One of the staples of the Thanksgiving table is sweet potatoes, in one form or another. This versatile vegetable can be prepared in a number of ways for you to enjoy with your Thanksgiving dinner. There is the traditional casserole, a hyper-sweet concoction made with brown sugar, marshmallows, and occasionally pecans. It is delicious, without a doubt, but it definitely doesn’t count as the healthiest thing on the table, and the calorie count? Well, let’s not even go there. Let’s just say that if you only ate sweet potato casserole, and nothing else on Thanksgiving; it would still be too much!
But don’t start crying in your gravy and mashed potatoes just yet, over the years, I have perfected a delicious way to serve sweet potatoes that will not send you into a sugary tailspin. After all, there are so many delicious things to eat on Thanksgiving, why not have one dish that is both delicious, and reasonably healthy? After all, sweet potatoes are chock-full of things that are good for you. Don’t believe me? Check this out:
According to nutritionists at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the single most important dietary change for most people, including children, would be to replace fatty foods with foods rich in complex carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes.
CSPI ranked the sweet potato number one in nutrition of all vegetables. With a score of 184, the sweet potato outscored the next highest vegetable by more than 100 points. Points were given for content of dietary fiber, naturally occurring sugars and complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins A and C, iron and calcium. Points were deducted for fat content (especially saturated fat), sodium, cholesterol, added refined sugars and caffeine. The higher the score, the more nutritious the food
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, Washington D.C. copyright 1992
So without further ado, let’s get to the recipe!
- 3 lbs. sweet potatoes
- 1/2 stick butter (not margarine)
- 1/4 c. whole milk or half-and-half
- 1/3 c. light brown sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. cinnamon (to taste)
- pinch nutmeg
Peel and cut sweet potatoes into 1 inch chunks. In a dutch oven, or large saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 15-20 minutes, until tender (check tenderness with a fork – it should slide through the potato easily.) Drain sweet potatoes in a colander, and return to the dutch oven. Add butter, and brown sugar, and let stand on the stove for five minutes. Add milk and vanilla, and using a stick blender (or hand mixer) puree the sweet potatoes until they are a creamy consistency. Add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Taste as you go, and feel free to boost the cinnamon, or nutmeg if you like. And don’t forget the salt. I know it seems odd to add salt to a sweet dish, but salt is also a flavor enhancer and you will be amazed at the layers of flavor that using just a bit of salt, will bring out in this dish!.
This dish is easy and delicious, and has become a tradition in our home at Thanksgiving (and usually at least once a month, for the rest of the year.) This is a great way to get all of the good nutrition from the sweet potatoes, without all of the guilt from those high-calorie, super-sweet traditional recipes! If you are going to have guilt over anything on Thanksgiving, it should be over the three slices of pie you ate, and not something that you are supposed to be eating anyway! Happy Turkey Day!