Servings: 8 Prep: 15 mins Cook: 1 hr Total: 1 hr 15 mins
I operate a low-carb, ketogenic, and largely primal website, suggesting certain ingredients are off the table. Sweet potatoes would likely fall firmly into that camp, but I’m a rebel. I’m a renegade. I thrive on swimming against the current.
As much as I believe in keeping carbs low, I also tend to believe limits can cause issues downstream. If one spends all their time limiting themselves, then find themselves cursed with an unstoppable craving, they may fall off the edge of the earth into a bowl of sweet, chocolate pasta.
Often times cravings are the result of the body needing some missing vitamin, mineral, or even some kind of macronutrient, like fat. If someone is confining themselves to a highly restrictive diet, this is certainly plausible. There are also certain psychological, cultural, and mnemonic issues which can cause cravings.
Put simply, “I miss pineapple!” This can cause a raging, swirling mind-game, endlessly circling tropical fruits. This, too, can lead to some kind of deep dive into the snack aisle at the local Piggly Wiggly.
This is why I often prescribe thoughtfully baking certain risky ingredients into one’s way of eating. You want pineapple? Go for it! Yes, it’s high in carbs and may cause a spike in blood sugars, but your body could be low in Vitamin C or Manganese. In the body’s non-vocal way, it’ll just start to crave those nutrients. Plug the hole with pineapple!
I will personally enjoy something like a small bowl of freshly sliced pineapple earlier in the day and on a day that I know I’m going to be active. I’ll enjoy the lunch or snack, then hit the gym or the trails, using that glucose in my blood for quick energy, and burn through it, before the insulin has time to stash it on my rear for another day.
Or, I’ll dilute the pineapple into something larger, like a bread or ice cream. I’ll cut up a fresh pineapple half, sauté it in butter and sweetener, to get some nice caramel flavor, reduce the water, and boost the sweetness. Then, I’ll use my caramel nibblets within something bigger and grander. This gets me the taste sensation, nutrients and sense of freedom, all while keeping the overall carb count low.
Then, there are just good ol’ fashioned cheat days, which can be once a week, or a single weekly meal, or reserved for only holidays, etc. This particular recipe came about as part of a bigger topic of Father’s Day. Maybe Dad is itchin’ to splurge for a moment?
In the case of this recipe, I readily acknowledge that the carb count will break the bank. However, using some of the ideas above, I might suggest enjoying something like this on an active day, and/or as part of a planned cheat. Beyond that, I took something a bit on the carby side (also loaded with Vitamin A) and diluted it with fat and protein, suggesting one would eat a smaller sized Twice Baked Sweet Potato than one may ordinarily expect and enjoy it with the full knowledge that it’s calorie dense and flavorful as all get out. I’ll also add that you can absolutely eat the skin. It’ll boost the fiber and slow the conversion of starch into blood sugar. Tasty, too!
All of this is to say, this is just me and how I roll. Some people need structure and to count every little thing. Something like this falls outside their boundaries. I fully support and can get behind any approach one may choose to take, provided they’re benefitting from it. For those closer to my approach, this is a fantastic, indulgent periodic splurge. For those who are a bit on the newer side, or those needing to keep things dialed in a bit more, perhaps move on… Though, I still suggest the above is worth noting and baking into the ol’ bag of tricks. The idea is to stay on the wagon. If you find yourself falling off, it may be prudent to dial into some alternative thinking.
More of what works, and less of what doesn’t. You do you, Boo!
Note: Sweet potatoes come in many forms. Look for stout, clean, relatively small, well-formed sweet potatoes. Ultimately, any sweet potato will work, but a plump little fattie will be a bit easier to work with and move around.
Twice Baked Sweet PotatoesPrint Pin Rate
- 4 small, well-formed sweet potatoes
- 1 lb bacon
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 small onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 lb grated cheddar cheese
- 1 Tbsp fresh chopped thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- Pre-heat oven to 400°F (204°C).
- Wash and scrub the outside of your sweet potatoes. While they’re still wet, sprinkle a good amount of salt (more than you’d normally use) on the outside of the sweet potatoes. Place them on a baking tray and slide into the oven. Bake until they feel a bit soft and squishy. It largely depends on the size of your potato. Smaller, thinner ones may bake in just 30 minutes, while the bigger ones may take upwards of an hour. Just give the biggest one a squeeze after about 30 minutes, then test every 10 minutes or so, until it feels soft. Once they’re soft, remove from the oven and set aside to cool, a bit.
- While the potatoes are in the oven, chop the bacon into bits. Place the bits into a sauté pan over high heat. Break the bits apart and stir regularly.
- Set up a small bowl with a strainer in it, as well as a bed of paper towels.
- Eventually, the bits will evaporate away most of the water and the fat will begin to render out, frying the remaining salty, smoky protein bits. Once the bits start to fry, turn the heat to medium-low. Keep stirring until the bits are completely broken apart and have consistently and noticeably darkened in color. Pour the bacon and bacon fat into the strainer, allowing the fat to drain into the bowl. Once the bits have drained, pour them onto the bed of paper towels and spread them out, so they can dry.
- Place the same sauté pan back on the stove over medium heat.
- Remove the steam and seeds from the bell pepper. Dice it into small bits. If the pan doesn’t have a nice coating of bacon fat, add a bit from your bowl. Add the diced bell peppers to the sauté pan with a bit of salt and pepper. Stir and cook.
- While the bell peppers are cooking, peel and dice the onion, as well as the garlic. Once the bell pepper has started to soften (3 or 4 minutes), add the onions and garlic to the peppers, with a bit more salt and pepper. Cook this mixture until soft, about 5 more minutes. Turn off the stove and set the pan aside.
- Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, very carefully cut them in half, from the top to the bottom. With a fairly thin, small, metal spoon, gently spoon the center of the sweet potato flesh from their skins and place into a medium sized mixing bowl. Be very careful, so as not to break through the skins. If you leave a bit of the flesh in the skin, don’t worry. The extra salt has helped season this bit, all while it will help hold your little cup together.
- Once you’ve spooned all the sweet potato centers into the mixing bowl, add the bacon bits, the pepper-onion mixture, about 3/4’s (12 oz or 340g) of the grated cheese, the fresh thyme, and about 1/4 cup (60mL) of the bacon fat. Mix the ingredients together, breaking up the lumps. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Spoon the seasoned, cheesy mixture back into the sweet potato skins, again being very gentle.
- Once the potatoes are loaded, sprinkle the remaining cheddar cheese over the tops and place back in the oven. Bake until the cheese is melty and delicious (about 10 to 15 minutes). Remove from the oven and serve!
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