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.
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
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Slice the sweet potatoes thin, about 1/8 inch, with a mandoline or a food processor.
In a bowl, mix together the sugar, molasses, salt, lime juice, lime zest, and ginger to form a paste.
Coat the sliced sweet potatoes well with the lime sugar mixture.
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.
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
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.
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
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)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then add the pasta.
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.
Chop the sweet potatoes into bite-size chunks. Boil in salted water until tender, but not falling apart. Drain.
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
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.
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.
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