Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes are vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free (you get the point!) and taste amazing. Leftovers are great reheated and can be used for satisfying breakfast bowls.

Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes are vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free (you get the point!) and taste amazing. Leftovers are great reheated and can even be used for satisfying breakfast bowls.

 

During a recent foray into my sons’ closets, I uncovered a bag of clothes that appeared as good as new. Though both of my sons had worn the assortment of khakis, shirts and shorts, it coincided with some particularly impressive growth spurts, so none of the clothing fit for long.

I knew from past volunteer work that the Lancaster County Council of Churches has a well-established clothing bank, so it was reason to reach out to Gail Rittenhouse, who took over as executive director of the organization in June of 2017.

When I made my delivery later that day, Gail expressed special appreciation for the stack of boys’ clothes, as items for girls and women typically outpace those for boys and men. While I was there, however, Gail was equally excited to show me the impressive array of fresh foods being offered through the Council’s Food Hub.

The Council’s Food Hub is the largest free food pantry in the county, serving upwards of 30,000 people annually. Gail stressed that their mission is not simply to meet the immediate need of hunger and food insecurity but to provide fresh and healthy options for their clients to enjoy.

To that end, Gail showed me boxes full of crisp vegetables, seasonal fruits, block cheeses, fresh eggs and fillets of fish that were being readied for distribution with the pantry staples. It was an impressive array of high quality food, and I wondered where it all came from.

Target, Costco, Giant, Weis and Panera Bread have been longstanding supporters of the Food Hub, and since opening to our community in recent months, Whole Foods and Wegmans have embraced the Food Hub’s mission with incredible generosity. Additionally, during the growing season, the Council works with several CSAs, which grow a variety of produce especially for the Hub.

Leading into the holidays, the Hub distributes turkeys and other seasonal fare and occasionally offers recipes to encourage use of new ingredients.

Because Food Hub clients are just like everyone else, dietary restrictions and preferences come into play. Accordingly, the Hub accommodates these needs through meatless, diabetic and gluten-free offerings.

When entertaining in our own homes, accommodating the dietary needs of friends and family can be challenging – and especially so during the holidays. After cooking a turkey and stuffing with all the fixings, finding the time and energy to provide for special needs isn’t easy.

Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes are vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free (you get the point!) and taste amazing. Leftovers are great reheated and can be used for satisfying breakfast bowls.

The following recipe is one of several I have shared with the Food Hub and shows how a classic holiday offering can be prepared in a way that works for a variety of eating styles.

Canned coconut milk, for example, is a convenient pantry staple that offers a dairy-free alternative to cream. It also eliminates the need for butter while supplying a lightly aromatic flavor that complements orange vegetables beautifully. Vegans around the table may find a hearty helping of this wholesome side dish especially satisfying with a sprinkle of toasted nuts or seeds. (Candied pecans are a personal favorite.)

Maple syrup lightly enhances the natural sweetness of the potatoes and can be easily adjusted to taste. I’ve made the recipe with ground cinnamon and powdered ginger, but my preference is to keep it simple with a light touch of freshly grated ginger and a pinch of cayenne. Both mingle quite nicely with the sweeter ingredients.

Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes are vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free (you get the point!) and taste amazing. Leftovers are great reheated and can be used for satisfying breakfast bowls.

My family tradition has never included sweet potatoes with a marshmallow topping, but you could certainly try it. (Interestingly, most marshmallows are dairy-free, but because they typically contain gelatin, not vegan.)

Leftovers reheat well, and though it may sound strange, I often enjoy them for breakfast as I would a bowl of oatmeal, warming them and topping with a sprinkle of granola, nuts and occasionally some toasted coconut. (If you’re still with me, a drizzle of melted peanut butter or almond butter is quite nice, too!)

Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes are vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free (you get the point!) and taste amazing. Leftovers are great reheated and can be used for satisfying breakfast bowls.

Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Yield: approximately 8 servings, likely more when served as part of a large meal
Personal preference as to the level of sweetness and thickness of this seasonal favorite varies widely. As such, feel free to use a little more or less of the milk and maple syrup as desired. Coconut milk provides richness and complementary flavor without a pronounced coconut flavor. It also makes this recipe dairy-free and vegan. That said, if there’s a coconut allergy, cream or half and half could be used instead.
Ingredients
  • 3-1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped*
  • 3/4 cup canned coconut milk, plus more to taste (preferably full fat, not light)**
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2-3 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated or minced1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

 Optional toppings:I love a sprinkle of chopped candied pecans although chopped walnuts or macadamia nuts and/or toasted shredded coconut could be used as well. You could also top with an added drizzle of maple syrup, and those who like sweet and spicy might enjoy a drizzle of sriracha. For those who adore a marshmallow topping, be my guest!

Instructions

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the sweet potatoes and boil for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender when pierced with a fork. Drain the potatoes well, and then transfer them back to the pot.

Start by adding 1/2 cup of the coconut milk, salt and pepper. (I use about 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/4+ teaspoon of pepper.) Mash the potatoes until they’re mostly smooth, adding more coconut milk as needed until they reach your preferred consistency. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup, the ginger and cayenne. Taste and add additional maple syrup and/or adjust the seasonings to taste.

Potatoes will keep, refrigerated, for up to four days. You can loosen with additional coconut milk, if necessary, when prepared in advance.

Notes

*This is about 5-7 sweet potatoes, although the size of this root vegetable really varies. If you can use the scale at the store when buying, that helps. (A kitchen scale would also be a great holiday gift – I like Escali’s Primo Digital Kitchen Scale, which costs about $25. I promise you’ll learn to love it!) That said, if you’re not spot on for the stated weight, not to worry, as you can tweak the amount of the other ingredients as needed.

**Full fat coconut milk provides better flavor and allows for the absence of butter in this recipe. Make sure you purchase regular canned coconut milk, not coconut cream or anything that is sweetened. If you notice that the cream and the water have separated when you open the can (this can happen if the milk is cold or has been sitting on the shelf for a while), simply stir or blend to create a smooth, homogeneous mixture.

Options to peeling and boiling the potatoes: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet, and puncture each potato a few times with a fork or the tip of a sharp knife to allow steam to escape. Bake for approximately one hour. Depending on the size of the potato, this could take more or less time – bake until very tender (think soft butter) when pierced with a fork or knife. For a speedier option, the sweet potatoes may be cooked in the microwave until tender. When done, remove the potatoes from the oven or microwave and, for easier handling, allow them to cool for a few minutes before scooping the flesh from the skins and into a mixing bowl.

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

The Lancaster County Council of Churches welcomes clothing donations and offers a variety of volunteer opportunities. For more information visit www.lcchurches.org/volunteer.

Additionally, the Council is one of many organizations that benefits from the incredible generosity our community extends through the Extraordinary Give, which is taking place once again on Friday, November 16, 2018. (Visit www.extragive.org for details.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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