Trocaire College’s Nutrition and Dietetics program recently completed a “Recipe Rehab” on a holiday classic.
Earlier in the year, Nutrition and Dietetics Program Director Nicole Klem asked faculty and staff to submit a favorite holiday recipe for her students to transform into a healthier version, just in time for the Christmas season. The winning submitted won a FitBit Flex fitness tracker.
“The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans emphasizes we need to reduce the amount of fat, sodium and added sugar we consume and increase our consumption of fiber,” Klem said. “When buying food we can check the label, but when using a recipe we may need to make some changes by substituting ingredients or changing the cooking technique. Just like you substitute when you are out of a certain ingredient, you can make changes in a recipe so it is healthier.”
The freshmen Nutrition and Dietetics students evaluated and made recommendations on the 16 recipes that were submitted. They chose Information Literacy Librarian Keri Thomas-Whiteside’s recipe for creamy and decadent sweet potato gratin to modify.
“We’ve been working all semester to scale down recipes for the home cook to tackle and that was our approach with Keri’s dish,” Klem said. “We decided to omit the roux and creaminess in favorite of a rustic sweet potato roast with a sweet and spicy pecan topping.”
Pecans and olive oil instead of butter and half and half add healthy fats (mono and polyunsaturated), and a pinch of cayenne brings all the flavors together, she said.
“After we prepared it, students were impressed by the similar flavor combination but marked improvement in nutrition,” Klem added. “Keri’s new sweet potato side dish contains fewer calories, fat and saturated fat grams, more fiber, less cholesterol and sodium. Because of the naturally starchy sweet potatoes, the carbohydrates did not change remarkably.”
The new dish is now suitable for anyone at your table following a gluten-free or vegetarian diet. Sweet potatoes are rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, fiber and potassium and are abundant. This dish could also be made with butternut squash slices, gouda or asiago cheese or walnuts as substitutions.
“I encourage others to consider simple modifications for traditional dishes that friends and family might love,” Klem said. “A lightened-up dish that harkens back to flavors that are celebrated can liven up a special occasion or become a regular go-to.”