Mashed Potatoes, Lightened Up

I love mashed potatoes—garlic-flavored, sweet potatoes or just the plain old delicious kind. But with a hefty calorie tag, I tend to only eat my own lightened versions. Find out how you can make healthier versions of this scrumptious side dish.

Frame 80

I love mashed potatoes -- garlic-flavored, sweet potatoes, chunky, skin-left-in or just the plain old creamy ones. Alas, most recipes call for tons of butter and that means loads of calories and fat. Thankfully, there are workarounds.

It All Adds Up

First, the bad news: a serving of traditional mashed potatoes can have up to 400 calories. Many calories come from the added butter and heavy cream. One tablespoon of stick butter contains 102 calories -- 64% of the calories are from fat. Many recipes use a whole stick for just 6 servings. Do the math -- you're really weighing down that side!

As for heavy cream, a tablespoon is 50 calories; 94% of those calories coming from fat. Traditional recipes call for about 1/2 cup of heavy cream -- that’s around 200 extra fat calories on top of the butter.

Easy Swaps

There are several routes to take to lower those calories and keep your potatoes moist. First, use less butter or a butter substitute. Try using half the amount of butter and choose whipped butter instead of stick. There are many low or no-calorie butter alternatives in your market.

You can also use low-sodium chicken (or veggie) broth. Not sure the ratio to try? Check out this Ellie Krieger recipe.

For the heavy cream, even moving to regular (whole) milk will cut the fat significantly. A 1/2 cup of whole milk contains 75 calories -- that’s a savings of 125 calories! Try going for the 1% milk and you will save even more -- each cup has around 105 calories.

You might also want to experiment with reduced-fat sour cream or cottage cheese to replace the milk. The ratios differ depending on how starchy your potatoes are and your texture preference, so follow recipes or test variations.

Bring On The Flavor

Add some personality to your potatoes with low-calorie herbs, spices and veggies. Chives, basil, onion and garlic really add a fresh kick (I’m making myself hungry!). Or sprinkle a touch of a strongly flavored cheese such as Parmesan or tangy goat cheese.

You can also swap the traditional russet potato for a Yukon gold or sweet potato (that's my favorite). Keep the potato skins on for some extra fiber. Doctor up mashed sweet potatoes with cinnamon and nutmeg or with a touch of orange zest. Replace some of the potato with root veggies. Or be adventurous and go for mashed cauliflower (yeah, yeah, we know, that's not mashed potatoes).

    Recipes to try:
    READ MORE:
TELL US: What's your secret to lighter mashed potatoes?
Keep Reading

Next Up

Scalloped Potatoes, Lightened Up

Most classic versions of this all-time favorite potato dish aren’t very figure-friendly, especially with boatloads of heavy cream and mounds of cheese. There are a few tricks to lighten things up—here’s how.

Dips, Lightened Up

Blue cheese, artichoke and other cheesy dips can sabotage your waistline before the main course begins. Lighten up these dips with a few tricks; they’ll still taste fantastic.

Lighten Up Your Meat

When you're making burgers, meatballs or other ground-meat dishes, combine equal parts of beef or pork with a leaner meat like turkey or chicken.

Stuffing, Lightened Up

Thanksgiving turkey would be lost without stuffing (or dressing) on the side. But sticks of butter and pounds of sausage are not mandatory ingredients. Here are a few ways to slim down this holiday favorite and some creative additions to try.

Eggplant Parmesan, Lightened Up

Growing up in an Italian family, eggplant “parm” was a staple in my house. While it was cheesy, fried and delicious, nowadays I’d rather cut back on some of the calories and fat with these tips and delicious recipes.

Nachos, Lightened Up

Every so often I get a big time craving for spicy, cheesy and crunchy nachos. But when most restaurant orders top 1500 calories and 100 grams of fat, I’d much rather make them myself. Use these tips to indulge wisely.

Burgers, Lightened Up

Spring and summer are prime time for burgers. Whether you like beef, poultry or veggies, there’s a burger out there for you. Here are some fresh ways to build a lighter (but still delicious) burger.

Tiramisu, Lightened Up

In honor of Italian week, we’re lightening up this all-time favorite dessert. Find out how you can enjoy this delectable classic without all the guilt.