Please Meet My New Vegetable Friend

Sweet Potato greens

A few weeks ago I wrote about being ‘mentally flexible’ and looking for new power foods all around. Last time I found amaranth in my mother’s garden, which is used as a cattle feed in Eastern Europe. It turned out to be a power food – a vitamin and mineral rich plant that has as much protein as spinach and broccoli – up to 30% (you did know that greens have protein, right?!). Plus it tastes amazing in a hearty lentil soup or sauteed with some garlic.

By the way I am all about lentil soups in the fall so if you have a favorite recipe, please post it in the comment section or email it to nadyaand @ I write a post on lentil soups, its benefits and include 10 best recipes. You will get a full credit with a mention of your blog/website.

Back to the topic of super greens: Yesterday, I went to the Union Square farmer’s market to pick up some veggies. I would’ve spent an hour talking to the best herbalists (farmers who specialize in growing fresh herbs:) ) – Two Guys in Vermont but a strong garlicky aroma lured me to the nearby stand. There I met my new friend – Sweet Potato greens. The best way to promote a good product is to let your potential customers try it for themselves. This is exactly what a Chinese lady, busy preparing a tasting of sauteed sweet potato leaves, was doing next to her stand. It smelled like heaven! Even though I’ve never tried them before or had any idea how to cook them, I grabbed a bunch.

Cut Up Sweet Potato Leaves

Later after googling my new found green, I found out that sweet potatoes greens is a common crop widely grown in Asia and the Pacific. Even though it is rich in protein and vitamin A, it is looked down upon sometimes as the food for the poor. If you think about it, poor people especially in the 3rd world countries, where cheap fast food is unavailable, have to keep their food choices very efficient. Their diet is very simple and consists mostly out of local seasonal products. It might seem boring for the palate but there is nothing better for our stomach than a simple easy-to-predict and to-digest fare.

Sweet potato leaves are cheap, nutritious and versatile. They are slowly gaining in popularity in the West, as we try to go back to the basics of healthy simple eating. The leaves are tender, have a nicely balanced flavor, not even a hint of bitterness. The most common ways to cook this green is to stir fry it or saute it. You can also try using the leaves in a coconut milk based curry. I sauteed mine.

Try it at home: Sauteed sweet potato leaves:

One bunch of sweet potato leaves
1 hot red chilly pepper (I used a fresh one but a dry one will do)
1-2 cloves of garlic
Coarse mineral salt, herbs de Provence, pepper to taste


  1. Thoroughly wash the leaves in hot water
  2. Strip the leaves from the branches. The thin stems that attach the leaves to the branch are tender enough to eat, so there is no need to remove only the leaves.
  3. Chop the leaves in ½ inch strips
  4. Mince garlic and the chilly pepper
  5. In a large skillet or wok, heat some vegetable oil over high heat. When it is hot, add the garlic and chilies. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring often.
  6. Add the greens, then saute the mixture until the greens are tender, about 2 or 3 minutes. Add salt, pepper, or herbs de Provence to taste.

Did you make any new fruit or vegetable friends this summer?
Eat you veggies!


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