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Side-dish alternatives for Easter
Rethink mashed potatoes to cut carbs
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When I was growing up, potato dishes were always an Easter-dinner staple in our home. Baked, mashed, fried, au gratin or in a casserole — they were always present in some form on the Easter buffet. However, mashed potatoes were always the most popular complement to our Easter ham.
As much as we all love them, potatoes are naturally high in calories and carbohydrates. Although low in fat, they lack substantial levels of vitamins and minerals. Here are two healthier alternatives that will satisfy cravings for a creamy starch. Make a place for them on your dinner table this Easter.

Mashed potatoes and parsnips
The sweet cousin to the carrot, parsnips can add a delightful flavor to any dish. They also pack a punch of vitamin c, potassium, manganese and folate with half the calories of potatoes. This recipe uses half as many potatoes as a traditional mashed-potato recipe, saving calories and increasing vitamins and minerals. Parsnips have the same creamy consistency, but with a better flavor. This recipe calls for baking the potatoes and parsnips instead of boiling since boiling vegetables in water causes nutrient loss.
• 3 medium-to-large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
• 5 parsnips, peeled and sliced 1-inch thick
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1/4 cup 1 percent milk
• 1 tablespoon butter
• pinch of salt
• pinch of pepper
• 1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with olive oil. Place cut potatoes and parsnips on sheet and place them in the oven. Bake for 20-40 minutes, depending on size of the size of cubes and slices. Toss the potatoes and parsnips occasionally and bake until they are tender all the way through. Remove the tray from oven and transfer the potatoes and parsnips to a large mixing bowl. Mash the potatoes and parsnips well with milk and butter. Season with parsley, salt and pepper.

Creamy mashed cauliflower
This recipe uses cauliflower, which is a great low-carbohydrate alternative to potatoes. It also has about one-fourth fewer calories. Cauliflower packs a super punch of vitamin c, serving up a whole day’s worth of the immunity-boosting vitamin in just one serving. Be sure to follow the recipe and steam the cauliflower; don’t boil out all the nutrients.
• 8 cups bite-size cauliflower florets (about 1 head)
• 4 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
• 1/3 cup nonfat buttermilk
• 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
• 1 teaspoon butter
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• Freshly ground pepper
• Snipped fresh chives for garnish
Place cauliflower florets and garlic in a steamer basket over boiling water, cover and steam until very tender — 12 to 15 minutes.
Place the cooked cauliflower and garlic in a food processor. (A blender also will work.) Add buttermilk, two teaspoons oil, butter, salt and pepper; pulse several times, processing until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a serving bowl. Drizzle with the remaining two teaspoons oil and garnish with chives, if desired. Serve hot.

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