Sunday, January 10, 2010

Without Potatoes

Going gluten free and potato free has been harder than I anticipated. I hadn't realized how prevalent potato starch was as a GF ingredient, before we experienced it ourselves. So many of the GF bread products use it, and far too many soups and sauces use potatoes as well.

On top of that, my daughter has been a huge lover of potatoes her whole life, so taking her off potatoes during the elimination trial has been a constant source of angst. And then we went to California on a trip and discovered the fantastic, amazing Whole Foods in Cupertino; there we discovered Yellow Hannah Sweet Potatoes.

I, as I've said, am pretty food and cooking ignorant. This applies in spades to sweet potatoes and yams. I don't live in the Southern United States where there are more local sweet potato dishes around me, so in my life, this is a food you eat at Thanksgiving dinner with pecans and maple added to it.

I was floored to see the Hannah suckers. They look like a potato in the shape of a garnet yam.

The picture here is a garnet yam on the bottom, and...well, honestly, I don't know what the top one is! Here at our local Whole Foods, they don't label things quite as clearly. All I know is that this is a 'sweet potato.' However, it is similar to the Hannah, so we have been buying it.

As for taste? These have a milder 'dark sweetness' flavor than the red fleshed ones I've found. Much milder. They can substitute in dishes that need chopped potatoes, as long as the flavor of the dish is strong, and guests who eat it haven't even guessed it's not a potato. I think the creamy, yellowish flesh helps make the trick work. The eye sees a potato, the texture is a potato, and so if the taste isn't strong...well, our imagination does the rest.

Foodies might not be fooled, but hey, it works for us!

Also, the kids have really enjoyed the baked sweet potato fries I've started making. They have helped my kids through their 'no french fries, no potatoes' difficulties.

Basically, these pale sweet potatoes are now on my list of what to use instead of potatoes.

If you are potato free now as well, but are as clueless about sweet potatoes as I was, here's a little bit of help!

To know more about different types of sweet potatoes, here's a site that tells a little about them, and also ships a few of the varieties to your home:

And here's a site that discusses yams vs. sweet potatoes and their varieties:

And, in addition, here's just a thought.

Product Recommendation:
Pounded yam (yam flour) - this is essentially powdered yam. I've found it at african or 'ethnic' grocery stores around here, but I'd bet you can find it on-line. You can make instant mashed sweet-potatoes, basically. The type we've found, however, has soy oil added to it. I don't know if it's available soy-free or not. I very much wonder if this would work instead of potato starch in some recipes. I honestly have NO idea, since we can't have soy, so I haven't been able to try it. But, for the clueless like myself - hey, worth a try, eh? If you try it, let me know how it worked out!

Good luck, fellow potato-less folk!

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