Healthier Smothered Sweet Potato Fries + How To Make Ground Beef Go Farther

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Healthier Smothered Sweet Potato Fries are a healthier, homemade version of restaurant nachos. Plus a trick to make ground beef healthier, and last longer!

Healthier Smothered Sweet Potato Fries, plus how to make ground beef go farther! | iowagirleats.com

Howdy everybody – hope you had a nice weekend!

Ben and I kicked things off with Life of Pi (mmm, pie) on Friday night. I liked it though Ben thought it was snoozeville. I’m into Lost-y/shipwreck-type films though, plus I read the book and thought this was one movie that’s actually better than it’s written counterpart. The book moved like molasses to me, whereas the movie was a bit more exciting. 1-1/2 thumbs up!

Saturday Ben and I babysat Finn & Evie in the afternoon, then Sunday we ran errands all day, fitting in a quick evening walk while dodging raindrops. The sun appeared for about an hour total this weekend so…progress? (Sob!)

Anyways, enough delay. To kick the week off I want to share an awesome recipe + kitchen trick with you that I’m really (perhaps overly) excited about: Healthier Smothered Sweet Potato Fries + How to Make Ground Beef Go Farther!

Healthier Smothered Sweet Potato Fries, plus how to make ground beef go farther! | iowagirleats.com

First, let’s address these Healthier Smothered Sweet Potato Fries. Hot damn! These babies are a riff on Granite City’s Idaho (no you da…) Nachos which are waffle cut fries smothered with cheese, bacon, tomatoes, and green onions. They are just as mouthwatering as they sound, but kind of sit like a rock in your stomach, know what I mean?

That’s why I decided to make a “healthier” version using sweet potato fries (admittedly store bought, but they’d be just as excellent with homemade sweet potato fries) which are topped with a modest amount of cheddar cheese, healthy and homemade guacamole, tomatoes, green onions, and my NEW FAVORITE THING EVER – seasoned, healthier “ground beef”. Muwahaha!

Healthier Smothered Sweet Potato Fries, plus how to make ground beef go farther! | iowagirleats.com

A couple of weeks ago I said to myself, self – I am so sick of paying $7.99/lb for ground beef. There’s got to be a better, more economical, and healthier way to get our ground beef fix without the price! That’s when the idea of swapping 1/2 the ground beef for, wait for it, chopped mushrooms popped into my head! You won’t find someone who hates mushrooms more than me (it’s a texture thing) but I figured if I chopped ‘em up real small in the food processor then cooked them right in with the ground beef then maybe I wouldn’t notice a thing.

AND I DIDN’T.

This is without a doubt one of my most favorite kitchen swaps I’ve ever found. You cannot taste the mushrooms at all, there is NO funky taste or texture to the final product, and hello – where lean grass-fed ground beef is $7.99/lb, mushrooms, which are low in calories, virtually fat-free and packed with vitamins, are usually $2-3/lb! I’ve been making tacos, spaghetti sauce, and salads with this mix for the past 2-3 weeks and, as Ben so eloquently put it - we only eat ground beef this way from now on. It’s true.

Healthier Smothered Sweet Potato Fries, plus how to make ground beef go farther! | iowagirleats.com

Start the Healthier Smothered Sweet Potato Fries with the sweet potato fries. Like I said, you could totally go the homemade route but I spied these Alexia Seasoned Waffle Cut Sweet Potato Fries at the store and couldn’t resist picking up a bag to try. They turned out to be the crispiest oven-fries I’ve ever had, plus the hint of seasoning on them is really, really good.

Healthier Smothered Sweet Potato Fries, plus how to make ground beef go farther! | iowagirleats.com

Bake however many servings you need on a foil-lined baking sheet according to package directions. Ben recommends baking them on a cooling rack for ultimate crispiness!

Healthier Smothered Sweet Potato Fries, plus how to make ground beef go farther! | iowagirleats.com

While the fries are baking, get the mushrooms and ground beef goin’ by first processing 1/2lb (8oz) mushrooms. Use whatever kind you prefer. I used white mushrooms because they were on sale at the store.

Healthier Smothered Sweet Potato Fries, plus how to make ground beef go farther! | iowagirleats.com

Rinse the mushrooms (the whole “mushrooms soak up water” myth has been debunked by many sources so soak and scrub away) then place the mushrooms in a food processor and process until they’re the texture of cooked ground beef. Alternatively you could just chop them up real small by hand.

Healthier Smothered Sweet Potato Fries, plus how to make ground beef go farther! | iowagirleats.com

Now add the processed mushrooms to 1/2lb lean ground beef in a large skillet over medium-high heat, season with salt and pepper, then cook until the ground beef is no longer pink.

Healthier Smothered Sweet Potato Fries, plus how to make ground beef go farther! | iowagirleats.com

Mushrooms have a high water content so don’t be alarmed if you have a lot of liquid in the skillet at the end. Just drain the whole thing as you normally would then return the mixture to the skillet. I mean look – can YOU spot the difference?!

Healthier Smothered Sweet Potato Fries, plus how to make ground beef go farther! | iowagirleats.com

While the beef’s cooking get some taco seasoning ready, which is how I chose to season my meat for these smothered fries. Simply seasoned beef and mushrooms with onions, garlic, and worcestershire sauce would be good too though. I used my homemade taco seasoning mix > which seasons 1lb of “meat”.

Healthier Smothered Sweet Potato Fries, plus how to make ground beef go farther! | iowagirleats.com

Add the seasoning into the mushroom and beef mixture along with 1/4 cup water and stir to combine then turn the heat down to low to keep warm.

Healthier Smothered Sweet Potato Fries, plus how to make ground beef go farther! | iowagirleats.com

Seriously – looks and taste wise – no difference!

Healthier Smothered Sweet Potato Fries, plus how to make ground beef go farther! | iowagirleats.com

If you’re making fries for a crowd, spoon the mushroom/beef mixture right over ‘em on the baking sheet then add shredded cheddar cheese and broil until melted. If you’re just making one serving, pile the fries, meat mixture and cheese onto a plate then microwave to melt the cheese. Serve topped with chopped tomatoes and green onion, and lots of homemade guacamole. That’s just ripe avocado mashed with garlic salt and lime juice!

Healthier Smothered Sweet Potato Fries, plus how to make ground beef go farther! | iowagirleats.com

Healthier Smothered Sweet Potato Fries

Print this recipe!

Serves 6 (easily adaptable for 1 or 2)

Ingredients:
1.25lb frozen sweet potato fries (I used Alexia waffle cut)
1/2lb lean ground beef
8oz button mushrooms, processed or finely chopped
salt & pepper
1 recipe homemade taco seasoning (including water)
1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Toppings: tomatoes, green onions, guacamole, black olives

Directions: 

  1. Prepare sweet potato fries on a foil-lined baking sheet according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat then add beef and chopped mushrooms. Season with salt & pepper then saute until ground beef is no longer pink, and then drain well and return to skillet. Add taco seasoning and water then stir to combine. Turn heat to low and keep warm. 
  2. When fries are done baking, turn oven to broil then top fries with beef and mushroom mixture. Top with cheddar cheese then broil until melted (alternatively you could place fries and beef/mushroom mixture on a plate, top with 1/4 cup cheese per person, and then microwave until melted.) Top with desired toppings then serve.

Healthier Smothered Sweet Potato Fries, plus how to make ground beef go farther! | iowagirleats.com

If you’ve got a picky eater, or someone like me who knows mushrooms are good for them but can’t stand the texture, this is a terrific way to sneak ‘em in with nobody being the wiser. Plus, like I mentioned, it’s a great way to make ground beef go farther and save a buck or 2 (or 3 or 4!)

Healthier Smothered Sweet Potato Fries, plus how to make ground beef go farther! | iowagirleats.com

I’d stick to using the swap in dishes that call for cooked ground beef vs burgers or meatloaf, since the mushrooms let out a lot of water that will need to be drained off. Other than that, I hope you enjoy these fries, and kitchen swap, as much as I did!

Healthier Smothered Sweet Potato Fries, plus how to make ground beef go farther! | iowagirleats.com

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Comments

  1. Sara B. 04.15.2013

    I have totally done this before with mushrooms! I had no idea what to do with my leftover package of them, so I put them in the food processor and added them to our beef burgers we had for dinner. You couldn’t taste the difference! :)

  2. Brenda 04.15.2013

    You are a GENIUS! I love ground beef and use it a lot, but, like you, it was bugging me to pay the price. It makes so much sense to add mushrooms to “beef it up”, so to speak. From now on, I’ll buy a pound of hamburger and a box of mushrooms. GENIUS!

  3. KathyH 04.15.2013

    Great idea!! I just don’t like to eat a lot of straight up meat cause I don’t like the taste. But I have to balance out the preferences of my family. I have used the textured vegetable protein, but it’s hard to find in my area and I’m not sure if we’re supposed to eat all that soy, etc. etc. But no one can argue with the health factor of mushrooms, now can they?? Great idea and your photos proof just sealed the deal for me. My family will be none the wiser.

  4. What a great add-in idea! While doing my grocery shopping yesterday I bit the bullet for the better-for-us ground turkey and also got some mushrooms for some other meal ideas. I’ll be adding my mushrooms into the turkey now! Thanks!

  5. jennifer 04.15.2013

    I love this idea. I have been doing this with mushrooms for the last year. I HATE mushrooms but this allows getting the health benefits of mushrooms, saving money, and reducing meat consumption. I have used white mushrooms as well as baby portabellas. I have added it to ground turkey without being grossed out from the mushroom taste. Thanks!

  6. Brandy 04.15.2013

    I am like you, I hate mushrooms, no DESPISE mushrooms, but I always buy the expensive ground beef and hate it. I may try this, but I have to admit, I’m a little skeptical. I will let you know how it turns out ;)

  7. Doug 04.15.2013

    You are a genius..

  8. Melinda 04.15.2013

    Another good sub in is tofu. Freeze it straight out of the carton and then thaw (so takes a little planning). Squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can and then just grind it up in a skillet with your ground beef. Much like mushrooms, tofu has no real flavor of its own, so it’ll taste like beef and whatever spices are added in. Obviously has more calories but also a lot more protein than mushrooms. And at about $1.19 a pound (thank you Double Dragon) or $1.99 a pound (Whole Foods), it’s way cheaper than humane raised ground beef (which I also buy so I feel your pain). I’ve used this trick numerous times and it works like a charm-we always get firm or extra firm and it’s magic.

  9. Oh my, these look good! I had sweet potato wedges with lemongrass and ginger crème fraiche at Jenna’s Noonday launch over the weekend and they were amazing! I’m going to have to bookmark both of these recipes for future sweet potato usage! :)

  10. Jamie 04.15.2013

    Love Alexia’s Fries. Mmmm. Such a genius ground beef swap, alas, I am so allergic to mushrooms.

  11. Kristin – great idea to use the mushrooms! I am definitely going to try this ( we love mushrooms!).

  12. Cherub Mamma 04.15.2013

    I make a concoction of ground turkey, ground beef, carrots, onions, celery and cooked lentils. I then package it in generous 2 cup portions to sub out for anything that calls for a pound of ground beef. (I keep it in the freezer.)

  13. AshleyCarole 04.15.2013

    I have never thought of this- what a great idea!! I may have to try and sneak some into our next taco night.

  14. Sarah Jane 04.15.2013

    that ground beef stretching idea is so perfect! My husband and I are both in grad school so we have a strict grocery budget and the hubs loves beef and mushrooms so this will be perfect!

  15. Nicole C. 04.15.2013

    Great idea! I really need to invest in a food processor! However – Costco has Organic, grass fed ground beef for around $4-5 a pound! Definitely the cheapest I have ever seen it anywhere!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 04.15.2013

      Ooo I’m going there tonight so I’ll check it out. Thanks for the tip!

      • Nicole C. 04.15.2013

        Definitely! It is packaged kind of strange – $16.99 for 3 1 1/3 lb packages, so I divvy it up into 4 1 lb packages and freeze when we get home, but it is worth the trouble for the price!

  16. Biz 04.15.2013

    I am not a huge fan of mushrooms either (although love the smell of them when cooking!) but have ground them before and put them in the base of pasta sauces and soups. Love the idea of adding it to ground beef!

    I usually mix half cooked rice with my ground beef to make it go farther, but this is a much healthier way to stretch it out. Thanks for the idea!

  17. such a good idea! i’m definitely going to grab some mushrooms next time i plan on making a recipe with ground beef!

  18. Love the idea of substituting mushrooms with the ground beef. A friend of mine made mushroom tacos and completely substituted the meat with mushrooms and it was major delicious!

  19. Masha 04.15.2013

    I am totally loving the idea of sneaking ground mushrooms into ground meats. I generally cook with ground chicken and turkey but I bet it will have the same effect. I LOVE MUSHROOMS plus it lowers the calorie count even more! Thanks for the awesome idea!

  20. What a GREAT idea! I am totally doing this! YUMMMMM!

  21. yum. This looks so tasty. I love sweet potato fries but never thought about making them like this! I like using lauras lean ground beef and I have some frozen so I might try this recipe next week! So smart to add guac on top, lol

  22. Lindsay 04.15.2013

    I always just use Jennie-O’s ground turkey (97% lean, 3% fat) when we buy “ground beef”. I can usually get it here about $4.99lb. Is that as healthy as the grass-fed beef you mentioned buying?
    The fries look ah-mazing!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 04.15.2013

      I like grass-fed beef because it can be lower in fat (especially saturated fat) and higher in omega-3s than corn-fed beef. Additionally I truly think the taste and texture is absolutely delish!

      • Lindsay 04.15.2013

        Good to know, thanks!

  23. This meal is speaking to my soul today! I had no idea that I was craving this until I saw it. We’ve just switched over to all organic grassfed beef which makes my wallet cry every time I go shopping. I’ll definitely give your little trick a try to ease some of the expense.

  24. Carrie 04.15.2013

    Genius!!!!!

  25. Now this I have to try! I am really, really, not into mushrooms – like, at all. But if you too are not a fan and can handle it then it’s worth a try :)

    • Iowa Girl Eats 04.15.2013

      It’s true, I hate, hate, hate mushrooms and I would have no idea they’re in there if I didn’t make it myself!

  26. Sal 04.15.2013

    Delicious! I’m going to buck the trend by saying that I love mushrooms!

  27. Woaa! Amazing idea! I know people eat mushroom burgers so they must taste somewhat like meat.

  28. Allison 04.15.2013

    Great idea! I’ll have to try it! I also sometimes use black beans. A combo of mashed and whole works well, I think. Thanks for sharing!

  29. Holy guacamole! This looks insane!

  30. heather 04.15.2013

    i had to say that Idaho thing aloud to understand it…then immaturely fell to gigles once i caught on . :)

    do you think this would work with other ground meats, if theyre seasoned too? i am not a beef-eater but my parents occasionally enjoy it. also–that mushroom thing…ive seen a couple ‘shroom recipes floating around here lately. i wonder if your body is craving something in them(#preggoprobs)and your palate is trying to catch up. that’d be interesting, if so. <3

  31. Jenny Holiday 04.15.2013

    Oh my gosh! These look and sound so so fantastic! Totally going to try them this coming week! Thanks bunches for sharing! :) xo

  32. Carrie 04.15.2013

    Fabulous! Just tried my first $7.99/lb grass fed beef tonight and have just enough left over from some mighty tasty burgers to give this a try – mushrooms, who’d of thought!
    Thanks!
    Carrie

  33. Caylie 04.15.2013

    That is amazing!! I’m going to have to try it with turkey though, since I can’t eat beef… hopefully it works just as well!

  34. Micole 04.15.2013

    Tried this hamburger trick tonight! I made spaghetti with meat sauce. Feed some to my 9 month old daughter and she LOVED it! Thanks for the tip :)

  35. jennyv 04.15.2013

    Those look delicious! Glad you’re remaking some good ones from Granite City!

    PS They brought back the chicken caesar chalupa to their specials menu two weeks ago!

  36. Nicole 04.15.2013

    I’d definitely have to do this when my husband wasn’t looking. If he had any inkling there were mushrooms anywhere near his food he wouldn’t eat it. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he was the one person in the world who’d figure it out too. It’s too bad because I think this is a fantastic idea!

  37. Candy 04.15.2013

    My hubby hates mushrooms (it’s a texture thing too)…I love them. I’m going to definitely try this and see if he notices. Thanks for the tip. :)

  38. Okay.. drooling!! I love anything with guacamole, and if it resembles nachos.. even better! This looks awesome!

  39. Tieghan 04.15.2013

    OMG!!!! This looks amazing! I love sweet potatoes, I love avocados and I love cheese. But really I LOVE Avocados!!!!

  40. Kristen 04.15.2013

    I plan to try this with veggie “crumbles”. I, too, hate the texture of mushrooms (but strangely like the flavor so have used the puree in the past. Looks like a hit!

  41. Lauren 04.15.2013

    Love it love it! Genius I tell ya :)

    Do you have an Aldi near you? $1.69 for 1 lb ground turkey.

  42. Becky 04.15.2013

    IGE=smarty.pants!

    I’m totally trying the mushroom thing and the sweet potatoes look amazing!

  43. Heather T. 04.15.2013

    I don’t like mushrooms for the same reason, but really like the flavor they impart in sauces and other recipes. I will have to try this and see how it goes over. I also use a lot of ground turkey (or a mix of beef/turkey) as some others have mentioned. I am not too sure of the health savings on that, but it makes us feel a little healthier :)

  44. Carrie 04.15.2013

    Great idea for the beef/mushroom mixture. I have been doing this for years in my turkey burgers as it adds some nice moisture to otherwise dry ground turkey. . But, I hadn’t thought of if as a ground beef extender. I’m trying it.

  45. Michelle Naomi 04.15.2013

    yum! I never thought about using the food processor to do this. I always bulk up my ground beef with chopped mushrooms, diced onions and shredded carrots. I’ll certainly be trying this out soon!

  46. Trisha 04.15.2013

    This is epic.

  47. I <3 mushrooms and do this all the time for my lasagna and enchiladas. You can also freeze a block of tofu and then defrost it and squeeze out the water. Then crumble it like ground beef and use it alone or mix with ground beef to make it go farther too! It absorbs flavor just like a sponge.

  48. Allison 04.16.2013

    This is so great. I have to tell you I’ve recently gone vegan , but I love your blog so much I’m still following and finding swaps on my own. Super excited to see this swap in the recipe. I could go full mushrooms and swap or skip the cheese. In fact, I’m going to try out the mushroom swap tonight in an Italian dish and spice it up with fennel seed for a faux Italian sausage.

  49. Teresa (@Iowamyhome) 04.16.2013

    You pay $7.99/pound for ground beef? Wow! It’s around $3 to $4 at my local Fareway store. The Fareway meat counter is the best!

    • Teresa (@Iowamyhome) 04.16.2013

      Not sure why I’m still thinking about this, but budget-wise, don’t mushrooms cost more per pound than ground beef? Maybe grated carrots or beans would be a lower-cost substitution. Not that I have don’t love mushroom, because I do. My hubby and I add them to everything!

      • Teresa (@Iowamyhome) 04.16.2013

        Sorry about typos. I meant to say we love mushrooms in everything. My thoughts are faster than my typing ability :)

  50. Jen W 04.16.2013

    We are big mushroom eaters at our house, so this would be a fantastic swap! Thanks for the suggestion.

    I recently read about giving ground been an oomph with ground/grated carrots too. If you don’t cook them long enough, you get a crunch, but I tried it and it works! So many great ways to sneak in extra veggies and save!

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