The Reader: Rose Shorter, Salt Lake City, physician
The Recipe: Sweet Potato Casserole
The Story: Shorter never liked sweet potatoes, but she became a fan after tasting a casserole of buttery mashed sweet potatoes with a sugary pecan crust. A fellow member of her Working Mothers supper club brought the dish to a meeting and gave Shorter the recipe. Since she encourages healthy eating habits among her patients, Shorter knew sweet potatoes offered healthful nutrients, but she felt “the benefits of eating them were lost in the number of calories and saturated fat in this recipe.” So she turned to us to salvage it.
The Dilemma: The generous three-quarters cup butter, one cup pecans, and two cups sugar that made this casserole so addictive also contributed most of the 289 calories and 14 grams of fat in each serving. This included six saturated fat grams, more than one-third the daily amount allotted by the AHA for a 2,000-calorie diet.
The Solution: We reduced the butter to five tablespoons and the pecans by one-half. These changes alone trimmed nearly 50 calories and seven grams (2.6 grams saturated) of fat per serving. Since sweet potatoes have natural sugars, we removed more than 1/2 cup of sugar (along with a few extra calories) from the recipe. We added low-fat evaporated milk to the mashed sweet potatoes to create a smooth, creamy texture. A little salt balanced the sweetness of the topping, and we broiled the dish briefly to enhance the pecans’ flavor and slightly caramelize the sugar for a nice crust.
The Feedback: “The women in my supper club, my husband, and I think the lightened version is superior,” Shorter reports. The sweet potatoes had a fluffier texture and their flavor was more pronounced, she says. Shorter is happy this revamped favorite can now stay on the menu.
Before | After
Calories per serving
289 | 258
14.2g | 9.2g
Percent of total calories
44 percent | 32 percent