Yams – The Sweet Potato’s Non-Related Doppelganger


Well here we are approaching the end of ABC to XYZ in Foods. The good news is in January 2015 we are going to start all over at the beginning of the alphabet with new foods and information!  So pay attention to Yams, Xanthan Gum, and Zucchini.

Wait, what is going to happen next week? More good news: through the next eight weeks, I will be sharing with you stories, food and customs of the Holiday Season. Hopefully you will learn of customs, foods and bits of information about how others celebrate their holidays. The stories may rekindle memories of Christmases gone by with the hope for a better next year.

XANTHAN GUM (food product) >> Is a microorganism that is grown under laboratory conditions. It is used to replace gluten in cooking. Xanthan Gum helps achieve a good texture when using with gluten free flour. It is especially good in thickening up batters. It is an excellent product for use with people who have Celiac Disease, which is an allergy to wheat or gluten. At first it appears to be a little pricey, but you get a lot for your money.

YAMS >> Are often confused with sweet potatoes. They are two different types of vegetables. Sweet potatoes are quite popular in our southern states and have a texture similar to a baking potato. Their skin colors can vary from white to brownish-black color.

Actually, the yam is not related at all to the sweet potato, but they are often used as substitutes for each other. A true yam is a tuber from a tropical vine. I find the best visual identification is that sweet potatoes taper to a point at each end and are not large in size. On the other hand, yams can grow to over 7 feet long and weigh up to 150 pounds. Sweet potatoes need to be handled with care and have a short shelf life, whereas a yam can be refrigerated for up to six months.

Yam Salad

A Year-Round Favorite

• 4 medium yams (about 1 ½ lbs.)

• 1/4 cup peanut or vegetable oil

• 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

• ½ tsp. salt

• ¼ tsp. fresh ground pepper

• 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped

• 1 small onion, chopped

• ¼ cup chopped parsley

Place yams in boiling water. Bring back up to boil, reduce heat. Cover and cook until tender, 30 to 35 minutes. Drain.

Cool potatoes, remove the skins (they will slip right off). Cube yams; place in glass or plastic bowl. Mix together oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pour over yams. Blend in green peppers, onion and parsley. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.

ZUCCHINI >> Is considered a small summer squash. It has a similar shape to the cucumber. Zucchini is usually served cooked and cucumbers are not. A real treat is to stuff zucchini blossoms and fry like a tempura or pan fry. Zucchini can grow as long as 3 or 4 feet, but those that large are fibrous and not appetizing to eat. There is an overwhelming production of zucchini in both home and commercial gardens. All that I know is that zucchini can be found on every menu in every restaurant while in season. Zucchini has no cholesterol; it is high in protein and carbohydrates. It is low in calories, fat, fiber and sodium. You can make everything from an appetizer to dessert with zucchini. There are a million-trillion ways to prepare zucchini, so make your choice and “mangia.”

bette banjack author of yamsSee you next week to start our Holiday fun!

Let me hear from you – banjack303@verizon.net. Check out Downtown Kitchens at HealthTipsAndAdvice.com or search YouTube for Look Who’s Cooking. Good Food for a Good Life!

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Neighborhood Kitchens - yams

About the Author:

E. M. (Bette) Banjack is a noted columnist, author, media host, and cook who writes stories of local families, and anecdotes of growing up and living in Phoenixville. Bette wrote a weekly column for ten years in The Phoenix, the local paper serving the Phoenixville area.

Her fourth and latest book, Neighborhood Kitchens – A Collection of Stories & Recipes, has just been released.

The articles and recipes posted on Health Tips and Advice, another Life Balance Network Site, were as a result of interviews of family and friends, and first appeared in her weekly column between 2003 and 2006.

Bette’s newest column series, Recipes ABC-XYZ, is appearing in The Phoenix, and will also be posted on FoodSource.

Bette hosted several TV shows on local broadcast cable TV on cooking with appearances of many hometown guests. Episodes of Bette’s cooking show “Look Who’s Cooking” can be viewed on another Life Balance Network site, FoodsSource, or on YouTube.

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