Trim Thanksgiving: Sweet Potatoes


By: , SparkPeople Blogger

This is the first in a series of blog posts about how to slim down your Thanksgiving side dishes and treats. For more information about healthier Thanksgiving cooking, read this article.

The poor yam and sweet potato. These brightly colored and antioxidant-rich vegetables are naturally sweet, but their flavors are masked by loads of brown sugar and marshmallows on Thanksgiving.

Typical candied yams or sweet potatoes:
Serving size=3/4 cup (about the size of a baseball)
240 calories 7 g fat

Six ounces (3/4 cup) of sweet potatoes only have 180 calories (plus they're packed full of beta carotene, vitamin C and ), so the remaining 80 calories and all that fat usually come from sweeteners.

  • Use just a touch of honey or real maple syrup to accentuate the sweet potatoes.
  • Leave the marshmallows for s'mores and hot cocoa.
  • These recipes have a third of the fat and calories as the original.
  • Even sweet potato pie can be slimmed down to fewer than 150 calories a serving. (Try baking it without the crust to save 112 calories and 7.5 calories per slice.)
    How do you serve sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving? I'll be making sweet potato pie, for sure, but this sweet potato stir fry by Mark Bittman sounds good, too.

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  • 63
    I love sweet potatoes - bake them and add a litte cinnamon. Delicious. - 11/23/2008   7:52:09 PM
  • 62
    I LOVE the sweet potatoes!
    Not only do they taste good & have all that beta carotene but they also are a good source of potassium (for those of us dealing with high blood pressure issues). The trick it to eat them without all the other fattening ingredients. :)
    - 11/23/2008   6:27:12 PM
  • 61
    Your starting blog says that the added calories and fat come from sweeteners. Sorry, but fat doesn't come from sweeteners!
    That being said, I make the sweet potato casserole for our annual family reunion dinner: I start with canned candied yams, mashed with just a little of the syrup, a little pumpkin pie spice, a touch of butter, melted, and a little thawed orange or lime juice concentrate. Sometimes I stir in a few coarsely chopped pecans. I spread this mixture in a cakepan and top with marshmallows. Heat until the marshmallows are delicately browned. We are careful eaters, and don't eat this way often: once or twice a year it's fun to loosen up and splurge! Then we all go out for a walk after dinner. - 11/23/2008   6:09:48 PM
  • 60
    We boil them and mash them with a tiny bit of butter. - 11/23/2008   4:13:47 PM
  • 59
    Lord yes, I love sweet potatoes. I love to eat them raw. - 11/23/2008   4:10:43 PM
  • 58
    I also eat sweet potatoes almost every day, nothing added,. They are also very good for dogs in small portions - 11/23/2008   3:32:14 PM
  • 57
    I make a southern sweet potatoe casserole. For the last 2 years have used the splenda brown sugar for the topping, cut back on the sweet with splenda sugar in the potatoes and used eggbeaters and eggwhites instead of whole eggs. Family cannot tell the difference, and I know I've trimmed the calories by a lot. Now if only they'd make a non-fattening pecan, chuckle.(however have cut those back too) - 11/23/2008   3:20:03 PM
  • MKAYB1
    I enjoy sweet potatoes anytime; one of my fav ways to cook them is: wash them, slice an opening in them, pour some maple syrup in it, wrap it in foil & put in on the grill or in the oven. Ymmmmmm!! But I have read some other intersting ways here to fix them so now I can have more variety. - 11/23/2008   3:18:07 PM
  • 55
    I've just never developed a taste for sweet potatoes. It seems someone is always trying to get me to try their "special" recipe ... the old, "You haven't LIVED till you've had them the way I make them" story. I've tried them every time, mostly to be polite, and end up choading down one bite and passing on a full serving. We all have something we just don't like, and for me it's sweet potatoes, no matter how they are prepared. - 11/23/2008   2:13:41 PM
  • 54
    Sweet potatoes are a staple at my house. In New England we grew them at my family home and ate them all winter. Here in the South they are smaller but available most of the year. In the south they like them with extra sugar,fat and marshmallows added for their sweet potatoe "casserole" but I like my baked with a small amount of butter and cinnamon. They cook up beautifully in the microwave also. - 11/23/2008   1:01:03 PM
  • 53
    For those people who say they are cutting out sweet potatoes because they don't want any starch, a sweet potatoe or yam is NOT botanically related at all to a potatoe. Sweet potatoes and yams themselves are different plant species, with yams having less vitamins and moisture than sweet potatoes. The nutitional value of sweet potatoes make them a great substitute for regualr potatoes as a side dish - 11/23/2008   10:54:13 AM
  • 52
    I hate to admit, I've never been a big fan (and never have touched the gooy sweet marshmellow kind), but for thanksgiving this year, I'll be adding them to a medly of other "fall vegies" like butternut squash, leeks, carrots, parsnips, etc and oven roasting them in a little olive oil and fresh thyme. - 11/23/2008   10:41:40 AM
    We grew sweet potatoes in our garden this year for the first time. I LOVE them! I eat them baked with butter and a little brown sugar. So yummy! - 11/23/2008   10:25:00 AM
  • 50
    I love sweet potatoes and always have! I like them baked, sliced and roasted, and mashed. They were one of my son's favorite first foods. I finally got my hubby to like them too. He'll eat them mashed with a bit of milk, light butter, a bit of brown sugar, and a hit of pumpkin pie spice. Last time I made them I skipped adding any brown sugar and he didn't really notice! Yeah! We always have them on Thanksgiving. This year I am making Christmas dinner and I am planning on having them then also. I'll eat them in between too! - 11/23/2008   10:10:10 AM
  • 49
    I love sweet potatoes made many different ways. I've never been a big fan of the marshmallow kind though, even before Spark. My Thanksgiving and Christmas traditional sweet potato casserole is made with shredded sweet potatoes, crushed pineapple, milk, eggs, a little sugar or splenda, vanilla and a little butter. It could serve as a side or as dessert and it's not heavy like the syrupy, marshmallow kind. Over the years, I've added less and less sugar, switched to 1% milk, changed to pineapple in it's own juice, changed to low fat butter with canola oil, even lost the recipe and after frantically looking for it for hours, winged it and forgotten something a couple of times and my family still asks for it every year. - 11/23/2008   10:07:47 AM
  • 48
    Nothing wrong with a little brown sugar and butter on sweet potatoes. Add a little cinnamon and you're in heaven! - 11/23/2008   9:50:40 AM
  • 47
    I Love sweet potatoes and i don'r have to put any thing on them to enjoy them
    just bake it and eat it just like that, it good any which way, - 11/23/2008   9:18:44 AM
  • 46
    Are people aware that sweet potatoes are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat??? (Of course, without all the added calories.) - 11/23/2008   9:04:02 AM
  • 45
    After I bake and mash them, if I want them sweet, I add cinnamon, ginger and just a touch of cloves, then mix with crushed pineapple (juice packed, of course) and sometimes a sprinkle of raisins.
    Another favorite way to eat them is fried in a skillet dish - white potatoes, sweet potatoes, onion, garlic and choice of herbs. Hmm... maybe that's what I'll do for Thanksgiving! - although the troops might rebel at that. They'd rather have it for breakfast with an egg or two scrammbled in with it. - 11/23/2008   8:52:27 AM
    I'd be willing to try them again, but the one time I did try them I hated them. My Aunt served them mashed, no idea what she put in them. - 11/23/2008   8:41:59 AM
  • 43
    I'm with Amber51283 in that I can't stand sweet potatoes no matter how they're cooked. My mother made what she called "sweet potato custard" which is really a sweet potato pie and that's pretty much how they're cooked in this area. I'll eat persimmons or sardines before I'll touch a sweet potato! - 11/23/2008   8:26:48 AM
  • 42
    I like mine baked (on the grill preferably) with a small amount of low-fat sour cream and black pepper and chives. Yumm-o! - 11/23/2008   8:18:13 AM
  • 41
    I once found some pumpkin spice favored margarine made by Country Crock that was delicious on baked sweet potatoes, but I can no longer find it in any of the stores. I recently found a recipe on for maple roasted sweet potatoes that I am going to try, but I will be substituting sugar-free maple flavored syrup for the real thing because my hubby is diabetic. - 11/23/2008   8:10:20 AM
  • 40
    I like mine baked plain, but my family aren't big fans so I plan to try them roasted with a little honey. - 11/23/2008   7:49:42 AM
    If you want a really yummy sweet potatoe, wrap in tin foil and bake for one hour, taste like the one you get at one of those steak places, i think its outback, yum yum. omccoy - 11/23/2008   7:31:47 AM
  • 38
    I LOVE sweet potatoes.. They are the only ones I do eat.. I wash one really good bake it with the skin on it. Then when done I sprinkle some splenda on it with cinnamin & spray it with a butter no calorie flavor cooking spray & enjoy!!.. Oh SOO GOOD!! Skin & ALL!! - 11/23/2008   7:20:11 AM
    I'll eat them just about anyway. - 11/23/2008   6:49:27 AM
  • 36
    Favorite way to eat a sweet potato for me is baked with a little bit of margarine. Or, maybe, it is peeled, cut up, stirred in a little bit of olive oil, shaken in a bag with Parmesan cheese and Mrs. Dash and baked about 30 minutes. - 11/23/2008   4:25:22 AM
    Sweet Potatoes don't need sweetening at all! They are plenty sweet enough. Just a light brush of olive oil before they go into the oven to bake, plus a sprinkle of garlic powder. - 11/23/2008   2:45:36 AM
  • 34
    I love baking them and then add cinnamon (really yummy with this!) and a miniscule amount of margarine. Give it a try--you'll be hooked! - 11/23/2008   1:00:44 AM
  • 33
    I like my sweet potatoes with just a hint of salt and lots of pepper. They are sweet enough for me. - 11/23/2008   12:33:30 AM
  • 32
    I love them plain - 11/22/2008   10:41:21 PM
  • 31
    I looked longingly at them in the grocery store today. I decided we wouldn't have any starch side dishes at Thanksgiving meal this year. I'm a carboholic. I'm better off with them not in the house. - 11/22/2008   9:41:43 PM
  • 30
    I made the Mark Bittman recipe last week, and I didn't like it. I may have messed up the sage and garlic butter, but the flavors just didn't mesh for me. Ah well--back to the brown sugar. :) - 11/22/2008   9:40:09 PM
  • 29
    We eat Sweet Potatoes all the times as baked fries. We salt and pepper them and spray the pan with Pam Olive Oil before popping them in the oven. they always come out wonderful! We rarely eat them any other way. - 11/22/2008   9:09:13 PM
  • 28
    We like sweet potatoes year round. We microwave them, scoop out the insides and then mash with some skim milk and a little margarine. The kids and I think they are sweet enough without the brown sugar. If you like them sweeter you could always use the herb stevia. It is healthy, doesn't add calories, is natural and very potent, so only use a very small amount to start with. - 11/22/2008   9:04:22 PM
  • 27
    We just love to whip them with a little butter. Yummy!!!! - 11/22/2008   8:56:44 PM
  • 26
    I love yams! I microwave them as well as chop them up for steaming or stir fry. My favorite potato / potato-like root veggie (Yukon Gold potatoes are next in line). - 11/22/2008   8:43:07 PM
  • 25
    It's funny! My Mom & I were just talking today about having sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving. My sister & son don't like them & my husband only likes them if the have a pecan topping on them so my Mom & I do without them each Thanksgiving. But this year I might try a smaller dish for just her & me. - 11/22/2008   7:41:31 PM
  • 24
    I love yams baked with just a little butter. I am not into candied yams.

    LIsa - 11/22/2008   7:35:27 PM
  • 23
    I love sweet potatoes - baked whole, sliced and baked, in a custard, in a pie, etc. etc. etc.! - 11/22/2008   7:30:53 PM
  • 22
    Baked yams ~ nothing on them! Or sliced thing & spritzed with a bit of Olive oil, then baked. Yum.....think I'll have some for dinner!! - 11/22/2008   7:07:59 PM
  • 21
    I LIKE THEM PLAIN OR ANYWAY YOU FIX THEM---YUM - 11/22/2008   6:50:19 PM
  • 20
    VMF2004, I'm like you - I love sweet potatoes when they're served plain or as a savory dish. I never liked the ones with brown sugar and butter on top, and I don't care for sweet potato pie, either.

    My favorite method of serving sweet taters is to cut them into wedges, spray them with olive oil and sprinkle black and cayenne pepper (or I toss them into a bag with this mixture for a stronger flavor), and bake. Mmmm.... - 11/22/2008   6:38:37 PM
  • 19
    I know I'm weird, but I LOVE sweet potatoes just the way they are (I'm talking I have to buy sweet potatoes as costco I love them so much). I have always refused to eat them with sweet stuff on them, even as a little girl they couldn't get me near a sweet potato pie or candied sweet potatoes. They won't let me make the sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving because I would bake them in chunks with a little garlic and olive oil. - 11/22/2008   5:59:20 PM
  • 18
    Love bake sweet potatoes and I also put them on the grill and that brings out the natural sweetness of the sweet potato. - 11/22/2008   5:35:15 PM
  • 17
    My favorite way to eat sweet potatoes is baked (or microwave if short on time) and plain. Once in a while as a treat I put a dab of butter on them. YUM!! - 11/22/2008   4:56:20 PM
    i love sweet potatoes.....just the other day i bought one and baked it. i didn't add anything to it and it was still delicious! - 11/22/2008   4:29:48 PM
  • 15
    I LOVE sweet potatoe pie but I can't go without the crust. What would be the point? My mom loved to baked the sweet potato in the oven & once it was done put a pat of butter on & eat it. - 11/22/2008   4:07:42 PM
  • 14
    I like to peel sweet potatoes and cut them into chunks and then rub a little olive oil on my hands and then onto the potato chunks. I roast them in the oven at about 375 until they are soft and golden...Sometimes we cut them into long and thin strips for french fries...They are sweet enough just as they are. When I bake them I just add pepper. margarine or marshmallows needed. - 11/22/2008   3:56:04 PM

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