Healthy food for the holidays: Sweet potato casserole with fewer calories, carbs | SierraSun.com

Healthy food for the holidays: Sweet potato casserole with fewer calories, carbs

Special to the Sun-Bonanza

This delicious maple meringue topped sweet potato casserole is almost half the calories of its marshmallow-topped counterpart.

How many times have you said, "Well, it's the kids' favorite," when trying to justify serving the sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows? And your boys are 26 and 31 respectively and are going to be with their wives' families for Thanksgiving.

Again. Yes, we all walk through life holding onto traditions which have transcended generations and this is never more apparent than during the holidays. This column is going to help you make the switch from "Great Grandma Vera's favorite recipe" to "I still fit into my favorite jeans and it's December 27th."

It offers healthy recipe variations to holiday "staples." Let's start with that sweet potato casserole. You really can have the full experience without the full calories and carbohydrates. The sweet potatoes themselves are great for you, a fantastic source fiber and loaded with vitamin A — it's the gooey candy topping that's the obvious no-no.

But such an important no-no right? You don't want to serve an everyday dish on a special occasion — it is called "special" for a reason. The answer here is to hold onto the festive casserole, but not the calories (and you will hold onto them. According to the wellness experts at Stanford University, the average person gains one pound over the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays and never loses it. See you in ten years…).

Following is a healthier version of your "kids" favorite sweet potato casserole. It will be received with the same guilty pleasure, but needlessly so. Your family won't know what hit them!

Sinless Sweet Potato Casserole with Maple Meringue

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Calories for 1/2 cup serving: 173 versus 300 for the marshmallow-topped counterpart.

Amount of walking laps around TDRPD Fitness Center's indoor track to burn off 1/22 cup serving: 20 for a man and 26 for a woman. Fewer laps if you up it to a run.

Ingredients for potato base:

5 medium-large sweet potatoes, baked at 400 degrees for one hour, cooled and peeled

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

3 tbls. butter, melted

Juice of one large orange

Zest of one large orange

1 and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. salt

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and butter bottom and sides of a 9×13 inch baking pan. Slice potatoes into 1/4-inch thick rounds and place in large bowl. Add all other ingredients to potato slices and mash until chunky. Spread mixture into baking pan and place in oven to warm/bake while making your topping.

Ingredients for topping:

5 egg whites

2/3 cup maple syrup

Dash of vanilla

Preparation:

In a double boiler (or a small pan filled with water and glass bowl on top) whip the egg whites in the glass bowl or top pan of your double boiler with a hand mixer until fluffy. Add syrup and vanilla and NOW turn on heat.

Use whisk to whip the egg whites and syrup mixture as it heats until it thickens to the consistency of melted marshmallows. This should take about fifteen minutes. Spread on top of your sweet potato casserole in oven and put it under the broiler for about 45 seconds (watch it) until brown.

This column comes courtesy of the Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District staff and fitness club members reminding us to eat responsibly during the holidays. For more information on how you can stay in shape during the winter months, visit tdrpd.org.