Happy Monday! Whether or not you celebrated Easter yesterday, I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend.
For me, yesterday was full of family, food, and a baby gender reveal (which obviously translates into “Best Easter EVER”). My big brother and his wife, Callie, are expecting their first little one in September. Before we dug into brisket, bacon green beans, and the rest of our delicious Easter lunch, they unveiled that we’ll be welcoming a new little girl into our family later this year. I’m so flipping excited to meet Piper, my niece, and you best believe I’ll be teaching her how to cook as soon as she’s old enough to hang with her Aunt Mackenzie in the kitchen! If any of y’all are superstar aunts, give me your tips. :o) I have no idea how this goes, but I’m thrilled about it.
There’s been an underlying theme of being busy throughout my last few posts, and that tone definitely hasn’t changed in the last couple of weeks. Things are still crazy, and I feel like I’m only continuing to add more and more onto my plate. For some reason, it doesn’t stress me out like it was last month. I’m in more of a “lay it all on me and keep it coming” mindset, and I feel like I can take on whatever is thrown my way. Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten more efficient at cooking during the weekends, and I know I’m doing good things that help people. I know that my packed schedule directly translates to simplified healthy choices for multiple others, so I’m grateful for it. Maybe it’s because I’ve been kicking up my morning weight training sessions during the week and dialing back on the weekends to allow for more “relaxation time.” Whatever it is, I’m loving it, and my stress levels seem to have decreased significantly. The moral of this story: if you find ways to make time for what makes you happy and take everything one day at a time, your emotional state will definitely reap the benefits.
Another thing that has really made me happy over the last few weeks: I feel like I’m seeing “clean eating” everywhere these days. It’s in articles of newsletters that I subscribe to. It’s on the cover of cooking magazines in the grocery store checkout line. Seriously, it’s all over the place. Since the term is relatively vague (and kind of sounds like someone is telling you to eat a bar of soap), I’ve been trying to find a good definition of what it actually is since I started this blog. I’ve referenced a few different articles before, but one popped up in my inbox last week that is the most well-written post about clean eating that I’ve seen so far. Greatist knocked it out of the park with this one, and they even referenced “Eating Clean for Dummies” which I never knew existed. Awesome. If you have no idea what I mean by “80-85% clean,” read the article! It articulates the answer to “WTF is clean eating?” much better than I can.
Baked Sweet Potato Tater Tots
I get asked about recipes for side dishes pretty often. It can be hard to plan a meal that has enough protein, veggies, and a good complex carb, which is why so many people picture a healthy meal as chicken, asparagus, and boring old brown rice. I got tired of that a LONG time ago. Nobody wants to eat brown rice every single night.
I came up with these guys a couple of weeks ago and served them with my cleaned-up chicken strips for dinner. You guys know how much I adore sweet potatoes, so these were obviously a win in my eyes. Everything went in the oven at the same temperature for the same duration, making this meal’s cooking process super-simple. Assemble the tots and strips, throw them in the oven, steam a bag of veggies in the microwave and BOOM, dinner is served!
One thing to note: I tried about half of these WITH the Panko bread crumb crust and half without. I highly recommend using the crust with these. It adds a crunch that is more reminiscent of the fried version, and they’re way easier to flip over while cooking. (The non-crusted ones stuck to my foil, burned more easily, and essentially fell apart. Womp womp.)
Nutritional Overview (for 1/2 of recipe):
Serves: 2 (makes about 25-30 tots, depending on how big you roll them)
Cook time: 30 minutes
- 1 medium sweet potato (around 300g)
- 2 tbsp oat flour
- 1/2 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- Low-sodium Lawry’s seasoning salt, to taste (I used about 1.5 tsp)
- Crushed black pepper, to taste (I used about 1.5 tsp)
- 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper
- Cook your sweet potato. I usually do this one of two ways: either peel, dice, and boil it for about 10-15 minutes, or poke holes all over the whole potato with a fork, wrap it in a wet paper towel, then microwave for 8-10 minutes. (NOTE: If you go the microwave route, you can either leave the skin on when you proceed to step 2, or you can run the whole cooked potato under cool water. The skin should slide right off!)
- Mash the cooked sweet potato in a bowl with your oat flour, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper
- Using your hands, snag a dollup (~1-2 tbsp) of the sweet potato mixture and roll into 1-2″ chunks
- Squish the sides in to make a tater tot shape
- Drop the tots into your bread crumbs and roll them around to lightly coat each one
- Transfer to your lined baking sheet and spray with a light spritz of cooking spray
- Bake for 8-10 minutes, remove and flip, then bake for an additional 8-10 minutes
- Optional: serve with natural ketchup, barbeque sauce, or the avocado dipping sauce from my Sweet Potato Fries recipe