The sweet potato is a tuberous vegetable whose origins are still mysterious. It is believed to have been brought to Europe by Christopher Columbus, although it was already being cultivated in tropical America and Polynesia. There are more than 500 varieties. Since it does not like the cold, France only grows it in Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon. A recurring question I am asked is: is it a vegetable or a starch? And is it nutritionally comparable to the potato? What are its own nutritional advantages? When can it be introduced into baby's diet? In addition to answering these questions, I will give you some appetizing recipes to treat your child and diversify his diet.
Introduction, composition and nutritional benefits for babies
Gluten-free, it can easily replace potatoes in most recipes, from the beginning of the dietary diversification process, i.e. between 4 and 6 months according to the new national recommendations. It does not pose any particular digestive problems. Its carbohydrate content (mainly slow sugars) is about 12g per 100g of food, which is much lower than the majority of starchy foods (between 20 and 30g per 100g)! So yes, this food is to be considered as a starch.
The sweet potato is not high in fibre and contains less fibre than the average potato and tuber. However, it is rich in vitamin A, which contributes to the maintenance of normal skin and vision and the proper functioning of the immune system. It is also a source of copper, manganese and potassium as well as vitamins C and B6.
Seasonality, selection criteria and conservation
The sweet potato is available all year round. It is not a particularly fragile food. To be sure of choosing a quality sweet potato, choose a firm, heavy one; its skin is regularly marked but it should not be stained or clearly damaged. It is best to keep it cool and dry after purchase.
Delicious recipes for baby...
Subtly sweet, it can be cooked from starter to dessert. It takes 45 to 50 minutes in the oven, 15 to 20 minutes inboiling water, steam or fry and only 10 minutes in the deep fryer. It is best to steam and limit cooking in water to preserve a maximum of vitamins and minerals.
Frequently offered as chips as part of the DME (child-led diversification), the sweet potato is also excellent baked and served with a fromage blanc and chive sauce. You can also cook it in a velouté, in a gratin, in puree, in croquettes, in gnocchi, stuffed, stir-fried in a wok or even in a sweet version or in desserts such as pancakes, cakes, tarts and other cakes or orange-flavoured fondants...
Dietician - Nutritionist specialising in paediatrics