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Vibrant green Yam leaves are heart like in shape with a pointed tip. Leaves are veined with lengthy stems that are attached to the vines of the plant. Less bitter than most greens, Yam leaves are mild in flavor with a taste similar to that of Water spinach.
Yam leaves are available during the spring and summer months.
A member of the Convolvulaceae family, Yam leaves are a leafy green that grow on the yam or sweet potato plant, botanical name Ipomoea batatas. This herbaceous perennial is grown mainly for its tuberous roots, though both the leaves and flowers are edible as well. In the 1940’s scientists discovered that the wild yam plant, Dioscorea villosa contained a compound that could be converted into a natural progesterone. As a result wild yam became an important ingredient in one of the first oral contraceptives and till this day is still used in many brands of birth control pills.
Yam leaves are rich in vitamins A and C as well as riboflavin, fiber and iron. The leaves are also high in polyphenols, specifically anthocyanins and phenolic acids which are being studied for their ability to fight prostate cancer. To best preserve the nutritional content of Yam leaves eat raw or just slightly sautéed or steamed.
Yam leaves can be used in both raw and cooked preparations. They will work well in recipes where spinach or greens are called for. Add to salads, sautés, curries and stews. Most commonly the leaves are used in stir-fries and soups. Yam leaves are a popular ingredient in the traditional Korean dish of sautéed vegetables known as Namul. The flavor of Yam leaves pairs well with soy sauce, garlic, ginger, curry, sesame oil, onion and tomatoes.
Wild Yam leaves have long been used in Chinese medicine and by Native Americans for the treatment of diabetes, asthma, nausea and rheumatism. The Aztec and Mayan cultures also used it both as a food source and pain reliever. In the Philippines the leaves are recommended as a way to increase the nutritional content of baby food.
Yams are believed to have originated in Central and South America around 8000 BC, a time when the leaves of the plant were manly utilized for their medicinal purposes. Today yam leaves are most commonly used in African and Asian cuisines. Yams thrive in tropical and subtropical climates and do well in both sunny and shady growing conditions provided their soil is kept moist.
Recipes that include Yam Leaves. One is easiest, three is harder.
|The Slow Cook||Curried Okra Stew With Sweet Potato Leaves And Coconut Milk|
|80 Breakfasts||Ensaladang Talbos ng Kamote (Sweet Potato Leaves Salad)|
|Just. One. More. Bite.||Stir-fry yam leaves|
|The Bitten Word||Sautéed Sweet Potato Greens|