Menu planner: Spicy maple sweet potatoes add zest to your meal

Thinking ahead to your next few meals? Here are some main dishes and sides to try.

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Spicy maple sweet potatoes with cinnamon pepitas.

Spicy maple sweet potatoes with cinnamon pepitas.

Shadow Mountain/Ty Mecham

Spicy maple sweet potatoes with cinnamon pepitas

Makes 8 servings

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: Less than 25 minutes


For pepitas:

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 cup hulled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

For sweet potatoes:

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 medium sweet potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

1/4 cup finely diced shallot or red onion

1 teaspoon coarse salt

2/3 cup unsalted chicken broth

1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons butter

For pepitas: Line a baking sheet with parchment; set aside. In a small saucepan, combine syrup, cinnamon and cayenne over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and add pepitas. Boil, stirring constantly 3 to 4 minutes or until syrup is almost gone and mixture is thick and getting darker in color. Remove from heat; pour glazed pepitas on prepared baking sheet. Working fast, spread seeds out in single layer using spatula or forks. Let cool completely, then break or chop into small clusters.

For potatoes: In a large, nonstick skillet with lid, heat oil on medium-high. Add potatoes, shallot and salt; stir to coat with oil. Reduce heat to medium. Cook potatoes, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes or until softened. Add broth to skillet; cover. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 12 to 14 minutes until potatoes are tender but not falling apart. Meanwhile, combine paprika, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and syrup in bowl. Pour glaze over potatoes and gently stir to coat; cook for 1 minute. Add butter and stir to coat. Remove from heat. Serve potatoes while warm, topped with candied pepitas. (Adapted from “Delicious Gatherings,” Tara Teaspoon, Shadow Mountain Publishing.)

Per serving: 280 calories, 5 grams protein, 12 grams fat (37% calories from fat), 3.3 grams saturated fat, 40 grams carbohydrate, 8 milligrams cholesterol, 348 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.

Carb count: 2.5.

Mustard pork chops with smashed potatoes and peas

Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: about 15 minutes, plus potatoes


1 pound medium red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 (10-ounce) package frozen green peas

2 green onions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

4 (5- or 6-ounce) boneless pork chops (about 3/4 inches thick)

3/4 cup dry white wine or unsalted chicken broth

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Cook potatoes in boiling water about 10 to 12 minutes. Add peas during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain and gently smash with the onions, 1 tablespoon oil, salt and pepper. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a large skillet on medium. Cook chops 4 to 6 minutes per side or until golden brown. Transfer to plates; keep warm. Add the broth or wine to skillet and simmer for 3 minutes, stirring to reduce by half. Whisk in mustard and spoon sauce over pork. Serve with potatoes and peas.

Per serving: 409 calories, 34 grams protein, 15 grams fat (33% calories from fat), 3.5 grams saturated fat, 30 grams carbohydrate, 75 milligrams cholesterol, 564 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber.

Carb count: 2.

Veggie chili

Makes about 7 1/2 1-cup servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 40 minutes


2 teaspoons canola oil

1 large carrot, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 (1.25-ounce) packet less-sodium chili seasoning

1/2 cup no-salt-added tomato sauce

1 1/2 cups no salt-added V-8

1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added or regular fire-roasted diced tomatoes, with liquid

1 (15-ounce) can reduced-sodium black beans, rinsed

1 (15-ounce) can great Northern beans, rinsed

1 medium zucchini, diced

1 medium yellow squash, diced

1/2 cup frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed

Water as needed

Toppings: chopped fresh cilantro, low-fat sour cream, chopped green onions, shredded 50% light sharp cheddar cheese, chopped tomatoes.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven on medium. Add carrot and onion; cook 7 minutes. Stir in chili seasoning; cook 2 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, V-8, tomatoes, both beans, both squash and corn. If too thick, add water as desired. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Serve with desired toppings.

Per cup: 167 calories, 8 grams protein, 2 grams fat (10% calories from fat), no saturated fat, 30 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 213 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber.

Carb count: 2.

Rotini with caramelized onions and broccoli

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium. Add 2 large onions (cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices); cook 12 minutes or until browned. Add 1 cup water and 2 teaspoons dried tarragon; cook 5 to 7 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Meanwhile, cook 12 ounces rotini pasta according to directions; add 5 cups fresh broccoli florets 3 minutes before the end of cooking time. Drain broccoli and pasta and return to pot. Add onion mixture to pot along with 2 (3/4-ounce) wedges light sun-dried-tomato-and-basil cheese; stir until cheese is melted and well blended. Season with coarse salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with more oil if desired.

Turkey and bacon-ranch pizza

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 10-by-15-inch cookie sheet with cooking spray. Unroll 1 (11-ounce) can refrigerated pizza dough on cookie sheet; starting at center, press dough into a 10-by-15-inch rectangle. Spread 1/2 cup ranch dressing over dough. Top with 2 cups chopped leftover turkey, 4 slices crisp cooked bacon (crumbled), 1/4 cup finely chopped onion, 1 large chopped plum tomato, 1 cup shredded 50% light cheddar cheese and 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese. Bake 13 to 16 minutes or until crust is golden and cheese is melted. Cut into 8 servings. Serve with carrot sticks.

Stuffed baked potatoes

Bake potatoes at 400 degrees until tender. Split and fill with sauteed fresh spinach and some crumbled goat cheese. Sprinkle with toasted pecans. Serve with deli egg salad on a bed of red-tipped lettuce. Add whole-grain rolls.

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