Dec 06

Sweet Potato Mexican Pie

Some like it hot.

My food as a child

I like it really hot.

Spicy often means a craving Mexican food.  Most people think of Mexican as being unhealthy, but it’s actually one of the easiest cuisines to lighten up.  Latin cooking is derives flavors from spices and herbs more so than fats.  A little cumin, peppers, and cilantro can go a long way!

Ideas for ordering at Mexican restaurants

  • Tell your server not to bring chips so the temptation isn’t even on the table
  • Chicken or veggie fajitas, soft tacos, grilled shrimp or chicken, and ceviche are usually safe bets
  • Ask them to go light on the oil and salt
  • Choose soft tacos over chips, hard tacos, or rice; also request corn tortillas if available
  • Use salsa rather than cheese or sour cream to add flavor
  • Order black or pinto beans rather than refried
  • If you must have a margarita (and you know I must), order it with fresh lime juice instead of the sugary, processed sour mix


In keeping with my Kitchen Workout guidelines, I decided to satisfy my Mexican craving at home rather than go out to eat.

Spicy tomato sauce and sweet potatoes will forever be a favorite combination.  Those flavors were in my head all day as I thought about how I would attack dinner.



Adding spices is a quick and easy way to make a meal something special   One of my “secrets” to a good tomato sauce is adding a bit of cinnamon.  It lifts the flavors and gives the illusion of a hunt of sweetness.

While this ingredient list may look long, it comes together very quickly.  Make substitutions based on your preferences and what you have on hand.  Just be sure to add small amounts at a time and taste as you go!



This dish makes 6 servings.  I ate 4 over the course of the week and froze the remaining two to take to work.  They have been perfect as homemade frozen lunches.

To make this vegetarian/vegan, use tempeh or TVP in place of the ground chicken.


Sweet Potato Mexican Pie

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 T dried cilantro
  • 1 T garlic powder
  •  1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 C chopped red pepper
  • 2/3 C chopped baby bellas
  • 2 C diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 2 C spinach leaves
  • 1 large sweet potato


Preheat oven to 350.

Brown the chicken in a pot with onion and spices.

When chicken is cooked, add peppers, mushrooms, tomato sauce, and water.  Let simmer for 10 mins.

While that mixture is simmering, peel and thinly slice the sweet potato.

Grease a 9×9 baking pan with olive oil.  Layer a quarter of the meat sauce, followed by a layer of sweet potato slices, zucchini slices, and then spinach.  Repeat until you’re out of ingredients, making sure to leave enough sauce to top the dish.

Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30 mins.  Remove the foil and bake for another 15 mins.

Let cool slightly before serving.

Makes 6 servings.


Writing this made me want a margarita.  Doh.

Today is the last day to enter the giveaway for a $25 gift certificate to Open Sky!  Closes at 11:59p tonight!

Do you have any secrets for eating healthy at restaurants?

Do you like food with a little heat?  I find I want it even more in the winter months.



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  1. Elle

    What are baby bellas?

    I would love to try this recipe if I knew! I rarely get to a Mexican restaurant; not common in my area at all.

    1. Laura

      The mini portabello mushrooms. you could use any ‘shroom though!

  2. Tara @ Sweat like a Pig

    This is frickin awesome!! Bookmarking :D

  3. Jessie

    Just saved this recipe.. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

    && as much as I agree with you on #1 for your tips.. I can’t ever get myself to pass up chips & salsa @ a mexican restaurant. I mean isn’t that one of the main reasons why you go there?? Ha Ha

  4. Laura @ LauraLivesLife

    I’m super specific when I eat at a restaurant and order -no thus, cook it this way, etc… I’m sure they love me. Or not.

    1. Laura

      I think servers run in fear when they see me coming. LOL!

  5. Sam @ Better With Sprinkles

    Definitely intrigued by this recipe! Sweet potatoes and Mexican? Sounds awesome.

    I’m definitely a spicy-food lover. I’m the person who adds jalapenos to everything, and anytime I’ve had chicken wings in the last couple of years, I go for spicy/suicide.

    1. Laura

      Thanks! Odd fact: I’ve never had a chicken wing. The bone thing creeps me out.

  6. Kat

    Such an awesome idea girl! Kind of like using spaghetti squash instead of pasta!

  7. Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean

    holy amazing! this looks awesome!

  8. Parita @ myinnershakti

    I bought some TVP the other day! I can’t wait to try out some of your recipes. :) This looks amazing btw – so flavorful.

    1. Laura

      Ohhhh… I can’t wait to hear what you think!

  9. Lee

    This looks really good.

    The chips and salsa kill me at Mexican restaurants. I really just like the salsa and the chips are a vehicle for getting it into my mouth. I wish it was acceptable to eat it with a spoon!

    1. Laura

      It’s not acceptable?! Oops… ;)

  10. Madeline @ Food Fitness and Family

    I LOVE Mexican food so the tips are great. The recipe looks delish!

  11. Christy

    Ohhh snap! This is the one I’ve been waiting for :) I love pretty much everything about this recipe, and I CAN’T wait to try it. I think I might add a handful of cilantro for serving; I can’t get enough of that stuff. Nomnomnom.

    If I’m eating Mexican out, honestly, I don’t try to make it healthy. I so rarely have it that I feel okay indulging. Or maybe that’s my way of justifying it in my head :)

    Thanks for the great idea!

    1. Laura

      Oh, thank you!!! I would have definitely used fresh cilantro if I’d had it on hand.

  12. Natalie @ freshlifefindings

    This recipe sounds delicious! I love the sweet and spicy combo :) and good Mexican restaurant tips! I need to say no to chips before they come to the table ;)

  13. Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers

    I like making Mexi meals at home. I spice them up a bit, but I can’t take it tooooo hot. The hubs always has to add some extra hot sauce or red pepper flakes to his, but he’s a heat monster.

  14. Sarah @ The Smart Kitchen

    Why are you a culinary genius? #youmakemeinsecure #allicandoisusemyfoodprocessor

    YES to cinnamon in tomato-based sauces or soups. I have actually started using allspice instead. You should try that, too. :)

    Another trick for eating out at Mexican restaurants? Eat salsa with a spoon instead of chips, or just pick at the chiplets at the bottom of the basket. They are the best part anyway. (Unless you are watching your sodium levels…like you might be…and then I am sad for you.)

    1. Laura

      Sarah, your hash tags make my day. #hashtaghero

      And YES to the chiplets. I love the crunchies at the bottom. Speaking of… I have an almost-empty cereal box that needs my attention…

  15. Ashley @ Freckles & Spice

    I have a spiced tomateo jam and one GIANT sweet potato in my fridge. I know what I’m have for dinner tonight. Along with spicy black beans. thanks girl!

    I usually follow all your mexican guidelines for eating out – esp veggies with salsa/guac. but the fresh lime juice in margarita is a great call!

    At Indian restaurants I try to go for the non-cream sauce dishes. And stick with dals and masalas cooked in tomato sauce.
    And I usually stand by pick either bread basket or dessert – not both.

    1. Laura

      I love the bread basket vs. dessert tip! I need to implement that… ’cause I ALWAYS want dessert.

  16. Danielle

    I love spicy food and this looks amazing! I always am lightening up mexican dishes and totally agree that it’s pretty easy to make it all pretty healthy! Can’t wait to try out this recipe.

  17. Amanda @ .running with spoons.

    I’m the biggest wimp when it comes to hot food, but I absolutely LOVE Mexican… which kind of becomes a problem ;) And why have I never thought of adding cinnamon to tomato-based sauces? Love the stuff, and always looking for legit ways to get more in – definitely going to try it out!

    1. Laura

      I’m kind of a glutton for punishment when it comes to heat. I eat wasabi plain. Yeow!

  18. Kierston

    Awesome. Just awesome.

    Eating clean at restaurants: I always scope out the menu before hand – depending on the program I’m following, I’ll either special order my meals or ask for little adjustments here and there. It’s funny because typically they think I have an allergy or something lol

    1. Laura

      That’s a great tip… and I usually just let them think I have allergies so they actually follow my modifications. ;)

  19. Laura

    I love the tip about lime juice in a margarita- you’re genius. And I’m adding this to my menu plan for next week. I can’t get enough sweet potatoes (or Mexican food) lately. Can’t wait!

    1. Laura

      Thank you!!! Please let me know what you think. :)

  20. Devon @ Health in Equilibrium

    Whoa!!! You just combined 3 of the best things ever: Sweet potatoes, Mexican food and pie. I feel like life just started to make a LITTLE bit more sense :)

    1. Laura

      Haha – Mexi-trifecta!

  21. Alex @ therunwithin

    holy deliciousness. that is all. I mean i am so making this for my family over break

    1. Laura

      Awwwww… I hope they like it!

  22. Lisa

    Oh my gosh, I’m actually dying to make this recipe! It looks so amazing! Good thing I just picked up some ground turkey! And I love spicy foods too, how delicious!

    1. Laura

      I was going to note that ground turkey would work too! Good call. :)

  23. Heather (Where's the Beach)

    MMMM that’s totally up my alley. And the spicier the better in my book ;-)

  24. Allie

    Mmm. I love the idea of Mexican food + sweet potatoes .. sounds delish!

  25. Carol @ Lucky Zucca

    Who says orange food isn’t pretty?! This meal is gorgeous!! I want!!

  26. Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen)

    I like A LOT of heat! Hell, just let me take a shot of the hot sauce! You know I’m the sodium queen.

    1. Laura

      We soooo need to eat together one day soon. Battle of the heat thresholds!

  27. Jennifer Wade

    I want to lick the screen. This looks amazing, girly.

    1. Laura

      Thanks, friend! :)

  28. Cait's Plate

    Oh. MY GOODNESS! That looks good. You should seriously start a company where you delivery healthy meals to people. I’d totally buy it. :)

    1. Laura

      I wish I could too!!! Thank you. :)

  29. janet @ the taste space

    Looks delicious, Laura. What’s up with all the lasagnas these days? :-)

    1. Laura

      I think the winter season demands it… even if it is 70 degrees here.

  30. Kristina

    this sounds phenomenal… I love the flavors! Jason adds cinnamon to chili, so so good.

    and yes. there will always be margaritas. but I like them fresh, that mix is GAAH.

    1. Laura

      I can never understand how the mix people stay in business. Yack.

  31. Linz @ Itz Linz

    i love mexican food and these are great suggestions and a drool worthy recipe!!!

  32. STUFT Mama

    Holy smokes- seriously I would pay you to come make this for me. Yum yum yum! Dang you and all your marvelous recipes I get sucked into reading late at night. LOL. Hope you are well lady!!!

    1. Laura

      I would come make it for you for free.. Go to bed! :)

  33. Khushboo

    Yesss..you know I’ve been waiting for this recipe for a while! Love that they’re all ingredients I have on hand- can’t wait to try it! I am a server’s worst nightmare: grilled veggies instead of fries, dressing on the side, extra veggie add-ins…I hope my tipping makes up for it ;)!

    1. Laura

      Thank you!!! Let me know if you try it out. :)

  34. Kelly@Chow-Daily

    Yum, this looks delicious! Thanks for the tips about eating out at Mexican restaurants. I’m always hesitant to say yes when my friends want to grab mexican because I know I’ll crave something but end up ordering a boring salad while I get jealous of the tacos and burritos they’re eating, but these are good ideas. Definitely asking for fresh lime juice next time I order a margarita, I bet it makes it taste a hundred times better too!

    1. Laura

      You’ll love the margarita – they are better. Less artificial tasting.

  35. Nadiya

    I’m so excited to be in Mexico in a few days! I haven’t really had much Mexican food before but I can’t wait!

    1. Laura

      Lucky duck!!! Drink a margarita for me. :)

  36. Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets

    I love a little or a lot of spice in my food, and this sweet potato lasagne looks really good and easy enough. Lots of spices, but like you said, it’s a good thing. I’ll, of course, add cheese, but skip the chicken so it almost evens out. The only reason I gave up meat was to allow my cheese addiction to thrive. Of course, I’m super conscious of where my cheese comes from but it’s my true love so I couldn’t neglect it entirely.

    1. Laura

      I hear you on the cheese addiction! If it was on my nutrition plan I would have added cotija.

  37. Brittany @ Delights and Delectables

    I LOVE spicy food!! I didn’t even know there was such a thing as ground chicken!!

    1. Laura

      Yup! It’s really good, but if you can’t find it turkey would work too.

  38. kim@hungryhealthygirl

    This looks like such a great recipe! I love Mexican food and I love sweet potatoes!

  39. Heather @ Better With Veggies

    This looks awesome – I’m going to have to make this one for sure! And my tip (that I don’t follow as often as I used to) is to ask for tortillas instead of chips. Same theory, but not fried! :)

  40. Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli

    So true! Mexican food isn’t unhealthy on it’s own…it’s just the American way to bury it in a pile of cheese! I absolutely hate going to a Mexican restaurant and trying to find a dish that is NOT covered in “cheese sauce”…I mean, I’m not gonna lie, it’s some pretty tasty shiz, but seriously? Do we have to put it on 80% of the frickin’ menu?! I pretty much always order fajitas or fish/shrimp tacos whenever I go out…but they’re still not as good as mine! ;) And I absolutely love you for introducing me to the fresh lime juice margarita…my world has forever been changed since Cinco de Mayo!

    Now onto this recipe…

    Holy mother of deliciousness! That is one GORGEOUS pie m’dear! I really need to try more savory flavors with my sweet potatoes but I almost always go the sweet route (they’re just too damn good with nut butter and cottage cheese!). And I’m finally coming around to the heat…I had some Cholula on my eggs for lunch yesterday and totally thought of you!

    1. Laura

      I am the same way with sweet potatoes… but they really are good with the savory and heat. Sweet _ spicy, ftw. SO glad you are coming over to the chllula dark side. :)

  41. Katherine Stevens

    As the new mom who was the lucky recipient of this tasty dish I can say that it hit the spot and was the perfect meal for leftovers! It was a wonderful break from the boring soup and sandwich that I had been making for myself and the best part was getting to visit with my good friend when she brought it over!

    1. Laura

      Thank you so much Katherine!!! Can’t wait to see you again soon. You look amazing and your son is adorable!

  1. Marathon countdown, Menu Link up #11 + Mediterranean Snacks |

    [...] Thursday: Sweet Potato Mexican Pie [...]

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