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Mash it up smart this Thanksgiving

November 8, 2018

Rosemary Weaver, MPH, RDN, LDN, Clinical Dietitian, NCH Wellness Center

It’s hard to imagine the Thanksgiving dinner table without the staple of steamy and comforting mashed potatoes. Although potatoes are naturally low in fat and high in vitamin C and potassium, a one-cup serving of the old favorite, made with butter, whole milk and salt can set you back about 237 calories or more, with about 9 grams of fat (4.4 grams of saturated fat) and as much as 666 mg of sodium. And that’s without the turkey gravy.

Ready to lighten this up without sacrificing taste? Here are some ideas:

Consider the potato type

  • If you like them extra fluffy, choose brown, rough-skinned Russets. Like more flavor and delicate texture? Choose red or white potatoes.
  • For more fiber, scrub them well and consider mashing the red or white potatoes including the skins.
  • Sweet potatoes are terrific mashed and they have the benefit of added beta-carotene (Vitamin A).

Consider add-ins and swap out for healthier choices

  • Substitute skim milk, low-fat Greek yogurt, light cream cheese/33% less fat Neufchatel cheese or fat-free sour cream for whole milk or cream.
  • Eliminate butter or use half as much. Other options: low-fat, reduced salt chicken broth (or vegan veggie broth). For more heart-healthy fat, substitute ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil or garlic-flavored olive oil to two pounds of potatoes.
  • To make your own roasted garlic mashed potatoes, cut two heads of garlic in half, brush with olive oil and roast in an 8- or 9-inch-square pan at 350 degrees until browned. Cool slightly and then squeeze cloves from peel. Add to cooked potatoes and mash.
  • Consider the addition of fresh herbs, chopped: parsley, cilantro, dill, rosemary or chives.
  • To make an onion-flavored mash, add 1 cup minced fresh green onion to the milk or broth mixture and heat to steaming before mashing into potatoes.

Go easy on the salt

  • Eliminate the salt or use only ½ tsp per entire recipe.
  • Add some fresh ground black pepper, white pepper or add some roasted and chopped mild chili peppers or use herbs as mentioned above.

Here’s a simple but terrific recipe:

Mashed Potatoes with Pumpkin (serves 6)

1 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered
1 lb. canned pumpkin
1 cup fat-free sour cream
Fresh ground nutmeg
Fresh rosemary/parsley garnish

Place potatoes in a pot and fill with cold water to cover them. Bring water to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium-low and simmer 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Drain potatoes and transfer to a large bowl. Immediately mash potatoes with 1 lb. canned pumpkin and mix in sour cream. Add an optional sprinkle of ground nutmeg and garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary or parsley.

Nutrition information per serving: Calories, 149; Carbohydrates, 33.5 gm; Protein, 3.7 gm; Fat, 0 gm; Sodium, 35 mg.