April 12, 2013

Creamy Sweets & Grits

This post has been a long time coming. Thank you for being patient. I promise, by the end of this short intro, you’ll be happy.

Shrimps and grits. It’s been requested a few times. Times a hundred. And while I’ve know all along that I could conquer this high sodium recipe — with its typical cheese and shrimps and salty spices —  I wanted to do it perfectly. Without the shrimps. Without the cheese. And without the sodium. But with all the creamy, smoky, succulent flavors that you’re looking for. I wanted to create something that would not only satisfy your cravings, but be worthy of your next brunch or dinner party. I wanted to make something special.

So I waited until I had time and clarity. Until there was no more Thanksgiving, or Passover, or Heart Health Month to meddle with. I waited for a day when I could commit completely to making over those Shrimps and Grits. And that day finally arrived.

On that day, I asked my oven if it was free and then I invited some sweet potatoes and cherry tomatoes to come over and play. I grabbed a handful (or three) of gritty, yellow cornmeal from my cupboard (because you should ALWAYS have some on hand). And I made sure I had  a cup-full of FAGE Greek yogurt in the fridge (because you should ALWAYS have some in the fridge). Then I got to work. And guess what? Those Shrimps and Grits got that makeover. And they liked it.

Say hello to Sweets and Grits. Your new best friend. I think you’ll really like each other.

With a good rub down of oil; a spice mix of smoked paprika, cumin, chipotle powder, black pepper, and garlic powder; and a roast in the oven, your grits won’t even miss the shrimps. They’ll even ask you where sweet potatoes and cherry tomatoes have been hiding all this time.

Meanwhile, that FAGE yogurt will take care of the rest. After cooking up your gritty grits as you normally would (see: recipe below), simply dump a cup of the good stuff into the grits. Watch it melt and ooze and marble the yellow grits with cool creamy swirls.

Than lay a healthy pile of it on a plate, where it will melt a bit more. Top with your spiced sweets and tomatoes. Sprinkle with fresh herbs, like chives or parsley if you have some on hand. Give it a sprinkle of chili pepper flakes or a squeeze of lime too if you want to get wild.

And that’s it. Sweets and Grits. Simple, juicy, creamy, scrumptious, goody goody, yum yum. I’m so glad we made this.

Chow on.



      • 1/4 tsp cumin
      • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
      • 1/4 tsp chipotle powder
      • 1/4 tsp salt-free garlic powder
      • 1/4 tsp frshly ground black pepper
      • Pinch cayenne pepper
      • Vegetable oil
      • 1 medium sweet potato, washed and peeled
      • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
      • 2 cups water
      • 1 1/2 cups orange juice
      • 1 cup yellow stone ground grits (aka polenta)
      • 1 cup FAGE Greek Yogurt
      • Chopped fresh herbs (chives, parsley, dill) for sprinkling


To begin, heat your oven to 375 dgF.

While it gets hot, mix your spices in a small bowl. Then, chop your sweet potato into 1-inch-thick rounds and then cut them in half, so you have a bunch of half-moon sweet potato chunks. (These are your shrimp impersonators. Introduce yourself and make nice).

Then, in a medium bowl, mix the sweet potato chunks with a few tablespoons of vegetable oil until they are nice and slick. Sprinkle in your spices with one hand while you toss the now greased-up sweet potatoes with the other hand, making sure the spices are equally distributed. Set aside and wash your paws.

When the oven is ready, place the spicy sweet potatoes and your cherry tomatoes in a non-stick (or greased) baking sheet, in a single layer. If they are mixed up, though, that is totally fine. Don’t worry.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and let the veggies roast for 35 – 40 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time, though, give them a good stir so nothing sticks to or burns on the pan.

With about 15 minutes of cooking time left, it is time to start your grits. Bring the water and orange juice to a boil in a large pot. Add the grits and stir or whisk constantly to prevent clumping. Lower heat and continue stirring until the liquid is absorbed. It should take about 12 – 15 minutes. But do follow directions on packaging as different polenta brands have different cooking times. Taste the polenta and add more water if it seems too gritty or dry.

Remove your sweet potatoes and tomatoes from the oven and set aside. Add the Greek yogurt to your grits and continue swirling and cooking for 5 more minutes.

Finally, scoop generous spoonfuls of polenta on a plate or bowl. Place the sweet potatoes and cherry tomatoes on top. Sprinkle with herbs. Provide a spoon. Enjoy.

+ Sodium Count: Sweet potato: 72mg per medium sweet potato; Cherry tomatoes: 7mg per cup; Plain Greek yogurt: 60mg per 6-ounce container, depending on brand 


Smithy April 12, 2013 at 4:19 pm

Oh how yummy sounding! Love the addition of sweet potato. I am definitely planning to make this. Being from the south, and having been fed grits and eggs for babyfood, I am always working on getting grits to taste better without salt. However, from my point of view, polenta isn’t grits. Sacrilege on my part is that I’ve come to love polenta a bit better than southern white grits. But, I do have to cook good old white grits and eggs every now and then. I use grated ginger (a tablespoon or more) and I add coconut kefir (cultured coconut milk) because I can’t have milk or yogurt anymore. A half teaspoon or so of sesame oil helps give a bit of smokey hint. I must admit I do add unsalted butter (which I can have). Then top with soft scrambled eggs and black pepper.

Ana Lydia April 13, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Definitely yum yum! I love the post and the recipe. It’s sunday tomorrow and I’ll have all the time to prepare sweets and grits to impress and please dear old hubby. I’ll add both, a sprinkle of chilli pepper flakes a some lime to make it a treat for the taste buds.

Thanks for the post!

Elizabeth Grace April 14, 2013 at 6:09 pm

This recipe sounds amazing! Thank you so much for all your hard work. I can’t wait to try this.

Susan April 14, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Super delicious. Iam making this for my family over the weekend. I need to get this right.

Thank you so much for making this recipe.

Sara April 15, 2013 at 8:47 am

I love shrimp and grits. I used to live in Charleston, SC and I would eat shrimp and grits at least once a month. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

Harriet April 21, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Why did you have to leave out the shrimp? If you look hard enough, you will often be able to find frozen shrimp with no added salt (Whole Foods is an excellent place to try if you strike out at your local supermarket). These generally have 130-160 mg sodium per standard serving, which means a low-sodium person should be able to eat several shrimp at a meal and stay within their limits.

jessg23 April 24, 2013 at 11:32 am

Harriet – you are correct! Whole Foods sells packaged shrimp that have 130-160mg of sodium per serving. This is still too high for, so I wanted to create an alternative. Plus, this is a great recipe for those who are allergic to shell fish as well.

Ed April 23, 2013 at 2:54 am

This looks really delicious. Just the dish I need for my birthday which is around the corner. I like this recipe because it does not contain a lot of salt, and that is good for my health.


Oui, Chef April 23, 2013 at 8:42 am


Matt G April 24, 2013 at 12:32 am

Looks good. Thanks for sharing this one. I like to try things with sweet potatos!

Greg April 24, 2013 at 9:33 am

Wow, this sounds really neat! As a bonus, it’s gluten free for my wife. I like adding a bit of brown sugar to my grits, but I’ll try it with orange juice.

Lisa April 26, 2013 at 11:03 am

Looks delicious! My mouth is already full of water, haha. Can’t wait to try 🙂

Shaun May 3, 2013 at 9:11 am

I love the idea of using sweet potatoes. I usually make a pork tenderloin with grits but this appears not only healthy but delicious

Lee Daniel May 3, 2013 at 11:42 am

Great use of sweet potatoes! I will definitely try this, as I could never have made it with Shrimp anyway (my wife is allergic to shellfish).

Kelly Yamauchi May 7, 2013 at 5:12 am

Wow! This recipe looks very delicious. Just mere looking at these photos made me so hungry. I will try this at home. Thanks for sharing! 😀

Michelle R May 18, 2013 at 2:34 pm

I’m a sweet potato lover, so I know I will love this. I love shrimp also, but for a much healthier recipe, I’m sure I can leave it out.

Sadie May 24, 2013 at 2:47 pm

This sounds great! I’m a huge fan of grits (can’t be Southern and not like grits!) but I’ve never gotten very creative always sticking to basics. I really like the mix of flavors here. Going to have to give this a try
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Linda October 1, 2013 at 3:09 am

I like the mashed potato with the meat above it looks yummy.

Lyn, the lifestyle artist October 19, 2013 at 5:40 am

I have never tried shrimp and grits for myself but I was definitely intrigued by this recipe. I loved the style that you wrote it out in too because it was just so cute. Definitely thanks for the recipe and the yummy pics that make me really want to try it.

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