How to Make Healthy Mashed Potatoes Everyone Will Love

When you make healthy mashed potatoes, you don't have to give up the taste and creamy texture you love!

Mmmm, mashed potatoes

This yummy dish is good any time of the year, but we especially savor it during the holidays: You know—creamy, rich, mouthwatering mashed taters.

Potatoes on their own are filled with nutrients aplenty. “Potatoes are a nutrient-dense, complex carbohydrate vegetable,” says Kathy Siegel, MS, RDN, a nutrition consultant at Triad to Wellness Consulting and author of The 30-Minute Clean Eating Cookbook. “Potatoes are a good source of potassium, vitamin C, and fiber. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, which may limit the damaging effects of free radicals.” Read: Vitamin C can help your immunity and so many other things.

Potatoes also offer resistant starch, a carbohydrate that isn’t digestible. This is beneficial for many reasons. “This carbohydrate is fermented in the colon and provides fuel for good gut bacteria, acting as a prebiotic, which may aid in various digestive disorders,” says Siegel. “Resistant starch also may improve insulin sensitivity after meals.” In other words, resistant starch can help control your blood sugar levels, extremely beneficial for anyone with prediabetes or diabetes.

But what happens when you add butter, heavy cream, sour cream, and salt to those healthy potatoes? It’s not that butter-filled, salty mashed potatoes aren’t OK to eat—just not on a daily basis. And at holiday celebrations, there are often so many decadent foods around that it’s important to choose wisely.

While messing with mashed potatoes may seem like a dangerous idea, you can indeed cook up a healthy version without sacrificing flavor.

How to cook up healthy mashed potatoes

You can make oodles of swaps in your mashed potato ingredients list to make the side dish staple healthier. Instead of so much butter and sour cream, for instance, use creamy Greek yogurt. And if you’re worried about salt, try a salt substitute.

“I use a salt substitute that has decreased sodium and increased potassium,” says Devin Alexander, a celebrity chef who has maintained a 70-pound weight loss for decades and is sharing her nutritious mashed potato recipe below. “If you’re serving to people without blood pressure challenges, go ahead and use sea salt to taste.”

Mashed potatoes, per the USDA database, contain 211 calories per 3/4-cup serving, as well as 4 grams saturated fat. Recipes vary, of course. Some are super decadent, made with an entire stick of butter and almost a cup of heavy cream—these versions can up the calorie count considerably.

A 3/4-cup serving of Alexander’s recipe has just 165 calories and 1 gram saturated fat. It contains 421 milligrams sodium per serving—but just go lighter on the salt to decrease that amount. It also boasts 6 grams protein, thanks in large part to the Greek yogurt cream cheese. (Get more healthy alternatives to your favorite potato recipes.)

Making healthy garlic mashed potatoes

In Alexander’s recipe, she uses light-fleshed sweet potatoes—but says Idaho or russet potatoes can be substituted. “A lot of people don’t realize that there are tons of varieties of sweet potatoes,” she says. “Most people in America hear ‘sweet potato,’ and they think only of the ones type that are bright orange on the inside and brownish red on the outside. But there are many that have golden skins, purple skin, and white and purple flesh in various tones. I love to sub white sweet potatoes for white potatoes in recipes that would otherwise use white potatoes.”

Why the swap to sweet potatoes? You get more immunity-boosting vitamin C and more than triple the amount of blood-pressure-helping potassium.

Alexander’s recipe also contains roasted garlic. “The roasted garlic adds flavor that makes it nearly impossible to tell that they’re not traditional mashed potatoes,” she says. “It adds seasoning that not only lets you decrease the sodium content without decreasing decadence—but masks the other substitutes.”

And in Alexander’s healthy recipe, traditional heavy cream used in mashed potatoes is replaced with a Greek yogurt cream cheese. “It’s much, much lighter and makes the potatoes nice and creamy,” she says. Here’s her healthy mashed potato recipe for you to try.

healthy roasted garlic mashed potatoes recipeMichelle Pederson/Courtesy Devin Alexander

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Makes 4 (3/4-cup) servings

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds peeled light-skinned sweet potatoes, washed and cut into 1-inch cubes

1/4 cup Greek yogurt cream cheese (or light cream cheese)

1/4 cup fat-free milk

1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. roasted garlic

3/4 tsp. salt, or to taste

Directions:

Cook the potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 16-20 minutes. Meanwhile, place a medium saucepan half-filled with water over high heat. Bring the water to a boil.

Using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese on low speed until creamy in a medium mixing bowl. Beat in the milk until combined and creamy. Transfer the mixture to a heat-proof glass measuring cup. Reserve the bowl.

Turn the saucepan of boiling water down to a simmer. Carefully add the measuring cup mixture to the saucepan to warm the sauce. Drain the cooked potatoes and transfer them to the reserved bowl. Pour the cream cheese mixture over top along with the roasted garlic and salt. Beat on low until combined, leaving some lumps. Enjoy immediately.

Nutritional Facts (per serving):

165 calories, 6 g protein, 31 g carbohydrates, 4 g sugars, 2 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 trans fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 421 mg sodium

Sources

Amy Gorin, MS, RDN
Amy Gorin is a nationally recognized registered dietitian nutritionist in Stamford, CT. Specializing in plant-based eating, Amy has bylined 1,000-plus articles and also completed more than 1,000 interviews for top-tier outlets. Additionally, she has appeared on several national broadcast shows, including CBS Up to the Minute, CBS Power Up Your Health, NBC News, and the Associated Press. She is a former nutrition and health editor for Prevention, Health, Parents, American Baby, Weight Watchers Magazine, and WeightWatchers.com–and loves to share her media knowledge via the media-training course, Master the Media, that she co-runs to help other health professionals get their names in the news. Amy enjoys cooking and publishes healthy plant-based recipes on her blog, Amy's Eat List. She has contributed recipes to several books, including The Runner's World Vegetarian Cookbook, Runner's World Meals on the Run, The Runner's World Cookbook, and The MIND Diet. Amy also runs an Etsy shop, Plant-Based Eats, which delivers meal plans and nutrition printables to the masses.