Sa-weet! The Sweet Potato Trend

Sweet potatoes are breaking out from their marshmallow prison. Popping up in gourmet dishes at restaurants across the country, those delectable orange spuds are no longer confined to the casserole dish once a year at Thanksgiving dinner.

Today, sweet potatoes can be found starring in a variety of trendy eats from sweet potato hash to sweet potato soufflé to sweet potato stir-fry. And did someone say sweet potato waffles? We’ve essentially gone sweet potato-crazy.

Demand for sweet potatoes has steadily been on the rise in recent years. The U.S. purchased nearly 12 million pounds of sweet potatoes in 2010 compared with 7 million pounds in 2008, according to the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission, a nonprofit made up of almost 400 sweet potato growers.

So, what brought about this sweet potato phenomenon? Two words. The fry.

Order Up!

When you start sweet talkin’ about the sweet potato, you’re likely enjoying a batch of scrumptious sweet potato fries. These tasty golden orange munchies have gone mainstream at restaurants around the country—and brought attention to the vegetable’s versatility.

“The fries have been so successful that chefs have really run with the sweet potatoes and started experimenting to add something different to their menus,” said Cristy Alvarado, spokesperson for the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission. Alvarado said today’s trendy ingredients to pair with sweet potatoes include curry, chipotle, poblanos, kale and coconut milk.

Sweet potatoes aren’t just cropping up in new forms at restaurants. The good ol’ grocery store also boasts sweet potatoes in stylish new looks. From sweet potato chips to sweet potato soup to sweet potato pasta, you can find more store-bought sweet potato products than ever before.

And why not all this sweet potato success? Rich in a variety of nutrients including fiber, Vitamins A, B6 and C, copper, potassium and iron, sweet potatoes are one tasty super food. They’re also high in beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant that works to eliminate free radicals in the body.

How are you eating your swanky sweet potatoes these days?

image: little blue hen

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