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  • Healthy Happy Holiday: Sweet Potato Spoon Bread

    Sunday, November 24, 2013

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    One of the most special things about Thanksgiving (aside from the spirited family time), is the array of foods that are usually only enjoyed on this one day a year.

    Which got me to thinking about the deeply-rooted food traditions around holidays. When’s the last time you roasted a whole turkey? Made green bean casserole? Baked a spicy, rich pumpkin pie? Had a rousing ‘discussion’ with family and friends over a glass of hot apple cider?

    There’s a reason so many of us put on a few pounds around the holidays (and it’s not just as a coping mechanism for (perhaps) a little too much family time). It’s because we have a scarcity mentality around so many of the yummy dishes we enjoy at this time of the year. I mean, of course you’re going to have seconds of your mom’s homemade bread stuffing! You won’t see the stuff again for another 364 days!

    So, I got to thinking. What are some recipes I can come up with that will feel special and indulgent without all of the fat, calories and blah-inducing side effects of classic Thanksgiving fare? Something that would be seconds worthy, without inflicting as much damage on the quest to eat healthier … 365 days a year.

    My mind wandered to those sticky-sweet (not even very tasty) candied sweet potatoes (or yams) that so many of us grew up with. You know the stuff, sweet potatoes cooked to the point of nearly being liquid, mashed and  topped with marshmallows, butter and cinnamon then baked in the oven. Is it a side dish, or is it dessert? …  or is it both??!!

    Kindred-Kitchen_Sweet Potato Spoon bread5

    Since Thanksgiving does call for something more special than simple mashed sweet potatoes, I perused some of my favorite classic holiday dishes and decided that a healthier version of a southern favorite was a good start.

    Hello sweet potato spoon bread. This cross between a corn bread and a souffle comes together quickly and looks beautiful as part of your holiday spread. How did I make this lighter? I reduced the number of eggs most recipes call for from 4 down to 2 yolks and 4 whites. I didn’t use the whole milk and/or cream that is often a staple in the traditional recipe…or butter. Finally, I upped the amount of sweet potato…because it’s just so yummy and good for you.

    The first time I served this dish, my guests clamored around, asking for the recipe as they shoveled spoonfuls into their mouths, making all of the wonderful mmmmm…sounds a home cook loves to hear! I dared not tell them it was a lighter healthier version. What they don’t know…

    Healthy Happy Holiday: Sweet Potato Spoon Bread

    servings: 8-10 as a side dish | time: about 60 minutes

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    1 1/2 cups water

    1 cup 1% milk

    1 cup medium grind  cornmeal (I like Bob’s Red Mill Organic)

    1/2 tsp nutmeg

    1 tsp. cinnamon

    1/2 tsp. allspice

    2 tsp. salt

    1/2 tsp. white pepper

    1/3 cup maple syrup

    1 1/2 cups puréed sweet potato (or, if you’re lucky enough to find it, 1 15 ounce can pure sweet potato purée (make sure to read the label … You want nothing but sweet potatoes). The key here is that they are puréed and not just mashed—the texture of finished dish is much lighter using the puree)

    2 egg yolks

    2 tsp baking powder

    4 egg whites, very cold


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a large souffle or baking dish with non-stick cooking spray, set aside

    1. Heat the water, milk, nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, salt and pepper in a large saucepan. When the mixture starts to bubble, add the cornmeal slowly, whisking the whole time

    2. Cook the polenta over medium low heat (it should be bubbling slightly), whisking constantly until the mixture starts to pull away from the sided of the pan, about 5 minutes

    3. Remove from heat, add the maple syrup, baking powder and sweet potato, blending until well incorporated and allow mixture to cool for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally

    4. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on high until stiff peaks form

    5. Add the egg yolks to the sweet potato / polenta mixture. Stir to combine

    6. Gently fold in the beaten egg whites until incorporated (don’t overdo this part, it’s OK if there are streaks of egg white in the final batter)

    7. Pour into prepared casserole and bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes (don’t start peeking until the 40 minute mark). Dish is ready when the sides have pulled away and the center is just set

    Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving


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