For the past few weeks, it’s been The Meal Makeover Moms versus Sweet Potato Fries. With the goal of including a sweet potato fry recipe in our new cookbook, we’ve been peeling and slicing sweet potatoes like there’s no tomorrow. After ten tries (I kid you not) we’re pretty close to coming up with a sweet potato fry our kids will happily eat!
Coincidentally, in the midst of all the sweet potato madness, I received a copy of Slim & Scrumptious: More Than 75 Delicious, Healthy Meals Your Family Will Love, a new cookbook by TODAY Show nutrition and health editor, Joy Bauer. I’ve known Joy for years (don’t ask me how we first met because I can’t remember) and was eager to review her book … especially after I spotted a photo of her crispy-looking Cinnamon-Sugar Sweet Potato Fries on the cover. Hmmm. What would my boys think of Joy’s sweet potato recipe?
The book features lots of healthy versions of kid favorites — AJs Mac-n-Cheezy, Sesame Chicken Tenders, Mediterranean Meatloaf, Pumpkin Pancakes, and Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies — as well as recipes for more adventurous palates: Garden Lentil Burgers, Cod and Lentils with Smoked Paprika Sofrito, and Creamy Curry Cauliflower Soup. I love the photos — they’re mouth watering to say the least, and I like the layout, the font size (I can read her recipes without having to wear my reading glasses!), and the nutrition information that follows each recipe. I decided to make two recipes from the book: the sweet potato fries and Joy’s Turkey Meatballs.
Cinnamon-Sugar Sweet Potato Fries
I always consider dinner a success when every last vegetable is consumed, and that’s exactly what happened when I made Joy’s sweet potato fries. Her technique yielded crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside fries … just what Josh and Simon love. They were easy to make (a sharp knife will come in handy when slicing the sweet potatoes) and the flavor combo of cinnamon and brown sugar was kid friendly all the way.
- 2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled
- 1/4 cup whole wheat or oat flour
- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
- 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 egg whites
1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Liberally coat a large baking sheet with oil spray. (The fries will be crispiest if baked directly on the baking sheet, without aluminum foil.)
2. Cut the sweet potatoes lenghtwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices; then cut each slice into 1/2-inch-wide strips to form fries.
3. Combine the flour, flaxseed, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a 1-gallon resealable plastic bag. Crumble the ingredients together with your fingers until they are evently dispersed.
4. Place the egg whites in a shallow dish and whisk until frothy. Dip the fries into the egg whites; then tap them on the edge of the dish to drain away any excess egg white.
5. Add all the fries to the plastic bag, seal, and shake vigorously to coat the fries evenly with the breading mixture. Delicately remove the fries from the bag and arrange them in a single layer, evenly spaced apart, on the prepared baking sheet. Mist with oil spray.
6. Bake for 15 minutes. Then turn the fries over and bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until crispy and browned. Let the fries cool slightly before serving to allow the coating to harden.
Joy’s Turkey Meatballs
Makes 4 Servings
My boys are spaghetti and meatball fans, and they gave this recipe two-thumbs! I used one jar of pasta sauce for the recipe and one whole egg instead of the two whites (I didn’t have the heart to throw out the super-nutritious yolks), and the dish came out moist and flavorful. I also used a small onion versus a medium since my kids tend to shy away from onions. I served the meatballs over whole grain blend spaghetti.
- Easy Marinara Sauce or 2 jars (26 oz each) store-bought marinara
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, finely chopped or grated
- 2 cloves garlic, minced, or 1⁄2 tsp garlic powder
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian herb blend (or 2 tsp dried basil plus 2 tsp dried oregano)
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 1/4 pounds ground turkey (at least 90% lean)
- 2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats
1. Prepare Easy Marinara Sauce or bring store-brought sauce to a gentle simmer in a 5-qt saucepan.
2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the onion, carrot, garlic, Parmesan, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and pepper flakes. Add the ground turkey, egg whites and oats. Mix thoroughly until the ingredients are well combined.
3. Shape the meat mixture into approximately 20 meatballs, about 1 1/2 inch in diameter. Carefully place all the meatballs in the marinara sauce. Do not stir; stirring will cause the meatballs to break apart. Don’t worry if some of the meatballs are not completely submerged in the sauce. Cover the pot and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
4. Remove the lid and gently stir the meatballs to thoroughly coat them with the sauce. Simmer, uncovered, for an additional 20 minutes.
I plan to make both recipes again, and I look forward to trying a few more — Buffalo Chicken Chili, Chicken Lettuce Wraps, and Double Chocolate Pancakes. As for our sweet potato fries, Janice and I are definitely suffering from sweet potato envy, so we’ll continue to tweak our recipe with the goal of creating something that meets our kids’ criteria of crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, and sweet all around.