25 Tasty Ways to Top a Sweet Potato – Quick Ideas!

Wondering “what to do” when it’s meal time and a sweet potato plus a few minutes is all ‘ya got?  Get your finger off the panic button; I sharing 25 ways to top your ‘tater in 10 minutes or less that will squash your hunger in a wholesome, healthy way.

25 Fast and Flavorful Ways to Top a Sweet Potato - easy meal solutions for busy weeknight dinners.

The good news is that a sweet potato is a very nutritious base for your meal, packed with complex carbohydrates for sustaining energy and a mega dose of vitamin A , more than 400% RDA for a medium spud. Sweet potatoes are also an abundant source of other vitamins and minerals like potassium and dietary fiber. Tired of traditional orange sweet potatoes? Add a punch of unexpected color to dinner with a purple sweet potato! According to the USDA, these vibrant veggies have up to 4x the antioxidant powers of a regular white spud.

purple sweet potatoThe downside is that traditional “baking” or “roasting” a purple or orange sweet potato can take up to an hour. But again, don’t fret!  Use the microwave to fix up your sweet potato in a flash. Wash and dry your sweet potato and rub the outside with a dab of oil olive and season with salt. Use the tines of a fork or small paring knife to jab little holes all around to allow air to escape during the cooking process (and prevent a ‘tater explosion)!  Microwave cooking time varies widely depending on the size on the potato and power of your machine. I suggest starting with 4 minutes, setting your microwave to high. Turn the tuber halfway through and if still firm, continue to cook in 1 minute increments until soft and yielding.

All topping suggestions below start with a microwave “baked” sweet potato and are for one serving, but feel free to double, triple, quadruple or otherwise multiply for a crowd.

Plain Jane:  Fluff pulp of sweet potato, drizzle with 1 tablespoon quality olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.

Sloppy Joe:  Add ¼ pound cooked ground beef to ¼ cup tomato sauce, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, ½ teaspoon onion powder and dash of chili powder. Heat until warm and add to sweet potato.

French Onion: Sauté ½ sliced sweet onion in teaspoon of olive oil  6 to 8 minutes until caramelized, add splash of beef broth and stir until heated.  Add to sweet potato and top with shredded Gruyere cheese.

Honey Mustart & Scallion Sweet PotatoesHoney Mustard Sweet Potatoes: Whisk together 2 teaspoons each of Dijon mustard, honey, apple cider vinegar and drizzle on baked sweet potato. Sprinkle with chopped pecans.

BBQ Brisket & Beans:  Chop up a couple slices of leftover beef brisket and ½ cup cooked pinto beans.  Stir in 3 tablespoons of barbeque sauce. Heat mixture in microwave, pile on potato and top with pickles and sliced onions.

Chicken Verde Enchilada:  Add ½ cup shredded rotisserie chicken to 2-ounces drained diced green chiles (from can), ½ cup green enchilada sauce and ½ teaspoon ground cumin.  Heat mixture in microwave, spoon over sweet potato, and top with light sour cream.

Greens, Eggs & Ham: Add one teaspoon olive oil to skillet and sauté 1 cup fresh spinach and 2 ounces chopped cooked ham until wilted and warm. Transfer mixture to baked sweet potato. Add egg to skillet and poach or “fry” in baking spray sunny side up. Add egg on top of ham and greens mixture, season to taste.

Tuna Nicoise: Top baked sweet potato with 3 ounces canned albacore tuna, chopped olives, green beans, tomatoes and hard-boiled egg slices. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette.  

Sweet Bunny: Sauté ½ cup shredded carrots and ½ cup shredded parsnips with 1 tablespoon butter, teaspoon brown sugar and splash of orange juice.  Top with Greek yogurt and pea shoots.

Beef Chuck Wagon: Mix together 3 ounces shredded cooked beef (like chuck roast), ¼ cup thawed frozen corn, ¼ cup cooked beans, ¼ cup salsa and reheat in microwave until hot. Add to potato and top with cheddar cheese and jalapeno slices.

Cowboy Beef Brisket, Bean and Corn "Slop" on Sweet Potato makes a quick and healthy meal solution!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unique Greek:  Stir together ¼ cup cottage cheese with ¼ cup plain Greek Yogurt, adding a dash of garlic salt and splash of lemon juice to taste. Top with a salad of sliced cucumber, red onions, chopped tomatoes and sliced black olives.

Turkey Meatball Marinara: Heat 3 to 4 prepared turkey meatballs as directed on package, place on baked sweet potato.  Douse with heated marinara sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Hella Cauliflower Hummus: Add 1 cup of cauliflower florets to baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil. Roast at 400 F degrees for 10 minutes. Add generous dollop of hummus to baked sweet potato and top with roasted cauliflower.

Pesto Zoodles & Chickpeas: Spiralize a small zucchini (or julienne chop) and microwave with ½ cup cooked chick peas in microwave until heated, about 2 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons prepared pesto and top on potato.

Garden Guacamole:  Mash together ½ avocado and ¼ cup thawed frozen peas, season with garlic salt and splash of lemon juice. Stir in 1 tablespoon chopped red onion.  Dollop on baked potato and top with chopped tomatoes.

Peanut Thai Shrimp:  Thaw 3 ounces pre-cooked, deviend shrimp. Quickly sauté in 1 teaspoon olive oil along with ½ cup shredded carrots and 2 tablespoons chopped red onion until just heated. Stir in 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 1 tablespoon peanut butter and Sriracha sauce to taste. Add mixture to potato and top with additional peanuts if desired.

24-Hour Diner Breakfast: Top baked sweet potato with one scrambled egg, 2 slices of bacon and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Broccoli Cheese Please:  Add 1 cup steamed broccoli over baked sweet potato and top with ½ cup “light” broccoli cheese soup from deli or jar. Add shredded cheddar and chopped green onions to garnish.

Mojo Black Bean Mango:  Make relish of 1/3  cup chopped mango, 2 tablespoons chopped red onion, 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, 1 teaspoon minced jalapeno and juice of ½ lime. Add ½ cup cooked black beans to sweet potato and top with relish.

Blue Cheese Buffalo Chicken: Mix 3 ounces chopped rotisserie chicken with 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce. Add to top of baked sweet potato and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons blue cheese crumbles. Microwave for 1 to 2 minutes until cheese melting. Serve with celery sticks.

Feta Orange Crush:  Scoop out pulp of baked sweet potato, mix with 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice and 1 teaspoon orange zest.  Top with 2 tablespoons Feta cheese crumbles and 2 ounces of mandarin orange segments, broil for 1 minute until cheese bubbling.  Top with chopped mint.

Maple Salmon Pecan: Top baked sweet potato with 4 ounces cooked salmon chunks, 2 tablespoons pecan pieces and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Enchilada Sauce Y Mas: Top sweet potato with grated pepper jack cheese and shredded pork. Pour generous amount of warm enchilada sauce on top and sprinkle with pico de gallo.

Coconut Curry: Stir together 1/3 cup Greek yogurt with 1 tablespoon coconut “butter,” 1 teaspoon honey and ¼ teaspoon each curry powder, cumin, turmeric and red pepper flakes. Top sweet potato with 1 cup of favorite steamed veggies and pour on sauce.

What is your favorite way to top a sweet potato?  Which of these ideas do you like most?! Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

Fit, Flavorful, Fast Dinner Ideas – Ragu and My Funny Family

I have to admit, making long complicated recipes is NOT a family tradition. I do it sometimes, but not on typical nights when I am trying to fit in running, working out or watching the kids play their sports – you know, HAVING FUN!  Instead, I tend to fly by the seat of my pants and let creativity reign, based on what I happen to have in the fridge, produce bin and pantry. So, I guess you could say dinner traditions in my family of five are rooted in being quick and easy yet fresh and flavorful – you’ll see this with the two RAGÚ pasta sauce recipes I’m sharing today (Eight-Minute Egg & Zucchini Ragu and Low-Carb Chicken Club Zoodles).

Ragu pasta sauces are simmered in tradition and the perfect meal solution for my busy nights.

jen and dean college

Yeah, here we are in 1986 — the early Ragu days.

One ingredient that is always on hand help me pull off a speedy supper is RAGÚ® Pasta Sauce. When I say I’m a fan, I mean it – I’ve been eating the RAGÚ® Traditional Sauce (and now Organic Traditional) for 30 years beginning when I first met my husband in college (It’s the only sauce we eat)! Who has time for homemade, really?!

I appreciate how RAGÚ® does all hard work, and when I pop open the jar it tastes just like grandmother’s secret recipe that had been simmering all day.  That’s because RAGÚ® has super high standards and uses no artificial anything or high fructose corn syrup – it’s slowly simmered to add layers of insane flavor, just like Assunta’s (the single-mom founder) original recipe from way back in 1937.

So, this first vegetable pasta recipe is seriously made in eight minutes – Egg & Zucchini Ragu. It’s my go-to meal solution when totally slammed but in need of a nutritious meal packed with protein and fresh veggies. By the way, did you now that a serving of Ragu pasta sauces is the equivalent of two servings of veggies?!

Eight Minute Egg & Zucchini Ragu

Eight Minute Egg & Zucchini Ragu

  • 2 large zucchini, spiralized or cut in julienned strips
  • 1 cup Ragu Organic Traditional Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 to 4 eggs (depending on appetite)
  • Salt and Red Pepper flakes, to taste
  • Garnish – snipped basil

Directions: Place zucchini in microwave-safe bowl, top with lid slightly cracked. Steam in microwave for 1 ½ to 2 minutes or until softened, but not mushy.  Add pasta sauce and microwave for an additional 30 to 45 seconds, stirring well after to combine. Heat olive oil in small skillet and cook eggs sunny side up, until yolks set to preferred consistency. Top eggs on pasta and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with snipped basil. Serves 2.

Low Carb Chicken Club Zoodles

My second under ten minute dinner fix (Low Carb Chicken Club Zoodles) is a yummy use for nights when I have some slowcooker chicken already in the fridge (I make big, big batches at once) or have swung by the store for a rotisserie chicken.  I love to use zucchini in place of traditional noodles to keep the grains and carbs down – I like to eat a higher protein diet and prefer most of my carbs to come from fruits and veggies.

Low Carb Chicken Club Zoodles

  • 2 large zucchini, spiralized or cut in julienned strips
  • 1 cup Ragu Organic Traditional Sauce
  • 12 ounces shredded slow cooker or rotisserie chicken with skin removed
  • 4 slices par-cooked bacon
  • 1 ounce shredded cheese of choice

Directions: Place zucchini in microwave-safe bowl, top with lid slightly cracked. Steam in microwave for 1 ½ to 2 minutes or until softened, but not mushy.  Add pasta sauce and chicken and microwave for an additional 60 seconds, stirring well after to combine. Wrap bacon in paper towel and microwave for 30 seconds or per package instructions. Sprinkle top of pasta with bacon and cheese before serving. Serves 2.

davis spoon balancing 2015I have another family dinner tradition to share – and it’s just being silly. With three now teenage boys, it can get pretty crazy and rowdy at the dinner table. More than one time, I’ve spewed water out my nose – the utensil balancing contests always crack me up.  We’ve been doing it for years, as you can see – youngest son holds the record number of spoons and forks balance.  Yes, we’re weird – but these are indelible (if insane) memories to enjoy along with the RAGÚ®  Pasta Sauce.

So, what are your favorite family dinner traditions – recipes or activities? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer 

Fall Veggie Chick’n Curry in a Hurry! #OMGardein

We are getting a cold front this weekend – the temps will only be reaching 89 F degrees with lows dipping into the 60s! That’s hardly sweater season, but I’ll take – especially after enduring a summer of running in an inferno. I can also tell that fall is on its way, the days are getting shorter and there’s that beautiful amber glint in the sky starting mid-afternoons. This gets me in the mood for a warm and nourishing plate of goodness (using Gardein products), something other than the no-cook entrée salads I’ve been eating for months.

Fall Veggie Curry with Gardein Chick'n Strips

Fresh fall produce, like sweet potatoes and cauliflower, come together beautifully in my Fall Vegetable Chick’n Curry. It’s a pot of soul-satisfying, exotically spiced food that will fuel any active lifestyle – just enough healthy carbs for quick energy and plenty of plant-based protein for muscle management thanks to Gardein Teriyaki Chick’n Strips. Whole grains, legumes and well-seasoned veggies round out the easy meal to add fiber and other essential nutrients, not to mention add tons of flavor and texture.

Ingredients for Fall Veggie curry

If you’re not familiar with the Gardein (garden + protein, get it?!) you need to be! It’s no secret I’m a meat-eater — I’m a grilling instructor, certified BBQ judge and elite running team member sponsored by BEEF. That being said, I’m all for variety in a healthy diet (I eat it all) and the products from Gardein are versatile, convenient and tasty way to get adequate protein when I’m preparing a vegetarian or Meatless Monday meal – which I eat at least once a week.

Fall Veggie Curry with Gardein Chick'n

Gardein makes over 20 plant-based protein products including these favorites — Gardein BBQ porkless pocket meal, Gardein The Ultimate Beefless Ground, Gardein Golden Fishless Filets, Gardein Seven Grain Crispy Tenders and Gardein Teriyaki Chick’n Strips (used in my recipe today). Found in the frozen foods  aisle of your market,  Gardein products cook from frozen making them an ideal meal starter for those crazy, busy nights when you can’t get something going all the way from scratch or are too worn out to figure out if your vegetarian or vegan meal is packing enough protein. Gardein’s award winning products are made from non-GMO soy and wheat, ancient grains and veggies and offer a similar taste and texture to traditional meat with a bit fewer calories, cholesterol and fat.

Fall Veggie Chick’n Curry Recipe

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 package Teryaki Chick’n Strips from Gardein
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/3″ cubes
  • 1/2 yellow onion coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup halved Brussels sprouts
  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-oz can fire-roasted tomatoes with juice
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • Serve with prepared rice.
  1. Heat oil 1 tablespoon of oil and cook Chick’n Strips according to package instructions, but don’t add sauce packet yet.  Remove cooked strips from skillet.
  2. Add remaining olive oil to same skilled and brown sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add onions and saute for another 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add broth, sauce packet (that came with  Chick’n Strips), chickpeas, tomatoes and spices to skillet and let simmer for approximately 10 minutes, until everything warmed and juices reduced a bit.
  4. Add cooked Chick’n back to mixture, stir. Serve over warm rice and sprinkle with cashews and cilantro.
  5. Serves 4.

For additional information, easy dinner solutions, and chef inspired recipes, visit Gardien – you can also get a $1 off coupon until October 9th, 2015.

If you’re NOT a vegan or vegetarian, how many times a week do you go meatless? What is your favorite dish? Please share in the comments below — XOXO, Jennifer 

My Hectic yet Healthy Life {Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore Recipe } #Greenling

Once again, actually make that twice again, Greenling has saved dinner this week and kept me from hauling the kids through the drive through.  Oodles of work obligations in addition to all of our sports and extra-curricular schedules have kept us busier than a cat in a bag with two dogs. Or, as a friend likes to put it, keeping up with the Fishers is like trying to take only a sip of water out of a fire hose.  I guess we’re an all-over-the-place, in-your-face, deluge of doers, but I’ll take this super-charged, super-eventful season of my life over being bored any day.

I made Chicken Cacciatore in 5 minutes -- kinda, sorta!

I made Chicken Cacciatore in 5 minutes — kinda, sorta!

But all this activity makes getting dinner prepared more difficult. It requires advance planning and stopping by the store, which sometimes – to be honest – is not how I want to spend my few free minutes of the day. Enter Greenling.com, an organic and locally-sourced produce and grocery service that offers free delivery right to your doorstep (in coolers so you don’t even have to be home).  I love the idea of feeding my family foods grown by mom and pop farms right here in the Central Texas area – and saving the time, hassle and gas money of going to the market.

jennifer fisher - thefitfork.com - local box

Local Box from Greeling.com changes every week depending on what’s in season at nearby organic farms.

I’ve ordered their local box of organic produce and it was fabulous – delivered right to my door step and with a card of recipe ideas (thank goodness, because I had no idea what to do with turnips).  Knowing how busy we were this week, I picked a family-sized meal from their wide selection of recipe kits.  They have a nice assortment of healthy, family-friendly options including Beef Tacos, Slow Cooker Lasagna and Sesame Chicken.  While Asian Lettuce Wraps and the Kale Portobello Stuffed Mushrooms have been tried-and-true winners, I decided to go for something new and settled on Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore featuring cremini mushrooms, squash, tomato and peppers and fresh, locally-made linguine pasta.

My recipe kit from Greenling.com included already-prepped ingredients for Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore!

My recipe kit from Greenling.com included already-prepped ingredients for Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore!

Literally, it took five minutes for me to take the lids off these pre-prepped vegetables, spices and sauce and get it going in the crock pot. Soon after, I left for a trip to the gym, school pick-ups, dentist appointments and football practice. The kids were starving by the time we walked in the door, we could smell the yumminess and all I had left to do was boil the fresh pasta noodles that were included with the recipe kit.

Chicken Cacciatore cooking for four hours in crockpot while I'm out having fun!

Chicken Cacciatore cooking for four hours in crockpot while I’m out having fun!

I would have paired the Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore with the large grab-and-go Kale Waldorf Salad I ordered, but oops – we ate that two nights ago when we unexpectedly scored tickets to a college football game and had to come up with dinner in a snap. Instead of serving the salad as a side dish, I added some feta cheese crumbles, a little more lettuce to stretch it, and some pre-grilled chicken I had in the freezer.  Literally, it was a meal made in 3 minutes!

grab and go greenling kale waldorf collage

Are you ready to fire up your slow cooker and make meals while you’re out doing things that are much more fun  – like running, CrossFitting and watching your kids play football or toot a trombone?  Check out Greenling.com and order a recipe kit – they have locations in all the big Texas cities. If you’re not from ’round these parts, so sorry. But, I’ve rattled off my interpretation of the recipe below – it’s still easy to make, there’s just a lot more chopping!

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore Recipe

  • 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 lb organic chicken breast
  • 4 cups squash (zucchini, summer or a mix), cut in ½” chunks
  • 2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 small cans tomato paste
  • 12 ounces chicken stock
  • 1 bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or more if you like spicy)
  • 12 oz fresh pasta of choice

Place onion in the bottom of a large (6 quart) slow cooker; lay chicken on top of onion and then toss in squash and mushrooms.

In a mixing bowl, add chicken stock. Add in tomato paste, bell pepper, garlic, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper and stir until blended. Pour tomato mixture over chicken and vegetables in slow cooker.

Set the slow cooker to high and cook 3-4 hours until chicken pulls apart easily with a fork.

Before serving, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a medium pot over high heat. Add pasta and cook to manufacturer’s directions.

Drain pasta and serve chicken cacciatore over pasta.

Serves 6.