Holiday meals are the BEST! We pile our plates full of meat, veggies loaded with calories and sauces, candied nuts, and sugary fruit salads. We walk away with 2,500 calories of food that 364 days a year we wouldn’t dare eat. This year I flipped through a bunch of cook books looking for a healthy option to mashed potatoes loaded with gravy, butter, and sour cream.
Enter, twice baked sweet potatoes! Before we go any further, remember this: sweet potatoes are one of the best sources of vitamin A; a large one contains more than 100 percent of the daily recommended intake, according to the FDA. Vitamin A is an antioxidant powerhouse, and is linked to anti-aging benefits, cancer prevention, and the maintenance of good eyesight. North Carolina Sweet Potatoes website calls them a “Winter Super Food”.
My search ended when looking through the November 2015 issue of Food and Wine magazine where I found this recipe for twice baked sweet potatoes. The full set of ingredients follow below.
I started by baking six sweet potatoes for 40 minutes at 350.
The recipe calls for bacon so while they cook, I put six strips of bacon in a pan to cook. Honestly, I don’t think you need the bacon or the heavy cream – the extra fat and calories weren’t necessary for flavor.
I also substituted Earth Balance olive oil buttery spread for butter. One tablespoon of Earth Balance has 80 calories and 9 grams of fat (2 g saturated fat, 0 Trans fat). One tablespoon of butter has 102 calories and 12 grams of fat (7 g saturated fat). I also added some Trader Joe’s pecans to the mixture (1/2 cup) to give it some crunch.
After baking, I let the potatoes cool for a few minutes, then cut the top 1/3 off of the potato and spooned out the flesh and put in a bowl. I also put the top 1/3 in the bowl as well (the skin has so much goodness!).
To the bowl of sweet potatoes, I added the Earth Balance buttery spread, brown sugar, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. I stirred and spooned it back into the sweet potato shell. If you are using bacon, put a few cut pieces on the top of each sweet potato. Top it all with two-three large marshmallows cut in half and finish it with a sprinkle of dark brown sugar.
Bake for 3-5 minutes or until toasty brown.
Serve hot. Trust me – they will be gone before the stuffing and gravy!
6 slices of cooked bacon (don’t have to use!)
6 medium sweet potatoes
3 T butter (I used Earth Balance olive oil buttery spread)
1/2 cup heavy cream (I skipped this!)
3 T dark brown sugar, divided
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1/4 t black pepper
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup pecan halves (chopped) – optional!
6-8 large marshmallows
Why Travel, Cooking and DIY? A creative type, I have always loved painting and decorating as a hobby. Upcycling is a real passion. My mom was a Home Ec teacher when we were growing up. I learned a lot from her and because I love hosting get-togethers, I had to step up my game in the kitchen as well. And lastly, my love of travel comes from my Grandma Schmitt.
An Illinois native, I worked in the White House Communications Agency early in my career (President Reagan), prior to returning to Illinois State University to finish my undergraduate and Master's. After a couple of post-graduate internships (minor league baseball and Big Ten Conference), I then worked in college athletics full-time for more than 22 years -- first at the University of South Carolina for 15 years and then at Santa Clara University for the last seven years. We moved to Tampa, Florida in Dec., 2016 after spending 8.5 years in Northern California.