“Pumpkin shortage” might be the most devastating phrase hosts of holiday parties will hear all year. But fear not, another orange vegetable is ready to step up and relieve us of all our shortage sorrow. Sweet potatoes, packed with nutrition and big on flavor, are a great substitute.
The truth is pumpkin by itself isn’t so packed full of flavor. Instead it’s the familiar fall spices – nutmeg and cinnamon – that make pumpkin-filled concoctions so deliriously delicious. Swapping the ingredient which gives the recipe its orangey goodness won’t minimize flavor, but it can certainly maximize health benefits.
“Sweet potatoes bring a lot to the table as far as nutrition. Not only do these spuds offer more fiber and protein than a pumpkin, they dominate in the Vitamin C and A departments too,” said Kelly McIver, Executive Director of the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission. Ranked as the number one sweet potato producing state in the U.S., North Carolina is the largest grower of sweet potatoes, accounting for nearly half of U.S. production.
Many consumers are surprised to learn about the ease and deliciousness of substituting fresh sweet potatoes for canned or pureed pumpkin. They’re also pleased to find an unprocessed, wholesome alternative for their favorite fall recipes. Here are three foolproof methods for transforming your sweet potatoes into the fluffy, orange puree that can be substituted for pumpkin:
- BAKE – Easy as popping that tater into a hot oven, 45 minutes later you have a steamy pocket of sweet, fluffy goodness.
- MICROWAVE – Without wasting precious time to preheat and bake, you can still achieve the sweet caramelization that an oven-baked sweet potato is known for. Not sure when your microwaved sweet potato is ready? After about 5-8 minutes, the sweet potato’s thin skin puffs to a crisp finish and inside you’ll discover the sweet, pillowy deliciousness.
- SLOW-ROAST – The crock pot is designed to cook for an extended period of time, releasing the intense flavor of the ingredients it holds. For sweet potatoes, that means an intensified rich, caramel flavor.
Regardless of the method you choose, cool, peel and remove the skin from the cooked sweet potato. Puree until smooth in a blender or food processor. Depending on the size of your sweet potato, you may need more than one to get the equivalent puree for a recipe. If you have a few tablespoons extra, try this twist on another seasonal favorite.
One of the most celebrated pumpkin-fueled obsessions of the season is the Pumpkin Spiced Latte. During this time of shortage, sweet potatoes are a wholesome substitute, bringing unmatched flavor when compared to the syrupy, artificial flavors found in many coffee shops serving Pumpkin Spiced Latte.
SWEET POTATO SPICED LATTE
- 1/3 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons sweet potato puree
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 shot of espresso
- Dash of cinnamon
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm milk gently, watching carefully to try to create some foam.
- Add sweet potato puree and stir until the frothed milk turns orange.
- Whisk in maple syrup. Taste and adjust the sweetness to your liking.
- Make the espresso. Pour the milk and the espresso into a mug; spoon foam onto the top.
- Sprinkle with cinnamon and other fall spices of your choice!