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Happy November! I’m excited to usher in a new month with some rib-sticking food that’s comforting in cold weather but really good for us, too.
Have you ever made stuffed potatoes? My mom used to make killer stuffed potatoes (or some people call them twice-baked potatoes) with regular old russets. Of course, a potato needs a little jazzing up, which she did effortlessly. A knob of butter, a dollop of sour cream, some fragrant herbs and scallions, maybe a few bacon crumbles for good measure—all mashed together with the potatoes and re-stuffed into their crispy, salty skins. Can I get an amen?
Indulgent though they were, everyone in our family loved Mom’s twice-baked potatoes. She didn’t make them very often, but when she did it was a special treat that we all looked forward to. I wanted to create a healthier version of stuffed potatoes to enjoy this fall and winter, so I took a scan of my refrigerator and pantry and came up with these amazing Broccoli & Walnut Stuffed Sweet Potatoes.
Because I’m geeky like this, I’m now going to tell you all the reasons that these stuffed potatoes are healthy. Just here for the food? Fine by me. You have my permission to stop reading and scroll straight to the recipe.
But for the health geeks…
- Instead of white potatoes…sweet potatoes! This is a BIG step up, not just in nutrition but in flavor, too. Sweet potatoes offer loads of vitamin A, fiber, trace minerals, and antioxidants. Plus, their sweet flavor pairs really nicely with the dried cranberries and walnuts in this recipe. If there’s ever a healthy swap to make in your everyday cooking, let it be the sweet potato switch!
- No butter or sour cream. With the sweet flavor and creamy texture of the potatoes, you just don’t need dairy here. The flesh of sweet potatoes contains more moisture (water) than white potatoes (which contain more starch), so they aren’t dry and crumbly when you mash them.
- Broccoli and walnuts add extra nutrients and some chunky texture to the potatoes. Pairing highly nutritious vegetables like broccoli and sweet potatoes with a little healthy fat (like walnuts or olive oil) actually helps our bodies absorb and assimilate the nutrients more effectively. You’re a lot better off eating a plate of spinach lightly sauteed in coconut oil, for instance, than you are eating it steamed in water only. (It will taste way better, too.)
If you want the max nutrition benefit of these comforting potatoes, you must eat the skins! (I promise they’ll taste good since they’re rubbed with a little olive oil and salt.) Many of the nutrients in plants are concentrated in their skins and peels, so eat them whenever you can. This goes for carrots, potatoes, beets, pears, apples, even kiwis. This is one of the reasons I try to buy most of my produce organic, because I want to eat safe skins.
So what do you serve with a hearty baked sweet potato like this? Well, if I’m not that hungry these are filling enough to eat on their own. But they also pair well with a nice autumnal salad (maybe one like this from my friend Ali).
Meatless meals often revolve around beans, grains, or tofu. When I cook meatless, I prefer to let the vegetables take center stage. There’s so much you can do with fresh produce and a little creativity.
Broccoli & Walnut Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
Makes 5 stuffed potatoes
For the baked potatoes:
5 medium sweet potatoes (choose potatoes of equal shape and size)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt, to taste
For the stuffing:
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup broccoli florets, finely chopped
1/3 cup toasted walnuts, finely chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries (preferably fruit juice sweetened), roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange the potatoes in a large glass baking dish. Prick each potato a few times with the tip of a knife. Rub with the olive oil and salt to taste. Bake for 50-60 minutes until tender when pierced with a knife.
When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, carefully cut off a slice from the top of each to expose the flesh of the potato. With a small spoon, carefully scoop the potato flesh into a mixing bowl, taking care to leave behind a 1/3-1/2 inch thick potato “shell.” Baked sweet potatoes are more delicate than white potatoes, so work carefully.
Mash the coconut oil into the potato flesh. Stir in the broccoli, walnuts, dried cranberries, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Spoon the filling back into each potato shell, mounding it up as needed. (Can be prepared up to this point 1 day in advance. Cover and refrigerate. See below for freezing instructions.)
Cover the stuffed potatoes in the dish loosely with a piece of parchment paper. Return to the oven for 10-15 minutes to heat through.
To Freeze: Prepare the potatoes up through the point of stuffing. (Cool completely if they are still warm.) Place them in a freezer safe container in a single layer and cover tightly. Freeze for up to 2 weeks. To reheat, thaw the baking dish for 18-24 hours in the refrigerator. Bake, loosely covered with parchment paper, at 400 degrees F for 25-30 minutes until hot.