As a chef and cookbook author hailing from North Carolina, Vivian Howard is more than happy to share her passion for sweet potatoes......

Here are a few pieces of wisdom that Vivian shared with from her cookbook Deep Run Roots. After reading the her thoughts below, head to the kitchen and try your hand at Vivian's recipe for Grandma Hill's Candied Yams.

Sweet Potatoes Are Better
I love the taste and texture of French fries, potato chips, baked potatoes, and mashed potatoes, but hate the guilt I feel when I eat them. The white potato offers little more than calories and carbohydrates, so I run from it like it’s actual fat trying to attach itself to my thighs. That why I try sweet potatoes and their super nutrition anywhere a white potato might be used.

Potatoes and Yams
When I think of a sweet potato, I think of an elongated root with rose skin and orange, mildly sweet, creamy flesh. This is only one of two major types of true sweet potatoes. The others are a little harder and have a paler skin and yellow flesh. Both hail from South America. Although we throw the word yam around all the time, yams are not sweet potatoes. Yams are edible roots, but their skin is thicker and kind of scaly. Their flesh is dry, starchy, fibrous, and often stark white. Even if I call them candied yams, I’m using the orange-fleshed sweet potatoes abundant in North Carolina, such as Covington, Beauregard, and Jewel.

Mashing and Blending
Sweet Potatoes have much less starch than white potatoes. Feel good about throwing roasted sweet potato flesh in the food processor. You can blend it all day long and it won’t become gluey.

Size and Sweetness
Some people believe small sweet potatoes are sweeter than big ones. Not all sweet potatoes taste the same, but I don’t believe size is the determining factor. Small ones are ideal for roasting whole in their jackets, and we like big ones for peeling and cutting into shapes. Sweet potatoes need to cure in a humid spot for four to seven days. Curing extends their shelf life and improves their flavor by transforming some of the starches into sugar.

Fat Makes Them Healthier!
Sweet Potatoes are naturally high in vitamin K, which is a fat-soluble vitamin. To absorb everything the root has in store for you, eat it with a little butter or oil.

Eat the Skin
I never dreamed of eating a sweet potato’s skin till recently. For some reason it seemed off-limits. No more! Coated in a little oil, seasoned, and roasted, sweet potatoes with the skin left on are a new trend in our kitchen.