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I've received countless emails over the past few days, thanks to Kevin Gianni's video (below) about the potato pancakes I made for he and Annmarie when they were visiting. In many of the emails you were thanking me for the free eBooks, but some of you had questions (and even some concerns) about sweet potatoes. I've answered you all individually, but I thought it might be a good idea to spend some time discussing the sweet potato a little more. Here's the vid, and then I'll include some of the questions I was asked:

  • Aren't orange sweet potatoes really yams
  • Are sweet potatoes bad for me if I have diabetes
  • Can I use yams in the potato pancake recipe instead of sweet potatoes
  • Aren't sweet potatoes high in carbs? Won't they make me gain weight
  • Can I use regular white potatoes instead of sweet potatoes in the recipe
  • Aren't raw potatoes bad for people

In all of my replies, I told you the truth. I don't know what makes a sweet potato different from a yam. They look similar to me. I know I'm buying and eating sweet potatoes, however, because they are labeled that way in the food co-op, where they sell both yams and sweet potatoes. They produce guys (brilliant guys) know there's a difference between the two, but I never stopped to ask them what it is. After all of your questions, however, I thought maybe it would be a good idea to educate myself.

So, I've done a tiny bit of research. There are definitely different colors of sweet potatoes. They can have white, red, brown, and even purple skin. The insides are white, yellow, orange, or PURPLE! I want to find a purple sweet potato! I've never seen one before. The ones I've been buying and using for the potato pancake recipe have been the red and white varieties. The orange sweet potatoes have more Vitamin A (beta carotene) than the lighter varieties.

My response to those asking about diabetes and sweet potatoes was that I haven't been experiencing sugar fluctuations after eating the potato pancakes, however it's important to be careful if you are eating something you don't normally eat--and follow your instinct on whether you think they'd be good for your body at this point, or not. Well, now that I've done a bit of research I've found out that sweet potatoes are actually wonderful for diabetics! They can lower insulin resistance and actually balance blood sugar levels. Wow!

As for the differences between sweet potatoes and yams, I'm still not 100% clear on how to tell the differences between the two just by looking at them. It turns out that yams are actually considered sweeter than sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes and yams aren't even closely related to each other, either. Yams usually have a dark brown skin, almost like the color of tree bark. However, some yam varieties are pinkish in color. I haven't tried it, but I'm thinking the potato pancake recipe will work with yams if you can't find sweet potatoes. Let me know if any of you try the substitution!

For the question about high carbs and weight gain, all I can tell you is that I've learned a lot about what does and doesn't cause a body to gain weight. In my own experience cooked foods caused me to gain weight. Even eating organic steamed veggies didn't help me lose the unhealthy weight I was carrying around. When I stopped cooking my foods, my extra weight disappeared. I don't see raw fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds as anything other than what they are: life-giving and life-sustaining food. They aren't carbs, proteins, or fats. They are packages of health and goodness. In my opinion we need to drop the whole carb/fat/protein obsession. Eat fresh, raw, organic foods and you will find your body responding in amazing ways -- that's what I found to be true for myself, anyway.

I don't advise using regular white potatoes in place of the sweet potatoes in the potato pancake recipe. You'll find that the taste of the final potato pancakes is quite authentic to the fried white-potato variety of potato pancakes you are used to eating. I don't advise eating raw white potatoes at all. When I was eating a lot of cooked foods, I used to enjoy a slice of raw white potato as I was preparing foods. However, after a year of eating 100% raw, I tried a small bite of a raw white potato again. It tasted horrible to me and my mouth felt really strange, while my throat started to close up some and I couldn't stop coughing for a long time. To me, I have found that white potatoes are not to be considered a food. Maybe it's different for others, but for me to have such a strong reaction made me think that maybe they aren't good for most people.

===========What's Asafoetida ?==========

Many of you asked about the spice, asafoetida, that was listed as an ingredient for the potato pancake recipe. I chose that spice because it's similar to garlic and onions, but mostly because it is wonderful for assisting with digestion. After my first try at making the potato pancakes, I realized they were quite heavy in my tummy for a long time. So, I knew I needed to add a spice to aid in digestion. The second time I worked on the recipe, I added asafoetida and my tummy felt better, but not great. The third time I worked on the recipe, I increased the amount of asafoetida and I felt great after eating them.

Digestive spices are wonderful and I recommend experimenting with them in any heavy-sitting foods that you are creating. I've been learning about spices and herbs for years and have been drawn to the spices traditionally used in Indian cuisine. Asafoetida is often used in many Indian dishes, so I have become quite comfortable using it. If you purchase it, be careful to start off with small quantities of it. It can be quite strong if you aren't used to it. Also, make sure you don't purchase the compounded variety like I did once--the asafoetida is mixed with different flours (wheat, rice) to cut the strong odor and taste of the asafoetida.

For a substitute in the recipe, you can possibly try some dried onions that have been powdered. Or, you could leave it out altogether. Just remember that you don't have the added digestive aid and you may end up with a bit of a tummy ache if you eat too many of them (and, trust me, they taste so good you'll find yourself eating too many of them!).

Original Comments

Below, we have included the original comments from this blog post. Additional comments may be made via Facebook, below.

On January 23, 2009, Michael wrote:

Haven't tried the pancakes yet but they sound incredible. Thanks for the asafoetida clarification. Your raw food ebook is refreshingly delicious.

On January 23, 2009, purejeevanblog wrote:

Wow, thanks for such a sweet comment, Michael!

Lots of love to you,


On January 23, 2009, George Maxwell wrote:

I looked up on the internet. i found that there are different types of sweet potatoes. some are called yams. Different parts of the country a sweet potatoe is called a yam.You should figure out which ones you like and don't worry about the name calling.

On January 23, 2009, iamsuz wrote:

I also use "Hing" (asafoetida) in my recipes and I LOVE it. It works wonders on digestion and the flavor is so close to garlic and onion, i hardly miss using these ingredients.

I signed up for your newsletter, but I still dont know where to find this potato pancake recipe! Im eager to try it :):)

Can you help me out

Thanks - and looking forward to more of your wonderful entries.

On January 24, 2009, purejeevanblog wrote:


Yes, I usually call it "hing", since that's the name I learned for it a
long time ago. I used its other name, asafoetida, in the recipe so that
others could more easily find it. :-)

I hope you are enjoying the eBooks! The latke/potato pancake recipe should
be arriving within two days after signing up for the eBooks.

Lots of love to you,

Wendi Dee

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On January 24, 2009, Rene Oswald wrote:

Asafoetida is also known as Hing in most Indian markets. I have a friend from India who told me they make a paste of Hing and water and rub it on the abdomen or chest for a stomach ache or indigestion! Yams are also starchier and drier than sweet potatoes, therefore harder for some people to digest. I use sweet potatoes in many of the recipes in my book, "Transitioning to Living Cuisine".

On January 24, 2009, purejeevanblog wrote:

Thanks for your comment, Rene. Yes, there are all kinds of helpful ways to
use spices and herbs to aid the body in healing. That's why I love them so
much--well, that and they taste so yummy!

That's good to know that yams are starchier and harder to digest. Thanks
for sharing the info!

Lots of love to you,


On January 24, 2009, Janielle wrote:

I want to thank you for all the time you are taking in creating and updating your site to keep us informed. I love Kevin Gianni's site too. All the recipes on your site are amazing. I have been 99% raw for 4 years. I have been using rolled oats in a cookie recipe and I also use maple syrup sometimes and honey. I signed up several of my vegan friends to your site and hope they will be able to be incouraged to use more raw foods. By the way, I am 58 years old and have had 9 children. Thanks again.

On January 24, 2009, purejeevanblog wrote:


You are very welcome! I'm so happy you found us--and that you are
referring friends. Together we can all encourage each other to be all that
we desire in this world! Life is so beautiful!!

Nine children ! That's a lot of loving arms to wrap around their mama! I
love children!

I look forward to reading your comments in the future, too.

Lots of love to you,


On January 24, 2009, earthmother wrote:

Well, I finally had some free time this morning and sat down with your recipe ebook. HOLY GUACAMOLE GIRLFRIEND! You have outdone yourself Wendi Dee! Not only is the presentation beautiful, but the variety is truly amazing.

I feel so blessed to have received this free gift. Thank you. May your generosity come back to you tenfold.


On January 25, 2009, purejeevanblog wrote:

Thanks, Earthmother!

We've received hundreds of emails from people who realize all that we put
into those free eBooks. It feels great to be thanked and appreciated for
all that we are doing for the raw and living foods community. :-) It's all
a labor of love for us. I'm happy you were so pleased with it!!

Lots of love to you,


On January 25, 2009, Barbara wrote:

Hi there!
I just today downloaded the two ebooks that you provided. They are wonderful and I am eager to try out the yummy recipes. Thanks so much! Can't wait to get the sweet potato recipe as well.
Had to send a comment as well thanking you for the info on the asafoetida. I just yesterday came back from visiting friends in Bangalore and while there, they shared tips on making dahl that tastes authentic. One of the key ingredients, I'm told is asafoetida! They even took me to a grocery store before we left because they wanted to make sure I had some to take home. Very funny that I was just introduced to this spice a couple days ago and then you have info on it the next day when I arrive home to the states (meant to be!). I am transitioning to raw and the only type of food that I still eat cooked is vegetarian Indian cuisine. Very excited that I can find a way to continue using the asafoetida in raw dishes.
Also really appreciate the inspiration that your family is. Thanks for all you do!!

On January 25, 2009, purejeevanblog wrote:


You were definitely meant to have asafoetida in your life right now, it
seems!! Enjoy it! In the future, I'll be sharing all kinds of recipes that
include Indian spices. That won't be right away, however, because of all
the other projects we're working on.

Thank you for the comment and for appreciating all that we are doing. It
means a lot to us when we hear from those who visit our sites.

Lots of love to you!


On January 25, 2009, books wrote:

Hi Wendy, I can't open up the pdf for the ice cream anybody else having a problem with the link from the email? :( The potato cake recipe and thanks for your help...

On January 25, 2009, purejeevanblog wrote:

Hi there, Books. I'm sorry you are having a problem. Please send me an
email about this, if you haven't already done so, and I'll have Jim look
into it tomorrow. We're busy this weekend, but I'll make sure he helps you
out tomorrow if he doesn't find time this evening.

Thanks for visiting our site and signing up for the free eBooks!

Lots of love to you,


On January 25, 2009, Samantha Cook wrote:

Hi..............................I just made your yummy potato pancakes receipe and they are in the dehydrator as I am tying this!! I could only fine the compounded type of asafoetida so I did not buy it or use it. What is the difference between the compunded and the uncompunded ? I hope the ones I made are not to hard to digest. I will make sure not to eat to many................maybe one or two to start. I used to LOVE eating baked Yams or sweet potatos so I am eagerly looking forward to when these are done!!


On January 26, 2009, purejeevanblog wrote:

Samantha! I'm so thrilled that you have the potato pancakes in your
dehydrator!! I'm looking forward to hearing how they turned out for you
and what you thought!! :-)

The compunded asafoetida has fillers in it--wheat and rice flour, etc.--to
dilute the strong odor and flavor of the asafoetida.

I'm looking forward to hearing from you!

Lots of love to you,


On January 25, 2009, tinainthepink wrote:

Hi Ms Wendi!

I found the spice at MOMs (My Organic Market in the DC area) on Saturday - yeah! I was wondering what is was, and as I stood there staring at the spices (yep, I am a spice geek too), it popped out at me! I would love to know how to use it seems that garlic is not always my friend even though I adore it! Thanks for your guidance and awesome recipes ~ you guys rock!

Hugs, Tina

On January 26, 2009, purejeevanblog wrote:

Tina! I'm so happy you were able to find it! I look forward to hearing how
your potato pancakes turn out!

You can use asafoetida in place of garlic or onion (but in very tiny
quantities, since it's quite strong). I use it in other recipes that
aren't written down or ready to be shared. It's a wonderful spice--I'm
sure if you love spices you'll be finding clever ways to use it!

Lots of love to you,


On January 30, 2009, Aviva wrote:

Hello, I'm still looking for the recipe for the raw latkes you mentioned on Kevin Gianni's video. Please can you tell me where it is? Thankyou.