Recipe For Health
Jill Yarbrough, Dining Services Test Kitchen Manager
Featured Food: Sweet Potatoes Yield: Serves 4Learn more about Sweet Potatoes


  • 2 ¼ lbs. fresh sweet potatoes
  • ½ can light or unsweetened pears, drained
  • 2 T. brown sugar
  • ⅓ c. half and half
  • ⅛ – ¼ t. ground thyme (to taste)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Wash and then cut sweet potatoes in half. Wrap in foil.

Cook in 325º oven for 20 minutes or until the insides are done.

Allow potatoes to cool and then remove skin. In a bowl, mix potatoes with pears, sugar, thyme, and half and half.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Heat mixture and serve hot.

Learn More About Sweet Potatoes

Has anyone ever asked you to pass the candied yams at a holiday dinner? A 1930’s marketing campaign confusingly called sweet potatoes yams and the name stuck. A true yam is a tropical vegetable commonly grown in Africa, South America and the Pacific Islands, and is rarely seen in U.S. markets. Yams grow up to seven feet long and have a rougher outside, and a starchier inside than sweet potatoes.

The standard sweet potato, bright orange and elongated with ends that taper to a point, is grown and consumed abundantly in the southeast United States. This one, as well as the dark-orange varieties, is rich in beta-carotene (precursor of vitamin A), whereas red and purple sweet potatoes are excellent sources of anthocyanins. Most sweet potatoes get sweeter when cooked due to the action of maltase, an enzyme that breaks down the starch. Slower cooking methods, such as baking and roasting, give the maltase more time to work yielding a sweeter product.

Selection and handling of sweet potatoes:

• Choose firm roots with no cracks or bruises.

• Handle with care. Even a small bruise spreads quickly below the surface and spoils the entire vegetable. 

• Do not refrigerate; storing fresh sweet potatoes at temperatures below 55ºF may result in “hard core” causing the center to remain woody when cooked. Store in a cool cupboard or on the countertop. 

• Despite the potato name, sweet potatoes are not good keepers. Plan to use sweet potatoes within a week to 10 days following purchase. 

• Scrub well before cooking. If yours are organically grown sweet potatoes, you can eat the entire vegetable, including the skin. 

• Peel your sweet potatoes if they have been treated with wax or dye. Once peeled, cover with water to prevent oxidation until you’re ready to cook them. 

Harvest time in Michigan is September and October. It takes six to eight weeks after harvest for sweet potatoes to reach their peak in sweetness. When stored in temperature- and humidity-controlled warehouses, the sweet potato’s shelf life is extended to 12 months making them available in the grocery store year-round. Sweet!

Peggy Crum MA, RD

Featured Recipes

Recipe For Health

Rhubarb & Strawberry Crisp

Combine tart rhubarb with sweet strawberries, add a streusel topping, and bake until bubbly. Dessert doesn’t get easier—or more classic—than this. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. You’re sure to get rave reviews!

Recipe For Health

Farro Salad with Grilled Vegetables

Chewy farro grains are delicious in this autumn-y salad. Recipe yields enough for dinner for 2 to 4 with some left for a couple of lunches. To do this, make the base with dressing, farro, and grilled veggies. Add fresh veggies to the base as you go.

Recipe For Health

Pecan and Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Roasting amps up the flavor in everything including pecans. Chef Kurt's attention to detail takes a traditional chocolate chip cookie to another level of yum!

Recipe For Health

Onion Soup

Onions, the simplest of pantry staples, mingle with butter, broth, and herbs to become luxuriously smooth and delicious. Add "homemade" croutons and a blend of cheeses to make a complete and satisfying meal.

More Food and Nutrition Recipes

Find a Recipe

Browse all recipes

Find a Class

Browse all courses

Search Health4U

Coaching and Counseling Services

Coaching and Counseling Services provides you with access to accurate health and lifestyle information, helping you to explore new behaviors and skills, and identifying useful campus and community resources.

MSU community members eligible for coaching and counseling services include faculty, staff, graduate assistants, retirees and the spouses/partners of members of these groups.

To schedule an appointment with Health4U you are not required to email us from your MSU email address; please email us from the email address you are most comfortable with. 

Read More

Departmental Services

The goal of department based services is to provide work units and colleagues the opportunity to learn about health and wellness as a group activity or exploration.  

Read More

Health e-Guide

This guide has been discontinued and is no longer viewable.

Visit Health e-Guide