HOLIDAY HELP: Better-for-Your-Bod Mashed Potatoes

Ditching mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving Day is heartbreaking and just plain un-American. Here, turkey’s supporting stars get a healthy holiday makeover from a local chef

On a holiday that’s centered on an enormous spread of comfort (read: unhealthy) food, it can be tough to find ways to lighten up your feast. And, unfortunately, one of the biggest health culprits on your table is that big dish of warm, homey, buttery, cream-laced mashed potatoes that you’d love to dive into headfirst. That’s why we talked to Rich Landau, executive chef and co-owner of Center City’s vegan restaurant, Horizons, to find some healthier and livelier ways to keep everyone’s favorite Thanksgiving tradition on the table—without giving up taste.

Butternut Squash Mashed Potatoes

Winter squash, like the butternut used in this mashed potato upgrade, have the same soft, dense texture and taste of potatoes, but are also packed with vitamin C, fiber, and carotenoids that fend off heart disease, and cancer-fighting beta-carotene. The dash of brown sugar and the squash’s golden color also make this a sweeter, more table-livening alternative to your typical, all-white potato dish.


1 butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeds removed
4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. fresh chopped rosemary
1 tsp brown sugar

Rub the oil, salt, and pepper on the squash and bake in a 450-degree oven until tender. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in salted water until tender.

When draining the potatoes, reserve some of the cooking liquid for mashing. When cool enough to handle, peel the skin off and mash the squash with the potatoes, rosemary, and brown sugar. Add olive oil for a richer mash and some of the cooking liquid from the potatoes for a creamier consistency.

Roasted Root Vegetable Mash

Landau’s taken some of the usual spuds out of this dish and replaced them with low-cal, high-fiber alternatives like celery root, carrots, and parsnips. He’s also tossed in a beet, too, which gives this recipe a boost of the anti-cancer agent betacyanin, proven to stave off colon cancer. And, like the butternut squash recipe, this one calls for olive oil, which gives the dish that same deliciously creamy consistency while using heart-healthy mono-saturated fats instead of the artery-cloggers in butter or cream.


1 medium potato
1 large celery root
3 carrots
3 parsnips
1 small beet
2 quarts of water
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 tsp. sherry vinegar
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 450.

Peel and chop all the vegetables into 2-inch dice. Bring the 2 quarts of water (with salt) to a boil, and blanch the vegetables for 4 -5 minutes. Drain the vegetables, but reserve some of the cooking liquid.

In a mixing bowl, toss the vegetables with the olive oil and sherry vinegar, adding salt and pepper to taste. Lay the vegetables out on a large roasting tray and bake them for about 15 minutes, checking periodically. The vegetables should be fork tender but not mushy.

When they are finished roasting, return to the mixing bowl and add the thyme, a touch more olive oil if desired, and a splash of the cooking water. Mash the vegetables with a potato masher or the back of a fork to desired consistency, adding more cooking liquid if they appear too dry.