Nov 19

When using traditional sweet potato casserole recipes, with their sugar, butter, eggs, nuts, and toasted marshmallow topping, Thanksgiving cooks across the U.S. will be cooking up the most fattening and unhealthy side dish on the Thanksgiving Day buffet. There are healthier sweet potato recipes, however, that can turn the traditional Thanksgiving tuber into a non-traditional side dish that is both nutritious and delicious. A brand new twist to a classic holiday artery clogger this Thanksgiving may well be the most welcome addition to the Thanksgiving feast, especially for family and friends who have only ever eaten yams in their most sickening sweet form.

The two sweet potato recipes below taste decadent, look pretty, and are completely vegetarian, using only animal free ingredients. Most people don’t consider “vegan” dishes like these to be desirable for any meal, and they certainly are not common on the menu of the most indulgent holiday meal of the year. That’s why self-taught award-winning home vegan cook Lauren Ulm has taken on the mission to make vegan recipes more appealing, and vegan cuisine more respected.

“When I first went vegan, it was a bit of a mystery to me, too. I was totally amazed that you didn’t need eggs and dairy for baking, and that the resulting treat tasted just as good,” Lauren writes in her cookbook, “Vegan Yum Yum.”

“I became sort of obsessed with creating vegan food, both savory and sweet, that would be enjoyed by even the staunchest carnivores.”

These two sweet potato recipes are included in Lauren’s book, “Vegan Yum Yum: Decadent (But Doable) Animal-Free Recipes for Entertaining and Everyday.” The are both great examples of Lauren’s success in her mission to make vegan food appealing to non-vegans. The first recipe is more traditional, since it has the sweetness that Thanksgiving diners have grown up to expect.

The second recipe is a non-traditional Vegan Yum Yum savory alternative that will undoubtedly shock most people because of its complete lack of sweetness. But after their initial surprise, your diners will be most likely be giving thanks to you for introducing them to a new taste and a new use for Thanksgiving’s most neglected vegetable.

Yum Yum Yams - Healthy Sweet Potato Thanksgiving Recipe

Yum Yum Yams - Healthy Sweet Potato Thanksgiving Recipe

Candied Lime Sweet Potatoes
(3-4 entree size servings)


2 sweet potatoes, peeled
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon molasses
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (no bottled stuff!)
Zest from1 small lime
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger of 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder (optional)
Earth Balance margarine, for dotting
Black pepper, to taste
Parsley or cilantro, for garnish

Step 1:

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Slice the sweet potatoes thin, about 1/8 inch, with a mandoline or a food processor.

Step 2:

In a bowl, mix together the sugar, molasses, salt, lime juice, lime zest, and ginger to form a paste.

Step 3:

Coat the sliced sweet potatoes well with the lime sugar mixture.

Step 4:

In an oiled casserole dish, arrange the coated slices in overlapping rows in one layer. Dot with margarine, sprinkle with pepper, and cover the dish lightly with two layers of aluminum foil.

Step 5:

Bake for 30 minutes, then remove foil and bake uncovered for an additional 10 minutes. It’s okay if it looks a little watery when you remove the foil; it’ll reduce and form a nice glaze during the rest of the baking

Step 6:

To finish, turn on the broiler and broil until the tops of the sweet potatoes are brown. Remove, sprinkle with black pepper and parsley or cilantro, and serve immediately.

Sweet Potatoes Can Be Savory Too

Non-vegans will love the decadence of the Alfredo sauce in this next sweet potato recipe so much that they won’t even realize that what they are eating is very healthy and completely animal-free. Vegans also love this dish because of the hearty combination of ingredients, which will provide them with a delicious main entree alternative to the traditional Thanksgiving turkey.

More Yum Yum Yams - A Savory Sweet Potato Recipe for Thanksgiving's Most Neglected Vegetable

More Yum Yum Yams - A Savory Sweet Potato Recipe for Thanksgiving's Most Neglected Vegetable

Sweet Potato Bake with Creamy Alfredo Sauce
(3-4 entree size servings)


3 cups fusili pasta (or other similar shape)
1 head kale, deveined and chopped
1 1/2 pound sweet potatoes

Alfredo Sauce:

1 1/4 cups soy milk
1/3 cup raw, unsalted cashews
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
3 tablespoons low-sodium tamari
2 tablespoons Earth Balance margarine
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 pinch nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon paprika, sweet or smoked (optional)
Black pepper, to taste
Bread crumbs, for topping (optional)

Step 1:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then add the pasta.

Step 2:

Two or three minutes before the pasta is completely cooked, add the chopped kale to the boiling water. When pasta is cooked and the kale is bright green but tender, drain and set aside.

Step 3:

Chop the sweet potatoes into bite-size chunks. Boil in salted water until tender, but not falling apart. Drain.

Step 4:

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Step 5:

To make the Alfredo sauce, blend the soy milk, cashews, nutritional yeast, tamari, margarine, tahini, lemon juice, mustard, ginger, nutmeg, thyme, paprika, and black pepper in a blender. Blend well for several minutes until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Taste and season, if necessary.

Step 6:

Combine the pasta, kale, and the sweet potatoes with the sauce and stir well. Place in a casserole dish and top with bread crumbs, if desired. Bake for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serve.

More About Lauren Ulm and Vegan Yum Yum:

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Nov 13

More than 4.5 million people were watching when Shay Sorrells got sent home from the Biggest Loser ranch in the reality show’s current season. Shay’s departure was significant because she was the popular weight loss show’s heaviest participant to date, weighing in at 470 pounds. She had lost 100 pounds before she was booted off, the most for any of the show’s female contestants on its boot camp “ranch.” The blogosphere was flooded with posts from fans who were rooting for Shay and were extremely saddened by her departure.

The show is filled with sad moments, but the saddest reality that the Biggest Loser has delivered so far is the realization that addiction is now so prevalent in the United States that it has become a popular source of prime time entertainment.

“It’s a national epidemic,” says HLN anchor, Jane Velez-Mitchell. The “it” that she’s dubbing as an epidemic is not obesity in particular, but rather the “it” epidemic of addiction in general.

“Ninety percent of the stories that we cover on ‘Issues’ are in some way, shape, or form, related to addiction,” Jane said in a recent interview with “Whether it’s alcohol, drugs, money, or sex, this comes up continuously. So it is one of the dominant issues of our time.”

Velez-Mitchell feels particularly qualified to comment on the American addiction epidemic not only because of her position as an internationally recognized news reporter, but also because she is a recovering addict herself. In her recently released memoir, “iWant: My Journey From Addiction and Overconsumption to a Simpler, Honest Life,” Velez-Mitchell reveals her own personal struggle to overcome a series of addictions – to alcohol, cigarettes, work, shopping, food and sugar.

“Addictions jump!” Jane writes in her book. “You give up one thing and something else pops up to take its place. The reason for this is obvious. Addicts will use whatever substance is available to escape and self-medicate.”

So while most of the “Biggest Loser” audience thinks they are watching obese contestants struggle with physical workouts and emotional breakdowns, what they’re really watching is the individual struggle to break an addiction to food as a drug of choice.

Shay Sorrells was one Biggest Loser contestant who seemed painfully aware of how she has used food as a drug to self-medicate throughout her life. The daughter of a heroin addict, Shay was immersed in the lifestyle of addiction in her earliest childhood. When her mother’s addiction caused Shay to be homeless for two years, the lack of food available during that time triggered Shay’s lifetime obsession with getting food and her addiction to consuming that food.

It is certainly easy to imagine the underlying terror and helplessness that Shay – or any pre-school child – would have felt in those childhood circumstances. It is also easy to understand how a young child could become dependent on some type of substance to soothe and medicate those feelings. Shay’s drug of choice was food. For other Americans who have pain that is overwhelming, the drug of choice could be cigarettes, pot, pills, alcohol, work, television, the internet, video games, sex, caffeine, or just about anything else that can be used to escape.

“The problem I have with alcoholism is a problem that millions share,” Velez-Mitchell said to That “problem” is not just alcoholism in particular, but the wide variety of addictions in general that an estimated 225 million American addicts are struggling with every day.

If there is, in fact, a common challenge that Americans are having with addictions, then there must also be a common thread running through the stories behind the addictions of Shay, Jane, and every other addict. Velez-Mitchell believes that there is a commonality, and in an effort to remove the stigma and shame from addiction, she created a CNN iReport Assignment for viewers to submit their addiction stories.

The dozens of stories that have been posted on the CNN’s iReport website so far illustrate that addictions can be found in every walk of life in America. The root causes behind the addictive self-medication are sometimes simple, sometimes complex, but always individually overwhelming. The “iReporters” who have shared their addiction stories include:

- A real estate agent who got addicted to crystal meth and went from making $200,000 per year to sleeping in the bushes behind a McDonald’s

- A war veteran whose wife, mother, mother-in-law, and brother all died as a result of their addictions to drugs and alcohol

- A California woman who was given alcohol in her baby bottles when she was teething

- A man who started smoking at the age of eight because the Marlboro Man was one of his role models

- A cheerleader who started drinking to overcome painful shyness

- A woman who had become addicted to food after being abused at age eight, and then became addicted to purging to allow more compulsive eating

- A teen who became addicted to cutting herself after being locked in her closet for most of her childhood

It is these kinds of stories that Velez-Mitchell believes need to be told. She broke her own 12-step vow of anonymity to write “iWant” in order to give the national addiction epidemic a face and a voice. “I wanted to share my experience to try to prevent someone else from going through the hell that I went through,” Velez-Mitchell told about writing her memoir. “Why waste a good problem?”

HLN will be accepting addiction stories at through November 20, 2009. iReport submissions chosen to be included on “Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell will receive an autographed copy of “iWant” and will become a candidate to visit Jane on the set of “Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell” in New York.

More About Jane Velez-Mitchell and “iWant”:

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Nov 11

Coinciding with the one-year anniversary of the Hudson River landing of US Airways Flight 1549, Brace for Impact: Miracle on the Hudson Survivors Share Their Stories of Near Death and Hope for New Life , written by Kevin Quirk and Dorothy Firman, is the only book written in the words of 25 survivors detailing the impact their close encounter with death has had on them and their lives—both good and bad—over the past year. Each of the stories, as told to the authors, are compelling and thematically arranged, and includes life lessons readers will find helpful and inspirational in their own struggles for resilience.

The story of Captain “Sully” Sullenberger’s miraculous landing, the heroic acts of first responders, and the images of 150 grateful souls stepping off those water-coated wings to safety with nothing worse than soggy clothes and minor injuries has touched the world. There have been hundreds of high-profile media accounts and recent documentaries recounting the ins and outs of this stunning tale of survival against all odds and this “Miracle on the Hudson”, but Brace for Impact focuses primarily on an entirely different dimension to this captivating story: life after the crash.

This is the different, more meaningful, and more timely story that has yet to be told. What happened to these passengers when they went home to their families, their homes, their jobs, and everything else familiar but somehow not the same? What has been the real impact? Not of a disastrous crash, but instead the gift of a “new” life? What can we learn from the honest and open sharing of ordinary people who came back from the brink of death? Brace for Impact answers those questions and more by taking readers inside the hearts, minds and souls of 25 passengers. This inspirational book is designed to stir, encourage, and uplift anyone already moved by this stunning near-death experience and anyone seeking meaning during today’s troubled times.

Co-author Dorothy Firman is the New York Times best-selling coauthor of Chicken Soup for the Mother and Daughter Soul, and two other books in the Chicken Soup series. Co-author Kevin Quirk is the author of Not Now, Honey, I’m Watching the Game, which was featured on 20/20, CBS, NPR, Redbook, the Washington Post, and more than 100 other media and Internet forums.

For More Information visit the Miracle on the Hudson Survivors Blog where you will be able to read more stories, watch videos and correspond with the passengers.

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