With just around 50 to 75 calories in a small spud, sweet potatoes are an excellent choice for a meal or snack. However, a tater’s toppings can take it from healthy to horrible in the blink of an eye. Choose from a variety of healthy alternatives to top your sweet potato, without sacrificing your waistline.
Skip the traditional sour cream -- which packs a hefty amount of calories and fat. Instead, use plain Greek yogurt. The taste and texture is surprisingly similar, yet it packs far fewer calories and fat and more calcium and protein. While a little sprinkle of cheese isn’t so sinful, topping the taters with too much will only leave you reaching for your elastic-waistband sweatpants. If you just can’t control yourself with the cheddar, consider using blue cheese or feta cheese -- the stronger flavor allows you to use less without sacrificing taste. Finally, rather than adding crunch with bacon bits, use toasted seeds or nuts to put the finishing touch on your spuds. Pine nuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are particularly pleasing on a sweet potato.
If you prefer a sweeter spud, understand that you’ll simply need to avoid the sugar if you’re trying to keep it healthy. Go ahead and drizzle a little honey or maple syrup on top -- but then store the sugary sweeteners far away from reach. Use pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and chopped pecans to finish the flavor. You might even add a dollop of ricotta cheese for a creamier texture.
A hearty, healthy chili topping turns your sweet potatoes into a satisfying meal, rather than just a simple side dish. Rather than loading your chili with red meat and high-sodium sauce, keep it simple and fresh. Mix ground turkey with diced tomatoes, kidney beans, black beans and corn and season with cumin, coriander and chili powder. If a little chili isn’t enough to tantalize your taste buds, add a small dollop of plain Greek yogurt or diced avocado for an extra boost of flavor.
With their subtle and slightly sweet flavor, sweet potatoes provide the perfect base for a bevy of veggies. Use asparagus, broccoli, green beans or carrots for a simple and straightforward dish. Or, give your spuds a spicy spin by topping them with bell peppers, chile peppers, corn and onions. Simply saute the veggies in a bit of olive oil and season with your favorite herbs before piling them onto your potato.
Krista Sheehan is a registered nurse and professional writer. She works in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and her previous nursing experience includes geriatrics, pulmonary disorders and home health care. Her professional writing works focus mainly on the subjects of physical health, fitness, nutrition and positive lifestyle changes.