12 Mashed Potato Makeovers

By , SparkPeople Blogger
As you start to plan your Thanksgiving menu, think about this historical tidbit: Sarah Josepha Hale, an influential 19th-century editor who also wrote "Mary Had a Little Lamb," is to thank for your traditional Thanksgiving meal. Not only did she pitch the idea of making Thanksgiving a national holiday to President Lincoln but she also suggested that home cooks make food that was popular at the time rather than what the Pilgrims and American Indians ate at their first feast.

While Hale's holiday stuck, her push for us to cook modern food faded. The roast poultry, stuffing/dressing, and yes mashed potatoes stuck around. Why? My guess is that it’s because we know what we like and most people, my dad especially do not like change.  I have news for my family (actually I may not tell them!) that I am taking a stand. I'm going to start with a mashed potato makeover.  I plan to swap out some of the traditional white potatoes with other tubers or vegetables that might boost fiber and add nutrients or flavor. 

Here's how you can make over your mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving Day or any other night they're on the menu.

The Secrets to Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Before you swap out let’s review some basic cooking techniques for perfect healthy basic mash.
  • Keep the skin on Russets, redskin potatoes or sweet potatoes for extra fiber.
  • Dry out the cooked potatoes and vegetables before adding the flavoring ingredients.  Once the potatoes are cooked, drain into a colander then put the ingredients back in the pot.  Set the heat to medium and cook to release any additional moisture.  Start mashing! Use a potato masher, ricer or fork for best results.
  • Use skim milk or fat-free evaporated milk instead of whole milk or cream in your mash , opt for vegetable stock for a dairy-free version.
  • No matter which liquid you choose, it should be warmed before adding to the mash.
  • Add a small amount of liquid at a time.

7 Veggies to Guest Star in Your Mashed Potatoes

  1. Cauliflower is my #1 go-to as a stand-in for some of the potatoes.  Not only is it the same color so most folks won't notice it's there, but it also has a mild flavor that blend well with potatoes. To cook, add to the potatoes five minutes into cooking time. Use equal amounts cauliflower and potatoes. Try these mashed cauliflower recipes!
  2. Parsnips are amazing when added into a mash.  Roast them separately, then mash together for a caramelized flavor and added color.  Use equal amounts parsnips and potatoes or go 100% and serve up roasted, mashed parsnips.
  3. Turnips work well in a mash and add a mild spicy flavor.  Add peeled turnips to the potato cooking water at the same time as the potatoes.  Use a 3:1 ratio of potatoes to turnips.
  4. Celery root also known as celeriac adds a lovely touch sweet delicate flavor to the potatoes.  The light color of the root does not affect the color of the white potato and take the same amount of time to cook.  Mix it up and try celeriac with sweet potatoes.  Try my Sweet Potato and Celery Root Mash!
  5. Rutabaga, although a little strong in flavor, does work well in a mash.  Add peeled rutabagas to the potato cooking water at the same time as the potatoes.  Use a 3:1 ratio of potatoes to rutabaga. Try Rutabega and Red Potato Puree.
  6. Sweet potatoes are a wonderful choice for fall since they complement so many spices used during the season--rosemary, cinnamon, sage, nutmeg.  You can even leave them unpeeled for a rustic look.  There's no need to add any butter since they pack in so much flavor, but you can add unsweetened applesauce or honey if you are looking for some additional sweetness.  Due to color and the great flavor go 100% sweet potato--leave the white potatoes in the pantry. You might like Maple-Mashed Sweet Potatoes.
  7. Butternut squash, like sweet potatoes, offers a sweet swap for your potato dishes. Try squash and parsnips for a flavor-packed side dish. Give this recipe a try: Mashed Butternut Squash Remix
Here's how these veggies measure up against potatoes:

Veggie (1 cup raw) Calories Carbs (g) Fiber (g)
Butternut squash 82 22 6
Cauliflower 25 5 3
Celery root 42 9 2
Parsnips 111 27 6
Potato 116 26 3
Rutabega 50 11 4
Sweet potato 140 32 4
Turnips 36 8 2

12 Ways to Add Flavor to Your Mashed Potatoes

Just because you change up the variety of the main ingredient don’t stop there.  Try adding flavor notes in the form of herbs, pureed vegetables, or cheese.  Check out my top flavor enhancers for a mash.
  1. Roasted garlic--load up on it. The sharp taste of garlic will be mellow and sweet.
  2. Sautéed leeks or caramelized onions
  3. Fresh thyme or chopped fresh rosemary
  4. Sage and a small amount of brown butter
  5. Fresh chives and Greek yogurt
  6. Cilantro
  7. Grated Parmesan or Manchego cheese
  8. Concentrated orange juice (simmer until it has reduced by half)
  9. Bacon and bacon grease--just one slice, crumbled
  10. A sprinkle of smoked paprika just before serving
  11. Nutritional yeast and light soy sauce (just a teaspoon) for the vegans
  12. Curry powder and light coconut milk (great with sweet potatoes)
So what do you say?  Are you going to make over your mashed potatoes this Thanksgiving or stick with your family favorite?

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ELRIDDICK 11/6/2019
Thanks for sharing Report
KHALIA2 11/3/2019
Thanks for these great ideas! Report
REDROBIN47 11/2/2019
Thanks for the helpful tips. Good timing with Thanksgiving right around the corner. Report
I didn't like the cauliflower addition, but turnips work great, also yukon golds are a better choice than russets. I always boil garlic with my vegetables. No reason to dry out the potatoes, that just means you will need more milk and fat. I add a little butter, milk, and a flavored spreadable cheese, like laughing cow, alouette, rondele, or boursin. They always turn out amazing. Even my mother, who doesn't like mashed potatoes, likes these. Report
I like leaving the skins on my mashed potatoes. I also take out some just for me to make with 2 T. fat free sour cream, add chives, garlic powder, & pepper. I add like a teaspoon of whipped butter & a tablespoon of 1% milk. This also makes 2 servings for me. I've gotten so I love these more than traditional mashed potatoes & I didn't think I EVER would. Some day I'm going to try the cauliflower idea. 1 serving shouldn't make me too bloaty. Report
I boil garlic with my potatoes and mash it all together, add some chives, a splash of butter and milk or broth, a dollop of sour cream and they are a favorite. They are so good you really have to watch portions!!
We eat alot of mashed turnips, sweet potatoes and butternut also! Try different combos. Easy to make a soup out of the leftovers also!! Report
I cut back on the milk and butter, stir in an egg yolk, transfer to an oven dish, and top with a cloud of breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Into the oven until it puffs up. That makes it look so special you don't scoop as much. Report
Great list of suggestions to add a bit of variety to my potato dish. Thanks Report
I remade my mom's original recipe years ago... instead of whole milk, butter and cream cheese I now use fat free 1/2 and 1/2 (just a splash), and fat free sour cream. You can add a bit of salt to taste -- that what the butter added anyway IMHO. Tastes like I remember, but without all the saturated fat. Report
I love my whipped sweet potatoes and my sweet potatoe casserole, much healthier without all of the sugar or butter.............also I love mash cauliflower as a side in lieu of white mashed potatoes....... Report
Definitely saved this list! Report
Sticking to the traditional mashed potatoes. Cream and butter - Yup! I have them two times per year. Once at Christmas and once at Thanksgiving. I will eat them and enjoy every last bite of my single serving. Report
Some great ideas here for another time, but will stick to the traditional for Thanksgiving. My husband has his own special recipe, and everyone says it is delicious. Report
Adding cauliflower to bulk up mashed potatoes tastes amazing! Especially with lots of garlic. Super yummy. Report
Not sure with my crew I would get away with mixing cauliflower with the potatoes, but perhaps I'll give it a shot one night. We always make mashed potatoes from real potatoes, and I leave the skin on. It's not only healthier, but it's much easier! I mix in 2 TBSP lowfat sour cream, 1 small pat of butter and skim-free milk with three 4-6 oz. potatoes. All the rich potato taste, 1/2 the calories! Report
Never knew about warming the liquid before adding to the mash. Beyond that, I would mention one thing -- be aware of the finish on the pan before mashing. It might be better to do the mashing in a bowl, especially if using a metal fork. Report
i make a mashed potatoes recipe that my great grandma taught me. my boyfriend loves them. he says ive spoiled him with real potatoes lol. his mom always used that instant fake crap while he was growing up. his mom also doesn't know how to cook all that well. now that hes living with me and hes tasted what real great cooking is he says ive spoiled him. now he doesnt like his moms cooking haha. Report
We always spend Thanksgiving with my in-laws, so I'll eat whatever she serves (we bring home made applesauce for our share) but we eat mashed turnips at home. I don't think they taste like mashed potatoes but they are very good--both mixed with potatoes or by themselves. My husband is allergic to potatoes though so at home we just have the turnips. Report
My Mom used to make a mashed carrots with turnip combo that was GREAT! Thanks for the reminder, I'm making it for myself this year! Report
It's hard to break old habits, but I tried the Caulitators recipe and while it doesn't taste like mashed potatoes to me, I like it for itself. Maybe I need to wean myself into a frankenpotato mix with cauliflower with gradually adding more and more cauliflower into the mix. Thanks for the comparison chart. Report
Love all thes Ideas - sounds tasty! Happy Thanksgiving EveryOne! :) Report