In season early winter: Yams

These funny-looking knobbly tubers may not be the most attractive vegetable, but don’t let that put you off — they taste great!


Brightly-coloured firm yams with no blemishes are best.


Refrigerate in a plastic bag.


Yams contain antioxidants — primarily carotenoids (yellow yams) and anthocyanins (red yams), as well as vitamin B6 (for optimal metabolism) and fibre, which is good for bowel health.


Yams are typically served as side dishes but they are impressively versatile. They should always be washed but do not peel.

  • Crisp sliced yams in stir-fries gives the dish a nice texture similar to water chestnuts.
  • Boil yams and prepare as you would mashed potatoes. Generously sprinkle with crispy, caramelised sliced onion and garlic.
  • Roast in the oven with manuka honey.
  • Pop a yam in the microwave for 50 seconds for an easy snack for toddlers.
  • Try a warming winter vegetarian curry using diced yam, pumpkin and kumara in place of meat.
  • Lightly cook yams in the microwave then stir-fry with sweet and sour flavours such as lime, orange and ginger.
  • Wrap yams in streaky bacon, and thread onto skewers. Bake until bacon is crispy and yam tender. Serve as an entrée on fresh bamboo skewers.
  • Add yams to your usual roasted vegetables for a different flavour, colour and texture.
  • Try Brazilian bean stew for a delicious meat-free meal with yams.

Did you know? In American cooking shows and books, the vegetables referred to as ‘yams’ are in fact sweet potatoes like orange kumara.

First published: Jun 2012

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