Lower Sugar Sweet Potato Casserole

Lower Sugar Sweet Potato Casserole
Lower Sugar Sweet Potato Casserole

I grew up on the sort of sweet potato casserole that is topped with marshmallows, and I love the stuff.

One Thanksgiving in California is vividly stamped in my mind — the year we visited my grandparents and I realized for the first time that my grandma cooked almost every dish for Thanksgiving dinner in the microwave. IN THE MICROWAVE! Coming from rather culinary parents, it was a bit of a shock, and I’m not sure why I hadn’t noticed in previous years (I don’t even remember other Thanksgiving dinners at their house; maybe this was a first).

Anyways… this sweet potato casserole is not made in the microwave (do I even need to say that?) and so it’s off to a far superior start already! But it’s also been revised in other ways, calling for less sugar and being topped with crumbly, crispy pecans and oats instead of marshmallows. Because, sugar and marshmallows just don’t leave me feeling my best.

Sweet potatoes are quite sweet as they are, so adding sugar to the filling feels unnecessary (most recipes call for 1/4 to 1/2 cup of added sugar). In this version the filling is “natural,” meaning all the sweetness comes from the sweet potatoes, and the topping is made with maple syrup and cinnamon (which has sweet notes of it’s own!).

As Oliver would say, this dish comes out of the oven “smelling sweeter than a plate of yams with extra syrup.”

Lower Sugar Sweet Potato Casserole
Lower Sugar Sweet Potato Casserole

Tip: Cook the sweet potatoes ahead of time! You can cook the potatoes up to three days before you’re going to make this casserole. Here are a couple of ways to cook them (affiliate links ahead!):

  • In an Instant Pot: Place whole sweet potatoes in your Instant Pot with 1 cup of water (use a steamer basket if you have one). Use manual mode and set to high for 15 minutes (vent in sealed position). Allow pressure to release naturally, then open pot. Allow potatoes to cool, and then remove skins, which should easily pull off at this point.

  • In an oven: Preheat oven to 425°F. Prick sweet potatoes with a fork and rub with oil (such as coconut oil). Place potatoes on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or a sil-pat and bake for 45 minutes.

In both of these methods, the natural sugars in the sweet potatoes will caramelize so that your sweet potato casserole tastes sweet without the added sugar.

Thanksgiving is THIS WEEK. What else are you making? What’s your favorite thing once you sit down at the table?

Lower Sugar Sweet Potato Casserole

Lower Sugar Sweet Potato Casserole

Published November 20, 2018 by
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Serves: 4   |    Active Time: 4 hours


  • 3-4 cups mashed sweet potato
  • 1/4 cup half and half or canned coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter or coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • For Crumble Topping:
  • 1/4 cup melted butter or coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 heaping cup rolled oats
  • 1 heaping cup pecan halves

  • Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
    2. Combine the first five ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until well incorporated.
    3. Spread sweet potato mixture in an even layer in a 9x9 baking dish.
    4. In a separate bowl, combine ingredients for crumble topping. Spread crumble topping in an even layer over the sweet potatoes.
    5. Place baking dish in the middle rack of the oven and bake 25-30 minutes. Sweet potatoes should be warmed through and pecans on top should be lightly toasted. Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.

    Instant Pot Spicy Ginger Sweet Potato Soup

    Spicy Ginger Sweet Potato Soup
    Spicy Ginger Sweet Potato Soup

    Pairs well with grey days, warm slices of sourdough toast, and your favorite mug. We’re talking about this Spicy Ginger Sweet Potato Soup.

    Often times, sweet potato soups (and for that matter, pumpkin and butternut squash soups) are too sweet for me. This one employs a generous amount of shallots, roasted garlic, fresh ginger, and a dash of cayenne to balance that out. Plus, it’s velvety smooth, thanks to a can of coconut milk.

    The result is a soup that is like one big creamy autumn hug. Which, sometimes you just need.

    We keep our house at a brisk 62°F during the winter months, and I’ve grown used to living in my slippers and wrapped up in a blanket. (That’s not a complaint, I do like being all bundled up and cozy!) Something warm to sip on or slurp is definitely a bonus on the chilliest days!

    Keep things simple, by topping your mug with cilantro and cayenne, or if you’re feeling fancy try crème fraîche (I love a good dollop of crème fraîche, though I’m never quite well enough prepared when the time is right.)

    Spicy Ginger Sweet Potato Soup
    Spicy Ginger Sweet Potato Soup

    Instant Pot Spicy Ginger Sweet Potato Soup

    Published November 1, 2018 by
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    Serves: 6   |    Active Time: 30 minutes


  • 2-3 shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 3 pounds sweet potato, washed and peeled
  • 1 15-ounce can coconut milk
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Dash ground cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Optional, to serve: minced cilantro, additional cayenne, and/or crème fraîche

  • Directions:

    1. Heat coconut oil in the bottom of your Instant Pot (affiliate link!) on the sauté setting.
    2. Sauté the shallots, ginger, and garlic until fragrant and shallots being to turn translucent.
    3. Roughly chop sweet potatoes and place in pot, along with coconut milk and broth.
    4. Add nutmeg, cayenne, ground black pepper, and salt. Place lid on Instant Pot and set to “Soup” setting, with the timer at 7 minutes and the vent sealed.
    5. After the timer goes off, release the pressure. Using an immersion blender (I use this one (affiliate link!)) puree soup to desired consistency. You can make it super silky smoothy, or leave a few small chunks if you prefer.
    6. Serve soup hot, topped with cilantro, additional cayenne, and/or crème fraîche as desired.

    Sweet Potato & Kale Breakfast Skillet

    Sweet Potato & Kale Breakfast Skillet

    This post was written three times over, which is two times more than the norm. First I wrote about something so unremarkable I can’t even remember it. Later that night I read an article on climate change and it left me unsatisfied. Shouldn’t I write about something worth taking action on? Something that actually matters? So then I wrote the post again, and attempted to find that perfect balance you need to strike when writing a post like this — but I’m not sure I ever found it. So, fair warning: it is a bit of a rant. If you’d prefer to just scroll right on by and get the recipe, I won’t even know it.

    “Perfection is the enemy of good and done,” so let’s just get down to it.

    8,030. That’s how many days are in twenty-two years.

    It will be the year 2040. By then, I’ll be 49.

    How about you?

    By 2040, the International Panel on Climate Change predicts the planet will increase in temperature by 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (you may already know this, it’s not the newest of news). It’s a minuscule difference, something that seems like nothing — barely discernible to the human body - but oh, it is most certainly not nothing.

    The impact of 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit? “Worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs.”

    Sweet Potato & Kale Breakfast Skillet
    Sweet Potato & Kale Breakfast Skillet

    This blog has never touched on political issues before. That was intentional. And that’s not likely to change, aside from this one blog post. (TBH, it's absurd to me that keeping our planet live-able is even a political issue.) But I felt a need to say something, to spread the word, so here we are.

    Because in the end all of us — you, me, and 7.2 billion other people - have to face this together. And while it feels, in so many ways, out of our hands (I get it), it doesn’t mean we can’t try.

    I am a fairly environmentally conscious person but have never been an extremist by any definition, so I’ve been thinking about what I can do that still fits into my life. Tiny things that will add up. I already drive a hybrid car (though I could take the time to walk more places!), and we compost and recycle regularly. But what else?

    Here is my running list so far — things that have just been on my mind.

    • No food waste. I have already been much more aware of food waste and what it means to eat “root to stem” in the last few months. We are still eating crops harvested from the garden, but our first frost hit earlier this month so very few crops are still growing. Of course I knew this would happen, but going from growing most of our own food to figuring out how to preserve what we have has made me super aware of how the first homesteaders had their work cut out for them just to get through winter — and here I can just pop over to the store when our pile of squash runs out (or when we just don’t want to eat squash!!). So what? Eating local is on just about every “how to live an eco-friendly life” list,  but it’s just not realistic in every location. Our Farmer’s Market is only around in the fair weather months, and all I’ll be harvesting for the next six months is hearty greens. I’ll have to buy some food that was produced far, far away, and that’s just reality (at least for me, in the suburbs, where growing tons of grow beans, grain, or livestock isn’t realistic). But when I do, I’ll do my absolute best to make sure not a bit of it goes to waste. (Eh-hem, like that suuuupper crusty sourdough I made last week, which was basically a giant bread cracker. Strata, stuffing, bread crumbs... here we come!)

    • Buy less. In college, I had a self-enforced rule that when I wanted to buy something (new clothes, jewelry, etc), I would put it on a list and wait for a month. If I still wanted it in a month, then I really wanted it — it wasn’t just an impulse buy. Back then, the rule was put into place because of financial reasons (college student making minimum wage!), but it’s a really practical rule. It is easy to get just about anything delivered to your door overnight now, and sometimes our recycling bin fills up over the course of just a few days! It’s not just the packaging thought — the amount of energy that goes into getting something from point A to B is a lot!

    • Tame my wanderlust. I get this craving to see new places — to see the world. (Typical Millennial of me). But one round trip cross-country is a lot of greenhouse gases, and driving — or better yet carpooling - is more efficient in terms of CO2 emissions. I am very lucky to have travel a lot over the last twenty years, which I am so thankful for. Those trips molded my mind and made me who I am. But! There is no denying that all those plane tickets fuel an industry that’s putting of a lot of greenhouse gases. So, next time a case of wanderlust creeps up on me, I’m going to try to remember this paragraph, and go somewhere local instead. (Just this last weekend, we did a biking brewery tour of a near-by town and it was like being on vacation — so many places right here I’ve never seen!)

    • Support brands making eco-friendly decisions. I am just one person, but companies are made up of dozens (if not hundreds) of people, and are serving many many more. When they make eco-friendly decisions (like using recycled packaging, buying organic ingredients, or avoiding harsh chemicals) they make a big difference faster.

    • Collect and reuse water. For a long time in the state of Colorado, collecting rainwater was not permitted, but that changed two years ago. I’ve considered getting water barrels for watering my plants several times, but have never actually done it. Recently, I’ve been pondering what other water can be collected — for example, using water from rinsing dishes (avoiding harsh soaps) to water trees. A half baked plan, just something in my head.

    We’re also considering getting solar panels on our house, but that’s not so much a resolution as it is something we’ve always planned to do.

    That’s it for today. Just a rant and a resolution. And a breakfast!! Something that you can totally make from local ingredients almost no matter where you live, all year round.

    Sweet Potato & Kale Breakfast Skillet

    Sweet Potato & Kale Breakfast Skillet

    Published October 18, 2018 by
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    Serves: 3   |    Active Time: 30 minutes


  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 packed cup kale, chopped small
  • Salt & pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese crumbles

  • Directions:

    1. Heat coconut oil in skillet over medium heat. Add diced onion, minced garlic, and cubed sweet potato to pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
    2. Add chopped kale, and cook for 2 minutes, allowing greens to wilt.
    3. Crack the eggs into the pan. Cook for 3-5 more minutes, until egg whites are cooked through and yolks are cooked to your preferences. Top with crumbled goat cheese, and season to taste with salt & pepper. Serve hot.

    Sweet Potato & Kale Breakfast Skillet