Across the United States, National Cook A Sweet Potato Day on February 22nd celebrates a root vegetable packed with flavor and a bit of history, too. The sweet potato is eaten and loved, each day, by millions of people across the nation.

Either Central America or South America is thought to be the center of origin and domestication of sweet potatoes. In Central America, sweet potatoes were domesticated at least 5,000 years ago. Peruvian sweet potato remnants dating as far back as 8,000 BC have been found in South America. 

The sweet potato is an excellent source of vitamin A, which supports good vision, the immune system, and bone growth. Sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamin B-6, magnesium, and vitamin C.  It’s also great for the complexion.

While many Americans confuse the sweet potato with a yam, the two are different. A yam is a starchy tuber while the sweet potato is truly a sweet root vegetable. The sweet potato also comes in a variety of sizes and colors, including pale to bright orange, white and purple. High in fiber and low in fat and calories, this root vegetable is a healthful alternative to snack foods when prepared without added butter, sugar or salt.

Unlike other potatoes, sweet potatoes like long, hot growing seasons. This might explain why it is the state vegetable of North Carolina.  

When storing your sweet potatoes, keep them in a cool, dry place. However, don’t refrigerate them unless they’re cooked. Refrigeration will give them a bitter taste, ruining their sweet flavor. Cooks find numerous ways to experiment with sweet potatoes, too! 

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HOW TO OBSERVE #CookASweetPotatoDay

No matter how you cook a sweet potato, be sure to invite someone to share it with you. What’s your favorite meal of the day? Then make a sweet potato dish! Breakfast, lunch, supper or dessert call for sweet potatoes in some form. While you’re celebrating, share your favorite dishes with us. We even have a few for you to try:

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie
Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries
Sweet Potato Pineapple Casserole
Louisiana Sweet Potato PancakesSweet Potato Casserole with Crunchy Pecan ToppingSweet Potato Cake

Use #CookASweetPotatoDay to post on social media.