This healthy sweet potato casserole recipe is made with pecans and canned sweet potato for an easy Thanksgiving side dish or dessert. Dairy-free and gluten free, this vegan-friendly sweet potato casserole is creamy and decadent, and yet guilt-free thanks to ghee (can swap coconut oil if vegan), coconut milk and maple syrup (read: refined sugar-free too!).
UPDATE: This post was originally published in November 2017.
This post is sponsored by Sprouts Farmers Market. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make it possible for Root + Revel to provide free content and healthy living inspiration.
I've been sharing tons of seasonal, Thanksgiving and Holiday recipes on the blog lately, and I feel like I'm running out of ways to remind y'all that comfort food can be healthy AND delicious!
So I'm just going to get right to it and use the classic journalist technique of “show, don't tell”.
When it comes to Thanksgiving, vegetable-heavy sides are already staples on most everyone's table. Which is perfect because veggie side dishes are the perfect plant-based, family-style recipes that are great for sharing, which is what the holidays isareeally all about, right?
Of course, a lot of said veggie sides are also loaded with heavy cream and cheese, refined flour and sugar and other inflammatory ingredients that generally make us feel gross.
But not this recipe! This healthy sweet potato casserole turns the classic dish on its head with a gluten-free, flour-free and naturally sweetened pecan crumble that's crispy and indulgent on top of the creamiest, most velvety sweet potatoes you've ever had without an ounce of dairy.
High in protein and fiber, this healthy sweet potato casserole is bursting with Vitamin A, Iron, Magnesium and Vitamin C! And it's chockfull of heart-healthy fats.
Oh and did I mention that it takes less than 10 minutes of prep to make? Yeah, easy sweet potato casserole that's actually good for you. This is happening, people.
So how did I do it?
Use Canned Sweet Potatoes for the Casserole
Step one: save your stove space and energy and use canned sweet potatoes in this recipe. You can buy organic sweet potato puree in BPA-free cans at Sprouts and all the work of having to boil and mash and hassle with cooking the potatoes for your filling is done for you.
I'm all about easy on Thanksgiving…well really anytime. Especially when the taste and nutrition is the same. Check and check!
How to Make Sweet Potato Casserole without Dairy
Long time readers know that I'm not opposed to dairy, or cutting out any food groups as a whole. I hate being dogmatic about food and believe there is room for ALL FOOD in a healthy, balanced diet.
That being said, the holidays are filled with dairy-laden dishes, from eggnog and mashed potatoes to casseroles and buttered rolls and gravy. So when I can make a swap to minimize my intake with no discernible difference in taste or texture, and make Thanksgiving look less like a dairy eating competition, I do it!
Here, I swapped traditional milk or heavy cream for coconut milk. It's rich, creamy, dreamy, sweet and pairs perfectly with sweet potatoes and cinnamon and vanilla. Trust me.
I also swapped regular butter for ghee: while not vegan, ghee has all of the health benefits of grass-fed butter, but without the lactose and casein (milk solids). Meaning, and this is pretty cool, ghee is dairy-free, making it a brilliant option for anyone with allergies, gut issues or vegetarian leanings (source).
Sprouts just released a brand new grass-fed ghee and it is SO delicious, especially in this healthy sweet potato recipe (and the recent slow cooker apple crisp recipe we shared last month!).
I mean just look at that spoonful of heaven right there–if that doesn't scream Thanksgiving to you, then you must…not be from around here? hate comfort food? be a masochist? What is the end of that sentence?
I promise you, if you serve this to your family without giving them the heads up that there's no dairy or gluten or flour or refined sugar in the recipe, NOBODY WILL KNOW.
Let's do this as an experiment…make this recipe, don't tell anyone how healthy it actually is until after they're done eating it and licking their plates and asking for
seconds fifths and see if anyone bats an eye.
This is the Root + Revel way–recipes that are so delicious that ANYONE would love them and then, oh wait, what's this!??!… it's actually super good for you, too!
How to Make Sweet Potato Casserole Without Refined Sugar
Oh yeah, so I mentioned this recipe also has no refined sugar (that's white table sugar).
There are two opportunities to add refined sugar to sweet potato casserole–the filling and the topping. Most traditional recipes call for white table sugar, which is pretty much always avoided if you eat real food.
But that doesn't mean you have to forgo all sweets. There are plenty of healthier, unrefined sweeteners out there. In this healthy sweet potato casserole recipe, we're using organic maple syrup and unrefined, organic dark brown sugar.
While some companies sell brown sugar that's made by adding molasses to white sugar, Wholesome Sweeteners! does it right–they actually never remove the molasses from the sugar cane during production.
So their organic dark brown sugar is natural and unrefined, making it a purer and healthier choice. Plus, when compared to light brown sugar, you're also getting a more complex, deeper flavor, with notes of caramel and toffee. Yes please!
How can you tell if the brown sugar you're buying is refined or unrefined? Look at the ingredients! Unrefined will just list one ingredient: Organic Brown Sugar. Refined will list at least two: Cane Sugar and Molasses.
Because of its molasses content, brown sugar does contain more minerals, most notably calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium, than white sugar, which contains none of these.
But let's be honest: sugar is sugar is sugar. While using an unrefined, organic brown sugar is a better choice, I think you'd be hardpressed to find any nutrition experts to recommend eating it in large quantities.
That's why we use just 1/3 of a cup in this recipe, which adds a hint of sweetness in a more balanced and nuanced way. Moderation folks, say it with me now.
Another reason I love Wholesome Sweeteners–their brown sugar is USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, and Fair Trade Certified. What exactly does this mean?
It means there's a strong commitment to sustainable agriculture–their sugar cane fields are green cut and are not burned or treated with herbicides or synthetic fertilizers. It's better for the environment, for your health and there are no chemicals, bone char, or animal by-products used to make or de-colorize this sugar, making it ideal for vegans too.
You can find Wholesome's brown sugar, organic maple syrup and all of the other ingredients you need for this recipe at Sprouts Farmers Market, which specializes in healthy, natural and organic food at affordable prices!
Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe
So there you have it: another healthy comfort food recipe that looks and tastes as good as it will make you feel!
Serve it as a side at Thanksgiving, eat it for breakfast the next morning, gobble it up for dessert after your apple crisp runs out. Whatever you do, share it with someone you love.
This healthy sweet potato casserole makes enough for 12, so it's the perfect plant-based, family-style dish to pass around your table this holiday season. Cheers!
Easy + Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecans
For the topping:
- Preheat oven to 350 F. In a food processor, combine all topping ingredients. Lightly pulse until just crumbled, you don't want the mixture to be too fine, just roughly chopped and combined. Likely just quick 3-5 pulses will do the trick. Set mixture aside, and wipe the food processor clean with a paper towel.
- In the same food processor, combine all the ingredients for the filling. Pulse until smooth and thoroughly combined.
- In a large baking dish, pour sweet potato filling and spread into an even layer. Top with pecan crumble. Bake fore 30 minutes, or until crumble topping is lightly browned. If you like it extra crispy, you can broil for 1 minute--just be sure not to burn the nuts. Serve and enjoy!
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser
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