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You can eat sweet potato leaves!

Leaves

Yes, you can eat sweet potato leaves!

by Theresa Heiland

Guest blog by The Minnesota Project intern Sara Denzer, Dietetic Technician for Fruits of the City and Garden Gleaning Project.

Many Americans have used sweet potatoes in recipes before, but did you know that the leaves are edible as well? Sweet potato leaves, like many other greens are low in calories, rich in vitamins A, C, and B2 (riboflavin) minerals like iron, fiber and phytochemicals. They are also easily prepared.

Although uncommon in typical North American cuisine, sweet potato leaves have been used in Asian, African, Central and South American and Pacific Island recipes for years. Sweet potatoes are thought to first be domesticated in Central America and have been used in South America around 8000 BC.

Some cooking ideas for sweet potato leaves:

In Asian cultures the leaves are stir fried with garlic and soy sauce and served over rice, or mixed into soups. In the Philippines, leaves are eaten fresh in salads. They can also be a good substitute for spinach in dishes. Sweet potato leaves are best when cooked quickly, like in stir frying or steaming, so to not lose essential nutrients. Boiling the greens also works, but you may lose extra vitamins in the water. This is not a problem when making soup. Try this Sweet Potato Leaf Quinoa Soup recipe. For a more traditional dish, try this Kamote Tops (sweet potato leaves) Salad recipe.

As with all fresh produce, make sure to thoroughly rinse leaves under running water and pat dry with a towel to remove dirt and possible contaminants. Leaves are best consumed soon after purchase, as they are prone to wilt. Store them in the bottom drawer in your fridge in a sealed bag. Watch for sweet potato leaves at the farmers’ market.

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Green Areas in Sweet Potatoes Are Safe to Eat!

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Question: Recently, perfectly good-looking sweet potatoes when baked and opened seemed to have green areas and in one instance an entirely light green color. Is this the same toxic substance as in regular potatoes?

Answer: No, according to Bob Sherman, University of California Farm Adviser for Merced County. The green color is oxidation and should not affect either the quality or flavor of the sweet potatoes. . .

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White Potatoes Turning Green!

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Whether store-bought or homegrown, potatoes will turn green when they are exposed to light. Most folks know that they shouldn’t eat potatoes that have turned green, or at least cut away the affected portion. But it's not actually the green color that is the problem.

The green color comes from the pigment chlorophyll, produced as a response to light. The potato tuber that we eat is actually a modified stem structure that grows underground. The "eyes" of the potato tuber are buds, which will sprout into shoots.

Chlorophyll itself is not toxic; however, another response of the potato tuber to light exposure is increased production of a colorless alkaloid called solanine. The amount of solanine increases with the length of exposure and the intensity of light.

Consuming a large quantity of solanine can cause illness, or even death in extreme cases. However, most people are not likely to eat enough of the affected tissue to cause illness, because of solanine's bitter taste. . .

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