Monday, February 22, 2016

Sweet Potato and Thyme Gratins

Sweet Potato and Thyme Gratins

Did you know that February is American Heart Month? Sure, we've indulged a bit with some Valentine's desserts but I actually look for ways to incorporate more heart healthy options most of the time. The big New Year's resolutions are fine and there is something empowering about new beginnings. But in the long run, I've always found that small changes along the way make the biggest impact.

Sweet Potato and Thyme Gratins
I'm not just talking about more salads and grains, although I love those. But I like taking a craving for one of those ooey gooey potato gratin dishes you get in a great steak house and turning it into something I can eat more often. I actually like using sweet potatoes for a few reasons. Not only are they healthier but they taste great and tend to soften up more quickly which is perfect for a layered gratin dish. To get a true gratin, though, you need to start with a base of white sauce. So that means butter and cream, right? Pfft! Hell no. I ditched the cream for low fat milk long ago but I still needed to find a good substitute for the high saturated fat butter. We all know, though, that butter is so delicious and really affects the taste of the whole dish so I wasn't willing to compromise.

I did a little research online and then went shopping for two spreads, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter and Smart Balance Dairy Free Butter Spread and tried them both. Just spread on a slice of bread I preferred the taste of the Smart Balance. It just tasted fresher, somehow. But the true test was in cooking the dish so I made it twice with both spreads and Smart Balance won again. I found that it blended properly with the flour to give me a smooth white sauce and I got that good gratin flavor I was after. With less saturated fat, no trans fat and no cholesterol, it passes the heart healthy test around here. Enjoy!

1 Clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
2 Tablespoons Smart Balance spread
2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 Cup low fat, low sodium chicken stock
1 1/2 Cups low fat milk
1/4 Cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Large sweet potatoes
1/4 Cup seasoned breadcrumbs, for topping
2 Tablespoons Smart Balance spread, melted, for topping
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Sweet Potato and Thyme Gratins
Add the minced garlic and 2 tablespoons of Smart Balance spread to a large skillet and saute for a minute so the garlic becomes translucent. Whisk in the flour until coated and then whisk in the chicken stock followed by the milk. Note that you can use vegetable stock or all milk if you prefer. Whisk in the cheese and thyme and continue cooking on medium low heat until the mixture thickens. Season with salt and pepper.

Wash the sweet potatoes but no need to peel them. Cut off the tips and use a mandoline to slice thinly. You can make this in one pan or 4 individual pans as I did. Layer a round of sweet potatoes followed by a spoonful of sauce and repeat until you've reached the top of the pan.

In a small bowl combine the breadcrumbs and melted Smart Balance spread then sprinkle evenly over each gratin dish. Bake for 40 - 45 minutes until the topping is a light golden brown.

Smart Balance buttery spreads support healthy cholesterol levels already in the normal range. Clinical research has proven that the right blend of fats may improve your cholesterol ratio when:
- At least 2/3 of your fat intake comes from these products or the Smart Balance Food Plan
- You limit total fat to about 30% of calories (65g per day)
- You limit saturated fat to 10% of calories (20g per day)
- You limit dietary cholesterol to average 300mg or less per day
- You avoid trans fat
- You exercise regularly
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Smart Balance®. The opinions and text are all mine.

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