Vote For A Healthier, Tastier Thanksgiving Sweet Potato Dish

In last week’s New York Times, Kim Severson wrote about a recipe originally created by Regina Charboneau called Sweet Potatoes With Cranberry-Jalapeño Chutney.  I decided I had to try this for two reasons: a) I recently learned my mother-in-law adores baked sweet potatoes, which are incredibly easy to prepare (and it’s always a good plan to get on the in-laws good side, no?) and 2) the description of this dish promised it was both easy and that it can be made a week ahead, key for Thanksgiving:

“This is an easy and surprisingly delicious way to get a dramatic-looking sweet-potato dish on the Thanksgiving table with little fuss…  Make the chutney up to two weeks ahead and keep it in the refrigerator. It also freezes well. Assembly on Thanksgiving is an easy last-minute task.”

So I made this last week and other than finding black currants (regular supermarkets seem to have only something called Zante currants – and they are not what you want, apparently, for this recipe), it was both easy and delicious.

Not only is this elegant, delicious recipe easy to prepare (and prepare ahead, key for Thanksgiving), it is a far healthier alternative to the traditional Sweet Potato Casserole with Marshmallows.

I entered both recipes into the My Fitness Pal Recipe Importer, and here is the not-at-all surprising result.

  • A half potato serving of Kim Severson’s Sweet Potatoes With Cranberry-Jalapeño Chutney – even WITH sour cream (which is not even needed, IMHO), is just 214 calories with 7 grams of fat, and it’s loaded with Vitamin A and C because it’s, um, a real food.
  • A serving of “Traditional Sweet Potato Casserole” (from packs 731 calories and 23 grams of fat!

Even if you ate an entire huge sweet potato with a huge amount of chutney (a double serving if you will), you’d still be at about HALF the calories and fat than the marshmallow casserole.  HALF.

Sweet Potato Nutritional Comparison

Luckily, I am not a fan of the Sweet Potato with Marshmallow dish so am not tempted (don’t talk to me about gravy though!)  But here’s an idea — this Thanksgiving, serve both. See if you can convert to a new healthier (and frankly tastier) sweet potato dish for Thanksgiving.

Three preparation tips:

  • Buy the red onion and peppers already diced.  I was thrilled to find in Stop & Shop one package that had red onion and 3 colors of bell peppers freshly,beautifully diced – it saved a ton of time, and I just ditched the yellow pepper portion.
  • This recipe makes a virtual VAT of chutney.  Halve the chutney recipe and you’ll have more than enough for 12 servings.  (Note: I adjusted the serving size in the nutritional value calculations.)
  • This chutney gels in the refrigerator – make sure to take it out hours ahead to get back to the proper chutney consistency.

For my Thanksgiving this year, since the marshmallow casserole is a ‘must’ I decided to have a contest – I’m going to ask everyone to vote for which sweet potato recipe is best, with the hope of a healthier new dish for our annual feast.

First, I assigned the task of bringing the traditional (fat-laden) Marshmallow Sweet Potato casserole to one of the people who insists it’s necessary. My plan is to serve that, and right next to it, feature the Kim Severson dish — and include the nutritional info for both right at the buffet table. Then we’ll have a taste-off. (We have a wildly competitive family – if they can vote, they’ll participate!)

Sound like fun? If you also want to have a contest, just click on the chart above and it’ll open a PDF that you can print – then you can just lay that out next to these two dishes at your Thanksgiving table this year, in the hopes of a new, healthier Thanksgiving tradition.


New Chart Helps Identify Heart Disease Risk

The National Lipid Association (NLA) recently released an ‘infographic’ that, according to the person who contacted me on behalf of the NLA, is intended “to help people better understand their cholesterol to help reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.”

And indeed, I think it’s a very useful chart.  Essentially, it helps you visualize your heart disease risk by turning the major risk factors into a series of easy questions; these questions help determine your heart disease risk and serve as a basis for discussion with your doctor:

NLA Infographic FINAL

You can also find this chart on the National Lipid Association’s “Learn Your Lipid” site.

As I wrote about in both The NEW Guidelines For Cholesterol-Lowering Statin Meds and also, New Cholesterol Guidelines – An App For That, when the American Heart Association published the new cholesterol guidelines in November 2013, there was a new focus on determining a person’s 10-year risk of heart disease rather than treating LDL (bad) cholesterol to a specific level.  In broad strokes the new guidelines state that if you are in one of the following four groups you have elevated heart disease risk and should take statins:

  1. those who already have cardiovascular disease
  2. anyone with LDL (bad) cholesterol of 190 mg/dL or higher
  3. anyone between 40 and 75 years of age who has Type 2 diabetes
  4. people between 40 and 75 who have an estimated 10-year risk of cardiovascular disease of 7.5 percent or higher.

What’s great about this NLA chart is that it works in tandem with the new guidelines – and helps people easily see if they are at risk. Net, this infographic quickly flags those who may fall into risk groups #2 or #4 above.

For example, for risk group #2, using the NLA infographic will ensure you know your total cholesterol – so you can see if LDL cholesterol is 190 mg/dL or higher and thus at risk.

And for risk group #4, the questions asked by the NLA infographic help you determine (without using a calculator!) if you might be at an elevated risk of heart disease.  That’s because the questions asked in the chart (if you smoke, are overweight, have diabetes and/or high blood pressure, etc) are the very factors that feed into the AHA’s 10-year risk calculator. (If this link doesn’t work, check my RESOURCES page for updates.)

So have a look at this chart and if you answer ‘yes’ to the items in step 1, make sure you have your total cholesterol checked and talk to your doctor about your heart disease risk.