In much of Asia, dishes with sweet potato leaves are common, but it hasn’t gained as much popularity in the U.S. If you like spinach, broccoli, cabbage, and kale for their nutritional value, you should love sweet potato leaves. This uncommon but highly nutritious leafy green contain more antioxidants compared to spinach. Antioxidants are compounds that are disease preventing and health promoting. Click on the link or scroll down to check out my sweet potato leaves recipe!
From Garden to Table
Coming from a Filipino background, I grew up eating sweet potato leaves (talbos ng kamote) regularly for breakfast. In virtually every Filipino household with a garden plot, it’s a sure bet that you’ll find sweet potatoes flourishing. I planted my first sweet potato patch three months ago. I started with a few cuttings from my dad’s garden. When I get a craving for Filipino breakfast, I simply go to my backyard and harvest sweet potato leaves.
Sweet Potato Background
The sweet potato, also known as Ipomoea batatas, originated from the tropical regions of the American the continent. Early maritime travel played a key role in transforming this plant into the 7th most important food crop in the modern world. Archaeological evidence supports that it was first imported by Polynesians as early as 1000 AD, and it later spread with European expansion in the 1600s throughout Asia and Africa. This plant is popularly known for its root which can be turned into powdered starch, paste, beverage, alcoholic drink, and even a natural colorant. Sweet potato leaves, although less known, is recognized for its nutritional profile which boasts a whole range of health benefits .
Sweet Potato Leaves Phytochemistry
The nutrient profile of sweet potato greens rivals common vegetables including spinach. It is a rich source of vitamin C, E, K, B, β-carotene, iron, calcium, zinc, and protein. Furthermore, it is also abundant in antioxidative polyphenolics including anthocyanins as well as caffeic, monocafeoylquinic (chlorogenic), dicaffeoylquinic, and tricaffeoylquinic acids. Reports indicate that sweet potato leaves contain the most available source of anthocyanins, a class of antioxidants linked to a variety of health benefits .
- Protects against: diseases linked to oxidative stress and inflammation, allergies, aging, hepatotoxicity, human immunodeficiency virus, and cardiovascular disorders.
If you are interested in reading more about the benefits of sweet potato leaves, check out this research paper .
Sweet Potato Leaves Preparation
Sweet potato leaves can be prepared as a vegetable, tea, in noodles, bread, pastries, and supplements. It can be cooked in a similar fashion as other greens including spinach and cabbage. It can be sautéed with garlic or stir-fried with other vegetables. Other food companies utilize the dry powder for juice, paste, and ice cream. The simplest way I know to prepare it is by blanching it in hot water. This method is also great for preserving the leafy green’s nutrients.
Sweet Potato Leaves Recipe
- 1 bundle of sweet potato leaves
- 2 cups of water
- 1/2 cup diced tomato
- 1 tsp finely chopped chives
- 1 tsp fish sauce or to taste (note: other alternatives include salt, soy sauce, liquid amino)
Prep: 5 mins | Cook: 5 mins | Ready in 10 mins
- In a pot, bring water to a boil.
- Remove leaves from stem and discard any tough parts.
- Once the water comes to a boil, turn off the stove and place sweet potato leaves in the water for 2-3 minutes. After removing it from the hot water, place it on a plate with paper towel to remove excess water.
- In a bowl, mix sweet potato leaves, diced tomatoes, and chives. Season with fish sauce or any salty alternatives.
Chef’s note: This recipe is perfectly paired with steamed rice and fried eggs. If you have any left-over rice, stir-frying it with garlic and it will taste amazing. Although I recommend that you grow sweet potatoes, if not possible, you can sometimes find them in specialty Asian grocery stores.