I have been asked a lot about sweet potatoes….are they on the yes or no list? There has been much debate out there on if they are considered paleo. In my paleo lifestyle, I include them regularly. I love them! So to answer the question above…my answer is yes and I will go into why a little bit more below. I also thought with the upcoming release of my newest cookbook, Powerful Paleo Superfoods, it would be a good time to dig more into the “whys and benefits” of sweet potatoes to give you a glimpse into how the new book will read. The food includes 50 paleo foods that I consider the superheros of foods for your paleo lifestyle. Each food is broken down and discussed in depth and also includes recipes to help you incorporate them in your diet. The book launches May 1st and between now and then I will give you glimpses into the book little by little so stay tuned.
Now, here is more on sweet potatoes and why I think they are essential in an active paleo lifestyle.
Sweet Potatoes are a wonderful naturally sweet root vegetable and are some of the most nutritious vegetables around. Paleo proponents have long debated whether sweet potatoes and other starchy root vegetables are Paleo or not. At issue is their high carbohydrate content. Our modern diets are typically quite high in carbohydrates, especially refined flours and sugars, and that’s gotten us into a lot of trouble, health-wise. So many people, understandably, want to limit their carbohydrate intake to help improve conditions like diabetes and other blood sugar disorders, cardiovascular disease, and systemic inflammation.
But there is plenty of evidence that root vegetables were dietary staples for some hunter-gatherer groups, and as long as you’re active—like those hunter-gatherers were—you should be fine including sweet potatoes and other starchy vegetables as part of a Paleo lifestyle. The reason is that starch acts differently in your body than the simple sugars like fructose found in fruits and honey. Your digestive system breaks down starch into glucose, which all of your cells use for energy (and which makes sweet potatoes good fuel for high-powered workouts). Fructose, on the other hand, appears to change the way your brain responds to hunger cues, possibly leading to overeating. Sweet potatoes have the added benefit of being high in fiber (one medium sweet potato contains nearly 4 grams), which gives you a steady and sustained flow of energy instead of a sudden rush.
Carbohydrates aren’t the only thing sweet potatoes have to offer. Sweet potatoes also boast high levels of vitamin A, potassium, and vitamin B6, and smaller amounts of vitamins C and E.
- 2 small sweet potatoes (or 1 medium), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1/2 tablespoon spice mix, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
- For Spice Mix:
- 1 ½ tablespoons ground allspice
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh thyme leaves
- 1 ½ teaspoons sweet paprika
- 1/8 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tablespoon ground cloves
- 1/8 tablespoon ground nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- In small bowl add sweet potato slices, 1/4 tablespoon spice mix, and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and toss to combine. Add melted coconut oil and toss again until sweet potato slices are well coated.
- Place slices on a baking sheet evenly spaced apart. Bake for 20-25 minutes stopping half way to flip the sweet potato slices.
- Remove sweet potato slices when golden. Sprinkle the tops of the sweet potato slices with the remaining spice mix and sea salt and toss to coat.
- Cool slightly and serve.
You will have left over spice mix which can be stored in an airtight container and used for later use. It is great used on fish or chicken as a rub.
Shopping for Sweet Potatoes
Depending on the variety, the skin and flesh of this root vegetable may be almost white, cream, yellow, orange, or deep purple, although white/cream and yellow-orange flesh are the most common. There is often much confusion between sweet potatoes and yams; the moist-fleshed orange-colored root vegetable that is often called a “yam” is actually a sweet potato. Sweet potatoes can be found in your local markets year-round; however, they are in season and abundant in November and December.