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It's Foodie Friday! Purple Sweet Potato

Friday, July 01, 2011
Until last week, I don't think I had ever seen a purple sweet potato.  In fact, I know I hadn't.  My, how things change.

My husband and I were on the island of Kauai last week and one day at around 3:30pm were looking for a place to eat.  As seems to be the norm, we couldn't find a spot that was open since in my experience dining anytime between 3pm and 5pm is always a tough time to find a meal because many restaurants have either closed after lunch and/or are gearing up for dinner service.  After checking out a few places, we were lucky enough to end up at Oasis on the Beach, an upscale poolside  restaurant/bar that showcases the best Hawaiian agriculture through eclectic methods of preparation and rests within the Waipouli Beach Resort.   All of the food at Oasis is served tapas style and 90% of its ingredients are from local sources...including the Okinawan purple sweet potato chips and purple sweet potato puree.  

Okinawan purple sweet potato chips...eaten by One Brown Girl.
Oasis on the Beach / Kauai, HI / June 2011

Seared tuna with Okinawan purple sweet potato puree & bok choi...
eaten by One Brown Girl @ Oasis on the Beach / Kauai, HI / June 2011
Of course, what I didn't know until I got home and researched it, is that Okinawan purple sweet potatos are native to the Japanese island, Okinawa and are also known as Hawaiian purple sweet potatos.  According to, Christopher Columbus took sweet potatoes from Central America and the West Indies to Spain and Spanish explorers took them to the Phillippines.  Then Portugese explorers took them to China and China introduced them to Japan over 300 years ago.  It is believed that the Purple Sweet Potato was brought to Hawaii a couple of centuries ago when many Japanese were immigrating to the islands while it is a fact that today, China is the largest grower of all sweet potatoes, providing about 80% of the world's supply.  [Source]  That's a lot of traveling for a sweet potato, dontchathink?
Sweet potato flaky pastry, typical in Japan.  Source: Wiki
You might also be interested to know that purple sweet potatos are not only tasty (although the chips weren't that sweet but the puree was), but fat-free, low in calories, high in fiber, great for diabetics and people who are carbohydrate sensitive, and loaded with antioxidants.  A one cup serving of Hawaiian Purple Sweet Potatoes has only 140 calories, yet is packed with 4 grams of dietary fiber.  [Source]  And for you traditional sweet potato pie eaters, I even found a recipe for purple sweet potato pie (pictured above left).  Is that novel or what?  Almost as novel as purple carrots...which is next on my list of Things to Try.

I admit that I'm a pretty picky eater, but I'm happy to say that I discovered a new food that I actually like...and the fact that it's good for me is the gravy on top.  No, wait.  I don't want gravy on my purple sweet potatos.  Now that just wouldn't do.  Blech.


Kim on: July 1, 2011 at 12:59 PM said...

How did I miss you on Kauai?! This is well-written, well-researched and, well, dripping with drool. I must go. Maybe even today for lunch. I've had their sweet potato chips before, and I agree: yum. When you come back, there's another restaurant (22North) that makes from scratch regular, ol' sweet potato chips--the orange kind! They're delish, too.

Unknown on: July 1, 2011 at 3:24 PM said...

Hi Kim!
Good thing I'll be back! We'll have to MAKE SURE we connect. Kauai is awesome and so were the purple sweet potatos! I'm jealous that you're going to Oasis. Yum. I stopped by 22North quite by accident after Luau Kalamaku and a stop at Koloa Rum. I just LOVE the Ambiance. Bummer that I didn't find it until the day before I was leaving, but there will DEFINITELY be a next time. Can't wait. Sweet potatos, here I come. LOL

Unknown on: July 3, 2011 at 9:47 AM said...

I have seen this in a vegetable garden catalog. I thought it was a hybrid vegetable or something. I would love to try that some day because I love my veges and my fave color purple. Also, I looove your blog, it inspires me to travel more.

The Duo Dishes on: July 3, 2011 at 3:19 PM said...

We just tried to poke around and find traditional purple potatoes for a Maori recipe we made for the blog. No luck. If the Okinawan taters had been around, we could've used those! Oh well. It's fun to find a new dish or ingredient that blows your mind. You never know what you'll learn.

Alouise on: July 3, 2011 at 3:58 PM said...

I've heard of purple potatoes but I've never seen one. I didn't realize they were that purple. They look very cool.

Unknown on: July 3, 2011 at 4:07 PM said...

Kandis, Duo & Aloise: Thank you for your comments! I think purple sweet potatos are cool (and tasty!) too. I asked some of my Facebook friends to name their favorite purple food, and someone actually made purple yam cupcake frosting! LOL See > Also, Duo Dishes, I wonder if Whole Foods (maybe Traders?) has purple taters? If not, I'm thinking that maybe a Japanese or Asian market would. I'm going to look next week and see if I can make some purple sweet potatos of my own...blow my mind some more. ;-D

Unknown on: July 10, 2011 at 3:29 AM said...

I have never seen purple carrots...that was completely new to me. I've never eaten the purple sweet potatoes either, but this is something that I would definitely love to try. Thank you for sharing! :)

Fly Girl on: August 2, 2012 at 7:10 AM said...

Okinawa sweet potatoes were my favorite thing to eat on Kauai'i. I had them in a pie and in rolls. Paired with the lavender hued Hannalei poi, they made for a pretty dish of my favorite color!


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