One thing I enjoy the most about this blog is the challenge of creating healthy, vegan versions of dishes we all love. You know, the ones that are yummy and comforting—but not even remotely healthy. When everything goes right, I end up with a dish no one would ever guess was vegan or good for them. Healthy Twice-Baked Potatoes is that kind of recipe.
The classic, non-vegan version of this side dish typically contains LOADS of butter, cheese, sour cream and usually, bacon. Sure, there’s plenty of flavor, but it comes with about a metric ton of highly saturated animal fat. What a rotten thing to do to something as nutritious as a potato!
So what makes this healthy twice-baked potato recipe SO dang healthy? First, it has no processed ingredients like ‘fake cheese.’ It’s fine with me if you enjoy processed, store-bought vegan cheese, but I personally don’t care for it. For this recipe, I use a ½ recipe of my 10-minute Vegan Easy Cheezy Sauce.
Second, since it’s vegan, it’s completely dairy-free, of course. (You’re welcome, Elsie the cow!) This makes it a great option not only for vegans, but for those who want, or need, to avoid dairy.
Third, for an extra boost of nutrition, I incorporate high-fiber cannellini beans into the mix. (No worries—no one will ever know unless you tell them!) The cannellini beans are pureed together with garlic and lemon to create sort of a tangy, creamy stand-in for sour cream.
Fourth, as a healthy way to mimic the tastes of bacon, I blend some smoked paprika into the potato mixture and sprinkle more on top for a pretty garnish. Nice smoky flavor, and nobody dies. ?
The result is smooth, creamy, cheesy, smoky, garlicky, vegan—and TOTALLY healthy twiced-baked potatoes!
I can’t say these healthy twice-baked potatoes are fast and easy. They take about the same time and effort as the traditional dish. Sure, in this recipe we have to whip up a quick batch of cheese sauce and puree our beans in a food processor. And for really smooth and creamy potatoes, I like to rice them with a potato ricer (mashing them works fine too.) But we vegans don’t have any messy bacon to cook, so I think it’s about a wash.
But when you take the first bite, I think you’ll agree they’re SO worth the effort! These healthy twice-baked potatoes freeze well, so you can make a batch ahead, then re-heat and serve when you have company or on busy weeknights.
With the holidays right around the corner, healthy twice-baked potatoes are not only delicious enough to please everyone at the table, they won’t add to the post-holiday, why-the-heck-did-I-eat-that guilt!
Healthy Twice-Baked Potatoes
- 4 large baking potatoes such as Russets
- 1 15 ounce can cannellini beans drained and rinsed (about 1 3/4 cups)
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice about 1 lemon
- 3/4 cup plain non-dairy milk
- 1 1/2 cup Easy Cheezy Sauce about 1/2 recipe, or more for topping - see notes
- 2 green onions diced
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika plus more for garnish
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Scrub the potatoes clean. For a crispy, lightly salted skin, rub the potatoes with a small amount of water and course sea salt before baking.
- Place the potatoes directly on the oven rack, and bake for 1 hour, or until tender. (Test them by poking a fork along one side where you'll cut them in half. It will insert easily if the potatoes are done.)
- While the potatoes are baking, make the Easy Cheezy Sauce. (Use 1 1/4 cup of broth or water for the thinner version of the sauce. Click here for recipe and instructions.)
- In a food processor, combine the cannellini beans, garlic and lemon juice. Process until smooth and creamy.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the Vegan Easy Cheezy Sauce, pureed cannellini beans, non-dairy milk, 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika (and vegan butter if desired). Stir to combine.
- When the potatoes are finished, remove them from the oven, and lower the heat to 350 degrees. Allow them to cool for a few minutes.
- Cut each potato in half lengthwise and scoop out the potato, making a shell (see notes). Set the potato shells aside on a baking sheet.
- For perfectly smooth potatoes, I like to use a potato ricer. Or, you can gently mash them in a medium mixing bowl. Add the riced/mashed potatoes and 1/2 of the green onions to the large mixing bowl with other ingredients. Stir well until everything is combined, but don't over mix. Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- Fill the potato shells with the mixture until heaping full. Spread the potatoes out evenly on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until heated through, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven. Garnish with smoked paprika and the remaining diced green onion.
- To make the potato shells, place one potato at a time on a cutting board and grasp with an oven mitt or clean kitchen towel if still very hot. With a sharp knife, cut each potato in half lengthwise. (You may need to poke the sharp end of your knife into the potato to get started. You want a nice, clean cut.) With a soup spoon, scoop out the insides of each potato half into a mixing bowl, being careful not to tear the shell. Leave a small layer of potato next to the skin for support (see photo).
- If you made the full Easy Cheezy Sauce recipe and want extra cheezy potatoes, you can spoon extra sauce on top of each potato before adding the smoked paprika and onions. Extra sauce is especially good when re-heating leftovers.