Sweet Potato Fries

I am super slow in posting.  I have been busy being putting my feet up to rest from twisting my ankle playing volleyball.  Sadly it was not during some game winning play that makes for a great story or made the pain worth it.  I simply landed wrong after hitting the ball in the net.  At least we did end up winning the game so it wasn’t totally worthless.

I have been wanting to continue highlighting all the great foods in the 150 Top Healthiest Foods that I read on vacation.  The sweet potato is one of my favorite foods and main reason I look forward to fall.  Thanks to Costco though I can eat them pretty much year-round.

So what makes them so good for us?  One has over 700% of our daily recommended value for Vitamin A.  700%!!!  Crazy. Vitamin A promotes eyesight and helps us see in the dark; aids in the differentiation of cells of the skin (lining the outside of the body) and mucous membranes (linings inside of the body); helps the body fight off infection and sustain the immune system; and, supports growth and remodeling of bone. In addition, dietary vitamin A, in the form of beta carotene (an antioxidant), may help reduce your risk for certain cancers.

Then there are the 4 grams of protein (who knew), the 7 grams of fiber, and the 65% of daily Vitamin C.  Failing to get enough vitamin C causes inflammation of the gums, scaly skin, nosebleed, painful joints and other problems associated with scurvy, and we all know what failure to get enough fiber can lead to….

One of our favorite ways to cook them is to make an oven baked fry.  I have been trying for years to figure out how to get them crispier without sacrificing health, when I came across a trick in Clean Eating that I finally had time to try.  I was disappointed to find the results not any crispier than the quicker, more traditional method.  But perhaps it was user error, so feel free to try either and let me know if you get that crispiness.  Or if you have an even better method that works, please let me know!!!

Crispy Baked Sweet Potato Fries 

Ingredients

For Fries
2 medium sweet potatoes or yams
1 egg white
sea salt to taste
herbs or spices to taste (I used smoked paprika but garlic and cilantro or basil would be delicious) \

Directions

1. Peel the potatoes and cut into strips or wedges with even thickness (you choose on how thick you want, just make sure the thickness is the same to ensure even cooking). Soak in a bowl of cold water for 30 minutes to allow all starch to be removed. Drain and pat completely dry (you don’t want excess moisture!!). Meanwhile prepare dipping sauce (if using). In a small bowl, add all ingredients and set in fridge for flavors to meld.
2. Preheat oven to 425 F (convection is best*). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. In a large bowl, add egg white and beat until slightly foamy. Add potatoes, salt and choice of herbs/spices to taste. Toss to coat.
4. Spread potato slices onto baking sheet and make sure they do not overlap and are not crowded or touching.
5. Bake for 15 minutes. Take out  and flip the fries over and return to oven for another 15 minutes or until cooked through. The thinner the fry, the shorter the time, so keep an eye on them! Reduce heat to 200F and let the fries dry for another 15-20 minutes.

*If you do not have a convection oven, occasionally vent the oven the allow the steam to escape. This will help crisp up the fries more.

The Best Use for Strawberries?

Typically I am not a big fan of chain restaurants.  I picked that snobbery up while living in Seattle, where it always seemed you could go out every night and never go to the same place twice.  You want Chinese?  Got it.  Thai?  No problem.  Sit on the floor for some Moroccan?  Sure, and it comes with a side of belly dancers too.  Ethiopian?  Russian?  Brazilian?  Check, check check.  Yet, with all of that, I still can’t overcome my love of the Cheesecake Factory.  I hate it.  It is always crowded, the nutritional stats are off the charts ridiculously unhealthy, and now it is 45 minutes away.   Thank goodness for that!

According to their website, their Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake has been their #1 seller for 30 years.  No doubt because of its deliciousness, not for its 733 calories per slice and 32 grams of fat per slice!!!  That is why I got sick the time I tried to eat one by myself.  If you have the craving for a little cheesecake, Eating for Life has a super healthy, protein packed one.  You can see from it’s picture that it is definitely smaller than the piece from cheesecake, which of course makes it less calories, but I promise you won’t miss them!

Eating For Life – Strawberry Cheesecake

Ingredients

1 c. Low Fat Cottage Cheese
1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
3 Tbsp Splenda
12 oz Fat Free Cream Cheese, softened at room temp.
1 c. Egg Substitute
1 Keebler Ready Crust – Reduced Fat Graham Cracker Crust
1/2 c. Fat Free Sour Cream
2 tsp Splenda
1 c. Strawberries, sliced
Directions

Preheat oven to 350.

Spoon cottage cheese into blender and blend until smooth (about 30 seconds). Add vanilla extract & Splenda; blend for about 15 more seconds.

Add the softened cream cheese and blend for about 30 seconds, scraping down sides as needed. While blending, gradually add the egg substitute and continue to blend until smooth (about 45 seconds).

Pour cheese filling into Ready Crust and bake until set, about 35 minutes.

Remove cheesecake from oven and cool for about 15 minutes. Then, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Prior to serving, in a small mixing bowl, combine sour cream & 2 tsp of remaining Splenda.

Slice cheesecake into 8 portions, top with sliced strawberries and sour cream.

NUTRITION: Calories 208 / Fat 4 g / Carbs 24 / Protein 15 g / Fiber 2 g

 

If you are searching for something a little in between these two extremes of health and taste, I made Cooking Light’s version for my niece’s birthday to rave reviews.  I even substituted blended for one of the blocks of cream chese for a little extra protein (not include3d in nutrition info) and it still passed her picky standards!

Vanilla Cheesecake

Ingredients

  • Crust:
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • Filling:
  • 3 (8-ounce) blocks fat-free cream cheese, softened
  • 2 (8-ounce) blocks 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (8-ounce) carton fat-free sour cream
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°.

To prepare crust, combine first 3 ingredients, tossing with a fork. Add 2 teaspoons water; toss with a fork until moist and crumbly. Gently press mixture into bottom and 1 1/2 inches up sides of a 9-inch springform pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 5 minutes; cool on a wire rack.

Reduce oven temperature to 325°.

To prepare filling, beat cheeses with a mixer at high speed until smooth. Combine 1 cup sugar, flour, and salt, stirring with a whisk. Add to cheese mixture; beat well. Add sour cream; beat well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla extract. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean; stir seeds into cheese mixture, reserving bean halves.

Pour cheese mixture into prepared pan; bake at 325° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until cheesecake center barely moves when pan is touched. Remove cheesecake from oven; run a knife around outside edge. Cool to room temperature. Cover and chill at least 8 hours.

NUTRITION: Calories 324 / Fat 11 g / Carbs 43 / Protein 12 g / Fiber 1 g