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A Healthier Way to Serve Potatoes this Thanksgiving

November 23, 2013

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As traditional as Thanksgiving dinner may be, everyone has a special dish that they serve year after year. Mine is Brussels sprouts with bacon; yours may be cranberry chutney or cheddar biscuits.  One dish that never seems to be missing from the Thanksgiving table (besides the bird, of course) is the potatoes. Mashed, scalloped, smashed, or baked, one way or another, we all serve them.

But all potatoes are not created equal. Some options are much healthier than others, and they could be a good alternative for your table this year!

Russet Potatoes

These are the traditional potatoes that we all know and love. You’ve probably peeled them, mashed them and served them topped with melted butter. Unfortunately, this isn’t the healthiest option. Russet potatoes are high in simple carbohydrates, which your body quickly turns into sugar. 

This year, try ditching half of the potatoes and stirring in some mashed turnips and parsnips instead. These vegetables are very high in vitamins – for example, parsnips are chock-full of fiber, potassium, and vitamin C, while turnips have a lot of calcium. Not only do they boost the nutrition, but they also add a deliciously spicy bite to your potatoes. One bite and this will be your new favorite way to serve mashed potatoes!

Red Potatoes

These little potatoes are perhaps less likely to make a Thanksgiving appearance. They are usually roasted whole and often accompany roasted chicken or steak through the year. If you’re a potato lover, then red potatoes are for you! They have that earthy, starchy, comforting taste that only potatoes have.

While you probably shouldn’t load your plate up with them, red potatoes do have some nutritional benefits. They are a good source of vitamin C and iron, which helps deliver oxygen to your tissues and supports blood cell function.  For a different approach to potatoes, try boiling red potatoes for about 10 minutes or until they are just soft enough to smash. Using a fork, or your palm, smash each potato flat, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and then bake for about 20 minutes or until the edges get crispy and brown.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes are a great option for Thanksgiving, although it is only distantly related to the potato. Sweet potatoes are actually root vegetables, and are an excellent source of beta-carotene, vitamin A, and potassium. They also are just sweet enough to satisfy your sugar cravings without over-doing it!

In my opinion, sweet potatoes are the star of the show at any meal, so they deserve to get really jazzed up for Thanksgiving! Gone are the days of mashed sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows and maple syrup. Play up the nutritional benefits instead of the sugar in your sweet potato dish by roasting them with fennel. This is how I will be serving my sweet potatoes this year:

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Fennel with Blue Cheese


  • ½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 large sweet potatoes, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 large fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 4  tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 ounces of semi hard blue cheese
  • 10 – 12 sage leaves


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400, and toss the walnuts with brown sugar and 1 tbsp water. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until water dissolves and nuts begin to brown.
  2. Toss sweet potatoes and fennel in a large bowl with 3 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Spread evenly on a baking dish and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until potatoes are easily pieced with a fork, and fennel is beginning to caramelize.
  4. While to potatoes bake, heat the remaining olive oil in a small pan, then add the sage. Fry until just crispy, then transfer to a paper towel to drain.
  5. Transfer the potatoes and fennel to a bowl and top with crumbled blue cheese, walnuts and sage before serving.

How are you serving potatoes this Thanksgiving?