regular potatoes.
Variety of colors
Sweet potatoes come in different colors such as orange, white, and purple.
Sweet potatoes are very popular in many parts of the world and a staple in Uganda and Rwanda.
Sweet potato is the state vegetable of North Carolina in the United States.
Why We Love National Cook a Sweet Potato Day
They’re super healthy
Sweet potatoes are super healthy. They’re high in fiber and low in fat and calories. They also contain more vitamin A and C along with a load of minerals and vitamins. They are also rich in beta carotene, an antioxidant that helps to protect the body against free radicals.
Used for multiple purposes
Sweet potatoes aren’t just used for eating but also for other purposes. The juice of the red sweet potato is often mixed with lime juice to make a dye for cloth in South America. In fact, by varying the proportions of the juice, multiple shades from pink to black can be obtained.
Beneficial for fish
Subject to good lighting conditions and a steady supply of nutrients, sweet potato vine cuttings will rapidly form roots in water and grow in it. Owing to this, they can be used for in-home aquariums and trailing out of the water with their roots submerged. The growth is fueled by toxic ammonia and nitrates, a waste product of aquatic life, which it removes from the water. Thus, this can improve the living conditions for fish.
National Cook a Sweet Potato Day dates