Sweet potatoes aren’t just for Thanksgiving anymore

by | Jun 30, 2011

With the Fourth of July holiday right around the corner and plenty of cookout plans in the works, the pressure is on to produce the best dish for your neighbors and friends to enjoy.  Sweet potatoes can provide the perfect answer. Though typically associated with winter holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, sweet potatoes are surprisingly versatile. Check out the recipe below for grilled sweet potatoes with honey mustard:


Grilled Sweet Potatoes With Honey Mustard

2 pounds           Sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices

1/3 cup              Dijon or honey mustard

2 tablespoons    Olive oil

1 tablespoon      Minced fresh rosemary leaves or 1 teaspoon dried

Place sweet potatoes and 1 cup water into large microwave-safe dish; cover.  Microwave on high 6 minutes or until sweet potatoes are crisp-tender, turning once. (If necessary, cook sweet potatoes in two batches.)  Drain well.

Combine mustard, olive oil and rosemary.  Grill sweet potato slices on oiled rack over medium-high for 5 minutes or until fork-tender, turning and basting often with mustard mixture.


What’s more, if you pick up some sweet potatoes at your local market or store, chances are pretty good that they are from North Carolina. In 2009, the Tarheel state was the leading producer of sweet potatoes, accounting for nearly 50 percent of total harvests nationwide.  In fact, a recent CNN story called North Carolina the “sweet potato capital of the world.” Just less than 400 N.C. farmers produce the crop but their impact can be seen across the state and beyond with the more than $170 million that they contribute to the N.C. economy each year.

“Our farmers are truly feeding the world,” said Sue Johnson-Langdon, executive director of the N.C. Sweet Potato Commission. “We have chosen to grow a vegetable that not only boosts our economy, but is healthy and nutritious as well.”

Sweet potatoes are a surprisingly versatile food. Photo courtesy of the N.C. Sweet Potato Commission.

Speaking of the health benefits, sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamins A, C and E. The vegetable is unique in that it is the only food that contains both vitamin E and is not high in fat or calories. The potatoes also do not spike a person’s blood sugar, which is especially beneficial for people on low carbohydrate diets or who have diabetes.

“Sweet potatoes are truly a super food,” said Johnson-Langdon. “They are a powerhouse package of nutrients.”

Sweet potatoes are primarily a tropical crop, but they work so well in North Carolina because they thrive in the sandy soil that can be found throughout much of the eastern part of the state. Because of the nutrients they provide the soil with, they also fit well into a crop sequence with tobacco.