‘Imo’ is Japanese for potato but the word also means uncool. I beg to differ. This is one hot potato.

I was introduced to a Satsuma-Imo potato by a dear friend who met me in a Whole Foods Market booth for lunch with a little brown paper bag. At the end of our soup and salad she opened the bag and out rolls a warm, deep red root vegetable? “Dessert?”, I thought. This still warm, sweet, creamy potato was sliced and handed to me with a grin.

I happened to have brought along my favorite maple almond butter to share. A light smear over the sweetest spud was indescribable. Layer on the fact that this vegetable grown deep in nutrient-rich soil is full of antioxidants, vitamins A, B and C and iron. One medium-sized sweet potato has 438% of your daily value of vitamin A (a white potato contains 1%.) Sweet potatoes are known for their ability to improve blood sugar regulation and prevent nagging sugar cravings.

A few tips for cultivating your ‘Imo’ potato:

  • Eat the skin. The antioxidant level in the skin is said to be triple of that in the flesh!
  • Wash them well.
  • Poke ’em so they can take the heat.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degree. Bake for 45 minutes depending upon the size of the potato. Some ovens run hotter and will require less cooking time. Check potato half-way through with a knife for best results.
  • Bake potatoes on just a cookie sheet.
  • Allow them to rest outside of the oven before eating.
  • Enjoy the Satsuma-Imo as a snack, dessert or a meal. Eat one just as is, or alongside mashed avocado with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. If you are working late and want a healthy meal prepared in-a-hurry, stuff your spud with sauteed greens and onions, chunks of avocado and a dash of sweet cayenne. (Pre-bake a bunch of potatoes for the week ahead!)

The Satsuma-Imo traditionally heralds fall and winter but select Asian and local green markets are carrying them most of the year now. Sweet.

Originally published at medium.com