Sweet potatoes are a versatile and nutritious vegetable that can be prepared in many different ways. One method some people may consider is blending or pureeing raw sweet potatoes to make sweet potato juice or add to smoothies. However, raw sweet potatoes contain compounds that can make them difficult to digest and provide an unpleasant taste when blended raw. In this article, we’ll look at the pros and cons of blending raw sweet potatoes and whether it’s advisable to do so.
What Happens When You Blend Raw Sweet Potatoes?
Sweet potatoes contain starch, fiber, antioxidants like beta-carotene, and other plant compounds that provide many health benefits. However, raw sweet potatoes also contain compounds called protease inhibitors and polyphenols, which can cause digestive issues if consumed in large quantities .
Protease inhibitors interfere with the enzymes needed to properly digest proteins. Polyphenols provide protection against illness and disease for the sweet potato plant, but can cause a bitter, astringent taste in large doses.
When you blend or juice raw sweet potatoes, you release more of these compounds from the cell walls and consume them in higher concentrations than if the sweet potato was cooked. This can result in an unpleasant, bitter taste and potential stomach upset or other digestive discomfort.
Some signs you may experience if consuming a large amount of raw blended sweet potato include:
- Bitter, unpleasant flavor
- Tannic, dry mouthfeel
- Stomach pain or cramping
The starch in raw sweet potatoes can also lead to a gritty, fibrous texture when blended or juiced. Overall, blending raw sweet potatoes does not lead to the best tasting or most easily digested results.
Benefits of Cooking Sweet Potatoes Before Blending
Cooking sweet potatoes before blending brings some important benefits:
- Improves digestibility – Heat breaks down protease inhibitors and polyphenols, making the nutrients in sweet potatoes easier to absorb.
- Enhances flavor – Cooking mellows out the taste of sweet potatoes, leading to a sweet, creamy blended texture.
- Softens texture – Heat softens and gelatinizes the starch and fiber in sweet potatoes, giving a smooth, pulp-like consistency when blended.
- Retains nutrients – Many nutrients like beta-carotene become more bioavailable after cooking. Water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C and B vitamins may decrease, but sweet potatoes are still nutritious.
- Kills bacteria – Cooking eliminates any bacteria on the surface of sweet potatoes, important if you’re blending them without peeling.
For these reasons, it’s highly recommended to steam, boil, roast, or bake sweet potatoes before blending to make the healthiest and tastiest results.
How to Cook Sweet Potatoes for Blending
Cooking sweet potatoes helps release more antioxidants like beta-carotene, break down fibrous components, and provide a smooth, easy-to-digest blend . Here are some easy methods for cooking sweet potatoes before blending:
Baking whole sweet potatoes enveloped in tin foil is an easy hands-off method. Bake medium sweet potatoes at 400°F for 45-60 minutes until fork tender. Allow to cool slightly before scooping out flesh and blending.
Steaming is a fast, nutrient-retaining method. Peel and chop sweet potatoes into 1-inch chunks. In a steamer basket or colander, steam over boiling water for 15-20 minutes until soft. Transfer steamed chunks to a blender.
Boil chopped, peeled sweet potato chunks in lightly salted water for 10-15 minutes until tender when pierced. Drain and transfer boiled sweet potatoes to a blender.
For deeper flavor, roast chopped sweet potato wedges tossed in oil and spices at 400°F for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before blending roasted sweet potatoes.
Microwave chopped sweet potatoes in a covered dish with 2 tablespoons water for 4-5 minutes until soft. Carefully transfer hot sweet potatoes to a blender.
Any of these cooking methods can be used to prepare sweet potatoes for blending into creamy soups, smoothies, juices, sauces, or purees.
How to Blend Cooked Sweet Potatoes
Once your sweet potatoes are cooked, blending them is easy. Here are some tips:
– Allow sweet potatoes to cool for 5-10 minutes before blending to prevent splattering.
– Cut sweet potatoes into smaller pieces or scoop flesh away from skin before adding to blender. The smaller the pieces, the smoother the blend.
– For smooth purees, mix in about 1-2 tablespoons liquid (milk, juice, or water) per one cup of cooked sweet potatoes. The liquid helps the blender blades process the sweet potatoes fully.
– Start on low speed and increase speed gradually to puree. Blend in batches if needed to allow movement of sweet potato pieces near the blades.
– Blend for 1-3 minutes until completely smooth, stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Strain for ultra-smooth texture.
– Add any extra ingredients after pureeing the sweet potatoes first. Spices, sweeteners, or extra liquids blend more easily into an already smooth puree.
With cooked sweet potatoes, it’s possible to make silky smooth soups, dips, sauces, and baked goods. The possibilities are endless!
Tips for Adding Blended Sweet Potatoes to Recipes
Here are some ways to use blended cooked sweet potato in recipes:
For thick, creamy smoothies, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup cooked and blended sweet potato per serving. Banana, peanut butter, and cocoa powder complement the sweet potato flavor.
Puree roasted sweet potatoes with stock and your choice of aromatics to make a velvety potato soup. Garnish with yogurt or cream.
Mix about 1 cup sweet potato puree per 2 cups flour into pancake batter. Cook as usual for decadent sweet potato pancakes.
Swap 1/4 to 1/2 of the flour in cookie recipes for cooked sweet potato puree for soft, cakey texture. Works great in brownies too.
Blend cooked, peeled sweet potato with breastmilk or formula for an easy homemade baby food. Provides vitamin A, fiber, and natural sweetness.
Puree roasted sweet potato with coconut milk, spices, and garlic for a creamy orange curry sauce for chicken, shrimp, or veggies.
Mash boiled sweet potatoes with Greek yogurt, lime juice, cumin, and cilantro for a tangy, bold dip for chips or crudités.
With its mild flavor and smooth texture, blended sweet potato can be a nutritious addition to both sweet and savory recipes.
Potential Downsides of Blended Sweet Potatoes
While blending cooked sweet potatoes has many benefits, there are a few potential downsides to keep in mind:
– Fiber content is decreased – Blending breaks down fiber, lowering the overall fiber content compared to eating whole pieces of sweet potato.
– Nutrients degrade over time – Vitamin C and certain antioxidants start to break down shortly after blending. For maximum nutrition, consume blended sweet potato soon after making.
– Not suitable for every diet – People following low-carb, keto, or paleo diets may want to limit blended sweet potatoes due to their high carbohydrate content.
– Potential added sugars/fats – When adding sweet potatoes to recipes like baked goods, it’s easy to also increase sugar, oil, or other ingredients high in calories.
– Less satisfying – Drinking blended sweet potatoes may be less filling than eating them whole. leading to potential overconsumption of calories.
To get the most benefits from sweet potatoes, vary your preparation methods or enjoy blended sweet potatoes in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet.
Storing Blended Sweet Potatoes
To retain the best flavor and texture when storing blended sweet potato:
– Allow purees to cool completely before storage. Transfer to an airtight container.
– Store in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.
– Freeze for longer storage of 2-3 months. Frozen cubes of sweet potato puree can be thawed and added to recipes as needed.
– Store any smoothies or juices containing sweet potato in an airtight container in the fridge for no more than 1-2 days. Consume as soon as possible for best quality.
Proper storage keeps blended sweet potatoes safe to consume while preserving their flavor, color, and nutrient content. Discard any blends that smell or appear off.
While it’s possible to blend raw sweet potatoes, cooking them first is highly recommended. Cooking methods like baking, steaming, boiling, and roasting help reduce anti-nutrients, improve digestibility and flavor, and provide a smooth consistency when blended. Cooked sweet potato can be blended into a variety of soups, baked goods, smoothies, sauces, baby foods and more. Store blended sweet potatoes in the refrigerator or freezer, and aim to consume within a few days to a few months for optimal freshness and nutritional quality. Enjoy experimenting with blending cooked sweet potatoes into both savory and sweet recipes.
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