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Fall Fest 2010: Improving the Thanksgiving Side Dish

Posted Nov 10 2010 11:32am
I'm talking about one Thanksgiving side dish that has reached "tradition" status in many a household: the sweet potato casserole. You know, the one filled with canned sweet potato, tons of sugar, topped with marshmallows? Yeah, that one. It has a few variations - like the kind with sweetened condensed milk in addition to the tons of sugar, or the kind with crushed sugared cornflakes on top instead of marshmallows - but they all have one thing in common: a lot of extra sugar. And I mean a lot.

Which is something I don't really get. Aren't sweet potatoes, well, umm.... sweet? Do they really need all that extra sugar?

I think not.

Which is one reason why I found a totally different sweet potato recipe that uses minimal sugar and lets the sweet potato flavor shine through. Try it this Thanksgiving and see if your family doesn't love it, too! I've made this recipe many times, mostly for my Certain Little Someone, who looooooooovvveeessss sweet potatoes, and can't have all the milk and egg that are often found in traditional sweet potato recipes. It's one of my favorite ways to prepare sweet potatoes for him, and it also receives rave reviews when I serve it to guests or at other events.

Note: I'm usually making this for my Certain Little Someone, so the recipe is scaled down. I find it's actually pretty convenient, though: all the other ingredient ratios are based on one sweet potato, so you can multiply them to fit however many sweet potatoes and/or guests you are serving.

Sweet-Enough Sweet Potatoes
For each sweet potato, you will need 2 TBSP coconut oil
1 TBSP raw sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper

Wash, peel and slice the sweet potato. Place the coconut oil in a square baking dish and place in oven heated to 375F for about 5 minutes. Remove from oven, and carefully add the sliced sweet potatoes, turning with a spatula until all are covered with the oil. Return to oven and bake for about 10 minutes. While they're baking, mix the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Remove sweet potatoes from oven and sprinkle with the cinnamon mixture. Stir carefully with spatula until all pieces are covered, Return pan to oven and continue to bake at least 10 minutes, until potatoes are soft and easily pierced with a fork. (It may take up to 20 minutes.)  Drain sweet potatoes on paper towel, then remove to serving bowl.

The original recipe I found suggested drizzling some fresh lime juice over the sweet potatoes just before serving, which is a great gourmet touch, perfect for your Thanksgiving table. I have to admit, though, that I haven't found it to change the taste significantly, so I usually just omit that part and consider it purely optional!

This is just as QUICK as the famous sweet potato casserole, despite the fact that it starts with fresh rather than canned sweet potato.

It's very EASY, too. It's very much like roasting vegetables, which anyone can do.

It is much CHEAPer than a regular sweet potato casserole because there are no marshmallows or sweetened condensed milk, both of which add at least $1 to the cost.

It is so. much. HEALTHY-er than that other recipe, too. Aside from the little bit of sugar, the ingredients are all very basic, good-for-you ingredients.

Add it to your Thanksgiving menu!

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