Robin's Fresh Take: All About Yams

sweet potatoes


Sweet potato

Photo by: Elena Schweitzer

Elena Schweitzer

Now that it's November, I'm ready to, ahem, yam it up. We typically think of this root vegetable during the cool months and holiday season, but yams are sweet, nutrient-packed and available year-round. Learn all about this superstar veggie and my favorite ways to serve it. Plus: What's the difference between sweet potatoes and yams?
Sweet Potatoes Vs. Yams

First up, what's a yam? Lots of folks use yams while calling them "sweet potatoes." Grocery stores only add to the confusion -- the USDA requires the labels on yams to also say sweet potatoes. Here's how to tell the difference: Yams have copper skin and a deliciously sweet orange flesh, while sweet potatoes have yellow-gray skin and white to yellowish flesh. If you can't tell from the skin, poke your fingernail into the skin to see the flesh underneath (but don't tell the produce people I said so).

So, the difference between sweet potatoes and yams is simply variety. Not to confuse you (but in an effort to leave no stone unturned) true “yams” aren’t related to either one – they’re tropical root vegetables with a crisp, bland, white/yellow flesh (and they’re sold mostly in Latin grocery stores so you don’t see them as often).

The Nutrition Facts

Nutritionally, yams rule. Thanks to the orange flesh, yams are brimming with vitamin C and beta carotene, both powerful antioxidants. They also boast potassium and fiber and clock in at about 150 calories per cup.

What to Do With Yams

I love to substitute yams wherever you'd use regular potatoes. They work in all types of dishes, from baked to roasted to mashed with butter and sour cream. My favorite recipe is one I make year-round and it’s super-simple: yams with maple and mandarin oranges.

First, peel and cube about 2 pounds of yams and toss them with a little olive oil. Spread them out on a large baking sheet and sprinkle with Old Bay seasoning. Bake the yams for 30 minutes at 375 degrees. Then, drizzle the yams with maple syrup and arrange mandarin oranges (from a can or jar) all around the baking sheet. Bake for another 15 minutes, until yams are golden brown and fork-tender.

TELL US: What's your favorite yam recipe?

Robin Miller is a nutritionist, host of Quick Fix Meals, author of “Robin Rescues Dinner” and the busy mom of two active little boys. Her boys and great food are her passion. Check her out at

You Might Also Like:

Next Up

We'll Take This Sheet Pan Shrimp Dinner Over Scampi All Summer

Don't worry, there's still plenty of garlic butter.

5 Quick Pickle Recipes For All Your Fresh Summer Produce

These pickled veggies can last, but once you taste ’em, they probably won’t last for long!

How to Store All the Fresh, Healthy Foods So They Last Longer

Correct storage strategy is key — here's how to put away produce and meat so it doesn't spoil quickly.

Restaurant Rivals Robert Irvine and Jon Taffer to Compete in Dinner-Takes-All Battle on New discovery+ Series

Mark your calendars — all three episodes will be available to stream only on discovery+ starting March 3.

Robin's Healthy Take: Zucchini

Robin Miller's healthy recipes for zucchini and summer squash.

Robin's Healthy Take: Creamed Vegetables

You don't need loads of butter and cream to make creamy vegetables. Robin Miller's recipes for creamed corn and spinach are creamy but not heavy.

Robin's Healthy Take: Coconut Shrimp

Robin puts a healthy spin on coconut shrimp for less than 200 calories per serving.

Robin's Healthy Take: Healthier Chips

Deep-fried chips are out; healthy, baked chips are in, like Robin Miller's kale chips, maple sweet potato chips and curried potato chips.