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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Healthy & Savory Mashed Potatoes

A big influence on my cooking and recipes has come from being raised in the south. Southern grits, coastal favorites and buttermilk biscuits are all a staple of my cuisine. If any of you have visited a restaurant that creates such heavenly soul foods as these, you'll know that unfastening your belt is just as traditional as the recipes handed down.

I love southern cuisine...the only thing I can't deal with is the giant calorie count that comes with it. I've made it a personal goal to create savory and filling meals with the same flavors momma used to make but with the calories cut in half.

Mashed potatoes were always served along some type of meat in my household as a child. That's how God intended it. My mother would use half a stick of butter, whole milk or heavy cream, lots of salt and pepper...I'm not going to lie, they were heavenly...but if I'm going to look halfway decent in a swimsuit this summer, that recipe just won't fly.

In steps olive oil and greek yogurt, you lovely creatures I adore. If you don't follow my instagram account (@littlehouseofchic and shame on you!) then you missed my spiel on olive oil and weight watching.

Olive oil is awesome (in moderation)! Dr. Oz has been preachin' olive oil for so many things...heck he even thinks we should put it on our cereal (umm.. yuck).  But the one thing most of us ladies don't realize is how using olive oil can pack on extra calories too. 1 tbsp (about the size of the pool of you hand shaped like a cup) is equivalent to 119 calories! and while yes, it has the "good" fat packed in, too much of a good thing can be bad thing. In steps olive oil spray. I love this stuff. It's healthier than traditional Pam and you still get all the benefits of olive oil without the high calorie count. When most people cook in their kitchen, they can coat everything in olive oil (this was me)... 2 tbsp on this veggie, 3 tbsp as a marinade, maybe half a cup to cook with on the grill...but what I didn't know was that I was unknowingly adding almost 600 calories to our meals...yikes! This spray has been a life-saver on watching how much we add to our food. Plus it's much more efficient to coat food and veggies.

So let's start with the basics: red potatoes contain less starch than other potatoes. When choosing which to use for your mashed dish, I'd go with red or russet potatoes. For this dish, I prefer to keep some of the skin on because it adds good texture and also looks very pretty when serving.

Before I boil them, I always dice them into large cubes. Many people boil them whole, but as a time saver I prefer them to be pre-cut.

Next, I cut the shallots. No need for a small dice, here ladies and gentlemen. These babies will cook down with the potatoes and have a very soft consistency so you won't get that awkward hard crunch when eating them. 

Add a bundle of thyme laced together by some cooking twine, your shallots and your potatoes to a pot of water. Bring to a boil. Cover your pot and turn the heat to medium-high and continue to cook until your potatoes are tender (about 10-15 minutes).

Follow by draining the water and removing the thyme bundle. 

Hint: I do not use a colander on this step...why? you'l lose a decent amount of your onion/shallot. Instead, using a oven mitt, drain the water with the lid of your pot and hold it over the sink until it's pretty-well drained.

Add your 8 oz greek yogurt, garlic, spray a squirt or two of olive oil, and add more thyme if you like. If you have an immersion blender, use it to blend the potatoes. Otherwise an electric hand mixer works, too. I try to keep my potatoes a little chunky to add texture, so I'll halfway blend a section here and there.

And you're done! Easy, simple, delicious and!

This recipe made 4-6 portions. Prep time: 5 minutes. Cook time: 20 minutes.

3 red potatoes
1 tbsp minced garlic
8 oz plain greek yogurt
Bertolli's spray olive oil
1/2 cup shallots or red onion
Bundle of fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

Peel potatoes living some skin exposed. Chop the potatoes into large cubes. Set aside. Take 2 shallots and chop them, not worrying to have the dice too small. Add potatoes, shallots and a bundle of thyme (strung using kitchen twine) into a large pot and cover the potatoes with water. Bring them to a boil for 1-2 minutes. Once boiling for 2 minutes, reduce the heat to medium-high heat and cover with a lid, leaving a small opening for some air. Cook potatoes until tender (about 10-15 minutes). Once the potatoes are soft (using a fork to test), drain the water using the lid of your pot and dispose of the thyme. Add greek yogurt, garlic, additional thyme (if you like), and olive oil to the mixture. Blend the potatoes with a hand mixer, leaving some spots a little chunky. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

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