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Cook with yams: a guide for beginners

Yams: An Introduction To The World’s Greatest Starchy Vegetable

Yams are easily one of the top five most commonly consumed plant foods in the world, and one of the most popular starch staples. Learn a comprehensive history of yams, their nutritional attributes, how they are prepared, and how they make people feel in this definitive guide.

What are yams?

Yams are a tuber obtained from an underground storage organ of a tropical perennial vine that grows in parts of Africa, the Caribbean, Central America, South America and the American tropics. The tuber is about the size of a tennis ball and has a smooth exterior that can be either white or brown. Inside, the tuber is filled with starch granules that can reach 1 inch in diameter.

How are Yams Used in Cuisine?

The yam is a starchy vegetable that is found in many cuisines around the world. It is a central ingredient in many African, Caribbean, and Southeast Asian dishes. In North America, yams are most commonly used as a side dish or in sweet dishes.

The History of Yams

There’s a lot of mystery surrounding yams. People may be familiar with the sweet potato, another starch vegetable, but what about yams? They’re often relegated to a side dish or used in savory recipes, like gumbo and fried rice. But what are they really all about? Let’s take a closer look at this starchy tuber!

Yams have a long history and are eaten all over the world. In some parts of Africa they are considered sacred and are only eaten by royalty or very special people.

The sweet potato was first domesticated in Mexico about 8000 years ago. Yams probably originated in Africa and were introduced to other parts of the world like the yams that originate from Japan. Yams are mentioned in ancient texts such as the Bible and Homer’s Odyssey. The Romans ate them as part of a diet that included wine and oysters. The yam is one of the most important crops in Africa, where it is a staple food, cooked and stored for winter. Yams became popular in Europe, especially England.

They were brought to the New World with European colonists. The potato originated in the Andes Mountains of South America. It was first domesticated over 5000 years ago by Native American people who ate it as part of their traditional diet.

Nutritional Value of Yams and Their Health Benefits

There are many things to love about yams, including their nutritional value and health benefits. Like other starchy vegetables, yams are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. In addition to these important nutrients, yams also contain healthy fats and phytochemicals that can protect the body against disease.

One of the best things about them is their density and nutrient content. One cup of cooked yams contains 112 calories, 5 grams of fat, 11 grams of carbohydrate, and 2 grams of dietary fiber. This means that each gram of yams provides a decent amount of both protein and carbohydrate. In addition to being high in nutrients, yam also have low calorie counts for such a large vegetable.

Moreover, research has shown that consuming yams can improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes. This is likely because they are a good source of fiber which can work to slow down the digestion process. In addition to helping manage blood sugar levels, fiber has been linked with other health benefits such as reducing the risk of heart disease and obesity.

What are yellow yams?

Yellow yams are the starchiest type of yam and also the most popular. They are also called jamaican yams. It’s a sweet, starchy tuber that can be cooked in a variety of ways. Yellow yams are an excellent source of dietary fiber, vitamins C and B6, and minerals such as potassium and magnesium. They also contain healthy amounts of phosphorus, niacin, and thiamin.

Here is a sampling of recipes featuring yellow yams:

Stuffed Yellow Yam Peppers:


-1 yellow yam,
-2 bell peppers,
-olive oil,
-garlic powder,
-black pepper

How to prepare:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
2. Cut bell peppers into thin strips and spread on a baking sheet.
3. Peel and chop yellow yam into small pieces.
4. Drizzle olive oil over bell peppers and sprinkle with garlic powder, salt, and black pepper.
5. Mix well and bake for 25 minutes.

Serve hot!

Yam Casserole:


-3 cups vegetable broth,
-1 cup yellow split peas,
-1/2 teaspoon turmeric,
-2 tablespoons olive oil or butter,
-1 large onion (chopped), 2 cloves garlic ( minced ),
-2 teaspoons dried thyme,
-1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes,
-1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes,
-1 large yellow yam – peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces.

How to prepare:

1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat.
2. Saute onion and garlic until soft.
3. Add split peas and turmeric; cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until peas are golden brown.
4. Stirring occasionally.
5. Add vegetable broth and thyme; bring to a boil.
6. Reduce heat; simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
7. Remove from heat.
8. Stir in diced tomatoes; set aside while cooking yam strips on another burner (at 400 degrees F).
9. Add yam strips to the veggies in broth and enjoy!

What is elephant yam?

Elephant yam, Dioscorea elephantum, is a popular and versatile starchy vegetable that is typically eaten as a vegetable or root vegetable. It is a perennial vine that grows up to 30 feet tall. Elephant yams are native to west Africa and parts of the Americas. They grow in warm climates and can be cooked in many ways, such as boiled, steamed, or roasted. Elephant yams, also known as elephant herbs, are grown in warm climates and can be cooked in many ways.

Elephant yam is commonly used in soups and stews. It is also eaten raw or cooked as a side dish, in salads, or as a vegetable in curries. Elephant yams are known by many different names including: channa dal, dwenya ngo, eddi ngomo, ewumango, erra ganda, kudu bean, mbega milanga and taro.

What are New Zealand yams?

New Zealand yams are notably different than other types because they are not sweet and do not taste like potatoes. In fact, many people do not even know what they are until they try them. New Zealand yams are starchier than other yams and have a stronger flavor. Some people find them to be too dry, but others love their texture and flavor.

Unlike other yams, new zealand yams can be cooked in many ways. They can be cooked in water or with butter or oil. They can also be baked, boiled, or mashed. Some people even use them as the base for stews or casseroles.

What are red yams?

Medium to large in size, red yams are cylindrical and slender, with tapered ends. A dusty brown-maroon color covers the rough skin with brown spots. Firm, dense, and moist, the flesh is orange-gold. A Red yam’s taste is sweet, savory, and earthy when flavored, and its texture is starchy. Also edible is the foliage of the Red yam plant, which has a spinach-like flavor and nutrients.

The red yam is a tuberous root vegetable that can grow up to 2 meters (6 feet) long and weigh up to 80 kilograms (176 pounds). The skin is light brown and smooth, but cracks when dried. The flesh is a deep red, sometimes almost black, with a sweet taste and a slightly bitter aftertaste. The seed coat is thick and leathery, making it difficult to remove. Red yam tubers typically have two main uses: as a food item and as an industrial material.

As a food item, the red yam is boiled or steamed until soft and then mashed or pounded into a paste. It can be used fresh or frozen and is often served with chicken, fish, or vegetables. In some parts of Africa, red yam is used as a thickener in soups and stews. Red yams are also eaten boiled, served with porridge, or mashed in breads baked with flour or cassava flour. In some areas, red yam root is used to make a beverage called ‘chin-chin’ (the word chin-chin means coagulated blood) and can be found in markets and small shops that sell African food products.


If you’re looking for a healthy, filling snack that can also be used in recipes, yams should definitely be on your list. Not only are they nutritious and delicious, but they’re great for the environment too! In this article, we took a look at what these tubers are good for, why they’re so good for you, and some of the best ways to eat them. So put down that potato chip baggie and give yam a try – you won’t regret it!

Yams FAQ

How long do yams last?

Yams are a long-lasting fruit that usually last for about 10 days. The amount of time it takes for yams to go bad depends on the environment and how you store them. Usually, they can last up to 2 weeks in an airtight container or up to 6 months in a refrigerator.

How do you roast yams?

Roasting yams is a bit different from what you might think. Basically, you cut the top off of the yam and put them on an oven proof dish on 400 degrees Fahrenheit with some salt and pepper, then sprinkle the rest of the yam with dried thyme, sage, brown sugar, cinnamon and allspice before popping them into the oven for 30-35 minutes.

How do you prepare yams in the oven?

Boil the yams in a pot with boiling water for 15 to 20 minutes. Drain them, then transfer them to a greased and coated (with cooking spray or oil) baking sheet. Bake at 300 degrees Fahrenheit until they are tender.