Eating healthy and enjoying what you eat can be difficult if you’re on a specialized diet. The Korean sweet potato is a super nutritious diet food that can be easily help you on most type of diets because they’re so versatile and so simple to cook and eat. Here are 5 ways I’ve used them for many of my diets and why I think you should try them out for yourself!
Anyone who’s been on a restrictive diet like, Keto, Paleo, Whole 30 or even the SIBO semi-phasic diet like the one I’m on now, will probably find themselves frustrated by all the foods you can and can’t eat.
For instance, on the SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) bi-phasic diet that I’m on now, I have to cut out all breads and alliums like, garlic, onion and even legumes until my gut heals.
These diet restrictions have been fine to deal with but what I’m having issues with are the foods that I can eat.
Take, for instance, bell peppers which I can have in unlimited quantities on this SIBO diet. I certainly don’t hate bell peppers but I don’t like them enough to be eating them for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
I don’t know if you’ve ever felt this way about these elimination diets, but swapping out your usual foods for something so unusual can get pretty frustrating.
Yet, being Korean, I do know of one particular food that you can eat on most “diets” and enjoy without problems:
The Korean Sweet Potato
Yes, these potatoes don’t look like much but there’s so many ways you can use them to help you cut down on all your “bad” foods or to swap them out altogether.
In fact, if you’re starting your own elimination diet right now, you’re in luck because these Korean sweet potatoes are at their peak during Fall and winter season.
My pantry is always full of them because everyone in my family, even my picky kids, love them whether or not they’re on a diet.
Korean sweet potatoes, or “goguma” as they’re called in Korean, are not only delicious, they’re also nutritious and versatile; In fact, Koreans and Japanese have been incorporating these healthy superfood into their diets for centuries and here may be the reasons why.
The Wonderful Health Benefits of Korean Sweet Potatoes
Korean Sweet Potato Optimizes Healthy Gut
If you’ve ever been on a special diet to lose weight, you should know that it will be easier to do so if you have a healthy gut.
These Korean sweet potatoes are rich in both soluble and insoluble fiber that can help ease constipation AND prevent “leaky gut”.
Having a “ leaky gut” can sabotage your weight loss efforts since it can aggravate fatigue, poor digestion, vitamin deficiency, brain fog and lots and lots of autoimmune problems.
Korean Sweet Potatoes Can Lower Inflammation
Besides keeping your gut happy, Korean sweet potatoes can reduce the bodily inflammation which can thereby keep you healthy.
Compared to other orange flesh vegetables rich in beta carotene, like carrots, Korean sweet potatoes contain vitamins, like B6, B2 and essential minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium, that can help to repair muscle, strengthen bones and fend off harmful toxins.
One serving of Korean sweet potatoes will also provide you with a heaping dose of phytonutrients which can neutralize toxins in your body and help boost immunity.
Korean Potatoes Can Curb Your Sugar Craving
As I’ve mentioned in this post, 5 Korean Foods to Curb Your Sugar Cravings, gogumas are also great for satisfying your sweet tooth without sabotaging your diet.
Although they’re naturally sweet, even sweeter than the regular Northeastern varieties, the combination of fibers that I’ve mentioned above, helps to buffer the release of insulin making you feel full and satiated for longer periods.
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5 Simple Ways to Use Korean Sweet Potatoes in Your Diet
Besides being one of the healthiest foods I know, Korean Sweet potatoes are also one of the most versatile foods to cook, eat and enjoy.
Below, I share 5 of the most common ways that Koreans incorporate these humble potatoes into their daily diet regiment.
I guarantee that once you try them one way, you’ll want to try them in all sorts of ways–for breakfast, lunch or dinner or all three!
1. Baked/roasted Korean Sweet Potato (goguma gui)
In my opinion, those good old “chestnuts roasting in the open fire”, can’t hold a candle to a goguma being roasted in the open air.
One of my favorite foods I looked forward to eating every Fall and winter were these freshly roasted Korean sweet potatoes from street food vendors who made them in one of these gungoguma drum roasters:
Seeing the steam rise up as I broke into these roasted potatoes on a cold winter night, made me feel like I was wrapping myself up in my favorite blanket.
The comfort that memory brings me even now is indescribable…
Although baking these root veggies at home may not give you the same thrill, you can still enjoy the same taste by baking them in the oven or using a roasting pan or even a dutch oven if you have one.
To make them in the oven, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, rinse and lay 2-3 of these potatoes on it so that it lays without touching each other, and bake them at 375 for 35-45 minutes depending on their size.
If you’re in a hurry, like I always am in the mornings, you can pop them in the microwave and heat them using the potato function or on high for about 10-15 minutes.
Baking them, however, will make the peels come off more easily.
Whichever method you use, these goguma, which are naturally gluten free and low in sugar, can easily replace your usual gluten free bread or even your afternoon snacks.
I recommend that you eat them while they’re still warm or hot; Otherwise, if you let them cool too much, the moisture from the heat will make the insides too mushy and not as appetizing.
2. Korean Soy Braised Sweet Potatoes (goguma Jorim)
Another simple way to incorporate these goguma into your diet is to use them as a side dish, like this goguma jorim from Kimchi Mom.
Because the braising method imparts so much flavor to these potatoes, they pair well with grilled fish or with any mild flavored Korean soup like miyuk guk (seaweed soup), kong namul guk (soy bean sprout soup) or mu guk (radish soup).
If you’re gluten intolerant, swap out the soy sauce with Tamari, or use coconut aminos if you’re avoiding soy altogether.
Then add a bit of garlic, if you can tolerate it or use a garlic infused oil if not and add just a bit of sugar (I use coconut sugar) or even honey. Finish it with a drizzle of some sesame oil, and you can have amazingly mouthwatering and filing side dish that beats out plain old starches any day.
You can get a paleo friendly recipe of this dish from this cookbook, Korean Paleo, written by one of my favorite food bloggers, Jean Choi.
Or, if you’re not following any diets, you can try the recipe above and tweak it according to your own palate.
#3. Korean Sweet Potato Latte
I’ve never personally had one of these Korean sweet potato lattes when I was growing up in South Korea, but I hear that they’re all the rage now in Seoul.
I bet it tastes sort of like an Asian version of Starbuck’s infamous pumpkin spice latte (I used to OD on these). Yet, these Korean sweet potato lattes won’t mess up your diet with any of the unhealthy ingredients and the heavy load of sugar (50 grams!!!)–especially if you make them yourself.
I found this make-at-home recipe from blogger, Tara’s Multicultural Table. I’m dying to try this out once I enter into phase II of my SIBO diet.
I’m willing to bet that these goguma lattes are going to be an easy swap out for my pumpkin latte cravings or at the very least an alternative to my home made Green Tea Matcha Latte (Recipe coming soon!).
#4. Caramelized Korean Sweet Potatoes (goguma mattang)
Another favorite treat that brings back fond memories for me are these fried and carmelized Korean sweet potatoes called goguma mattang.
These sticky, gooey treats are THE perfect dessert after a salty, spicy Korean meal; The honey or sugar coating on top keeps the potatoes crunchy on the outside and moist and fluffy on the inside.
Even if you don’t eat Korean food, you can still swap out your usual flour based desserts like pies, cake or cookies and have these mattang instead–even if they call for sugar.
Also, if you swap out the white sugar for honey and coconut sugar, like this paleo version, you can still satisfy your craving for sweet desserts without wrecking your diet.
#5. Korean Stir Fried Sweet Potato Starch Glass noodles (Japchae)
Even if none of the variations I’ve mentioned above interest you, I bet I can entice you into trying this noodle version of the Korean sweet potato.
The name for these sweet potato noodles in Korean is dang myun, and these glass noodles soak up flavors like nothing else.
They’re most often used to make a traditional Korean dish called japchae, or added to meat broths, like galbitang (short rib soup) or gamja guk (potato soup), to give the soup more texture and body.
They’re even added to Korean meat dumplings (mandoo) as a filling.
I’ve used them in a variety of ways depending on what I’m in the mood for or how it fits in with my diet plan.
You’ll find that these noodles are certainly not as sweet as the baked or fried versions-in fact they really don’t have any distinct flavor all on their own.
But if you add them to soups or stir fry them with other veggies and flavorful proteins, or even tossed together with vegetables like soybean sprouts, these Korean sweet potato noodles can be a healthy alternative for those who are avoiding wheat and/or eggs.
I usually get mine from my local HMart, but they’re also available on Amazon.
Korean Sweet Potatoes Are The Ultimate Diet Food
Being on a diet, especially one that limits you to eating foods that you’d never eat if you weren’t on a diet, are often unsustainable.
However, if you can find a food item, like these Korean sweet potatoes, that are nutritious, tasty and versatile enough to incorporate into any diet, you have a diet food worth trying.
So if you’ve never tried these purple skinned, creamy fleshed Korean sweet potatoes, try some this Fall.
I guarantee that once you try them, you’ll never feel deprived on your diet even if you have to go gluten, dairy, soy and sugar free.
And since you can enjoy these Korean sweet potatoes in a variety of ways, you won’t feel frustrated that they’re on your can eat list.
Have a wonderful Fall season everyone!