Maple Citrus Sweet Potato Bake

There’s a story behind this recipe, and I’m going to share it with you briefly.

I know there are LOTS of people who agree with Donkey in Shrek the Halls (yes, I love that movie!) when he says “Sweet potatoes ain’t NOTHIN’ without marshmallows!” 

But I am not one of them.  In fact, my very first exposure to sweet potatoes that I can remember was as a teenager at Thanksgiving with my boyfriend’s family, with those syrupy canned potatoes buried under globs of gooey, sickeningly-sweet marshmallows.  As a guest in someone’s home, I politely forced myself to swallow them down.

I didn’t even LOOK at a sweet potato again, let alone try to eat one, until I started making Keegan’s baby food some 15+ years later.  When I realized what a perfectly nutritious baby food they are, I wanted him to have them all the time. 

I also wanted to find a way we could all eat them together as a family, especially at Thanksgiving, without my husband and I feeling like we were eating baby food.  So I searched, experimented, and came up with this recipe that delivers all of the powerful nutrition of sweet potatoes in a simple side that satisfies babies, kids, and adults.

If this is your baby’s first Thanksgiving (or at least the first one where he/she gets to eat what everyone else is eating!), please check out this Sweet Potato Puree page, with instructions for making puree and serving suggestions, including what to serve it with, for every age from 4 months to 15 months plus.

Maple Citrus Sweet Potato Bake

This simple, low-fat, maple and orange juice-sweetened version of sweet potato casserole is sure to become your family’s favorite way to eat sweet potatoes, any time of year.  This can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before baking.  (Sweet potato puree can be made and frozen up to 2 months in advance – just thaw in the fridge the night before making this dish.)

YIELD|  Approximately 4-6 adult side dish servings
PREP|  12-17 minutes
BAKE|  10-15 minutes

Ingredients
3 cups sweet potato puree (approximately 3-4 medium sweet potatoes)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. orange juice
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. pure maple syrup
1/2 c. chopped pecans (optional)
1/4 c. chopped dried cranberries (optional)

Directions
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees (unless making ahead for baking later).

2.  Scrub sweet potatoes and prick several times with fork.  Place on paper towel-lined plate in a pinwheel configuration.  Microwave 7-12 minutes, rotating ends in center of pinwheel to outside of plate about halfway through cook time.  Potatoes are done when easily pierced with a fork near the center.  Cut potatoes in half through the middle and allow to cool 5-10 minutes.

3.  Using a spoon, scoop out flesh into a medium mixing bowl and then mash with fork or potato masher.  Add spices, orange juice, vanilla, and maple syrup and mix well.  Spoon into small casserole dish or baking pan (8 x 8″ glass cake pan works well).  If making ahead for baking later, refrigerate at this point, covered with plastic wrap.

4.  Prior to baking, sprinkle top with pecans as desired.  Bake 10-15 minutes or until warmed through. 
(If you prepared ahead of time and refrigerated, add about 15-20 minutes to bake time.)  

5. Top with cranberries after baking.

4-5 MONTHS Set aside mashed sweet potatoes.  Puree, press through strainer to remove any lumps or strings, and mix with breast milk, formula, or water to reach a very thin consistency.
6-9 MONTHS  Set aside mashed sweet potatoes.  Puree or thoroughly mash and add water as necessary for desired consistency to avoid choking hazard.
10-11 MONTHS  Serve this recipe as is EXCEPT: omit pecans. 
12 MONTHS to 3 YEARS  Serve this recipe as is EXCEPT: be sure your child does not have a nut allergy before preparing with pecans.  Nuts can be a choking hazard, so be sure they are finely chopped.

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Need more simple ideas for healthier Thanksgiving sides? Get my Top 10 Tips HERE!

2 thoughts on “Maple Citrus Sweet Potato Bake”

  1. Pingback: 10 Simple Tips for a Healthier Thanksgiving | The Family Table Cookbook

  2. Pingback: 10 Simple Tips for a Healthier Thanksgiving - Leah Borski Wellness

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