Sweet Potato Casserole (AIP, Paleo)

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Sweet Potato Casserole (Paleo / AIP)

This year’s Thanksgiving is going to be a big one for me: not only am I hosting for a family for their first Thanksgiving ever, I am making MY first ever total AIP / Paleo meal. From side dishes to desserts. To top it off, because my husband is Mr. Pickypants when it comes to holiday meals and wants some dishes to be standard American fare, I’ll be making not one but TWO stuffings and not one but TWO versions of this casserole! Sad but true, I’m afraid. Incidentally, I’ll be very curious to see which he enjoys more: my homemade Paleo stuffing, or his Stovetop signature! (I’ll keep ya posted!) He has already told me that, as delicious as this casserole is, he still wants one topped with the typical marshmallows and missing the almonds. That’s pretty easy peasy, so I don’t have any trouble accommodating him there (though I can’t agree it will taste better)! And I believe in picking my battles, so there’s that, too.


But let’s get back to this:

Sweet potato casserole: it brings back fond memories (along with memories of more standard Thanksgiving fare like stuffing and mashed potatoes). My age-old love for all things sugary (and yes it’s been my achilles heel as well) has meant that Thanksgivings past, I would automatically scan the table, hoping to see the casserole there. And I can even still taste the sweetness of it all. The melty-ness of the marshmallows. Today, since I avoid eating foods with white sugar, and since my sugar-beast has diminished in strength, the thought of so much sweet doesn’t sound nearly as appealing. Yet I knew I wanted to include the sweet potato casserole in our meal this year.

Thank goodness I was already familiar with making homemade marshmallows! They don’t contain any corn syrup, and they taste so so delicious. But it’s important to note that they do not behave like ordinary marshmallows when in contact with heat. They basically melt faster and easier. We discovered this after putting our casserole under the broiler for two minutes. Not only was that probably a tad too long, when we scooped it out onto the plate, it was very melty. Too melty. The solution? What we found was that once we put it in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes, it held together beautifully. So this dish is going to be best served after it’s been cooled in the fridge and then been allowed to rise to room temperature (another 15 minutes or so) before serving. If you do it this way, your marshmallows will have the same consistency as store-bought and the dish will please everyone (unless you have a Mr. Pickypants in the family too)!

While the broiler browned these up nicely, if you have or want one of these handy little blow torches, you would get a more even color (notice how the edge did not color at all). And, you probably will be sparred the whole cooling-in-fridge-bringing-to-room-temp procedure! (I cannot guarantee this though since I did not try it.)

What I love about this is that you will not be missing the typical dish, at all. The fresh cranberries infuse it with pops of tartness, making this casserole sweet without being too cloying. And the marshmallows, when handled the way described above, will have that spongy quality that contrasts so nicely with the sweet potato base. You can certainly omit the almonds and the nutmeg for AIP. I find I can now tolerate nuts on occasion so I left them in, roasting them which is optional gives them an extra bit of crackle and crunch. Mmmm, so good!

But as good as this is, truly the best part of Thanksgiving is stopping to give, and spread, some thankfulness. I know I feel so blessed, and I often do stop and thank God for all He’s given me. Thanksgiving is also unique in that, for the most part, it is the one holiday where we invite people into our homes who might not have a family or place to go. We see people we may not have seen all year, and meet some for the very first time. It’s also a season of traditions. This year, I’d like to light some candles around the table, before saying the blessing. Just to take a moment in gratitude, for being together and being able to share the time we have with one another. My friend Christine Sullivan has a beautiful tradition: each year, her family invites a person over who may not have family or loved ones nearby to spend the day with. Check out her latest blog post, and get inspired to reach out to someone this Thanksgiving, showing them love in one of the most basic, valuable ways.

From my family to yours, have a beautiful, blessed, and delicious Thanksgiving! Enjoy friends!!

Sweet Potato Casserole (Paleo, AIP)

Ingredients

Fluff Topping:

  • 1 cup water, divided
  • 1 cup honey
  • 3 TBSP Vital Proteins gelatin
  • pinch sea salt

Casserole:

  • 2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 in pieces
  • 2 TBSP maple syrup
  • 3 TBSP coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • dash ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg (omit for AIP)
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/3 cup toasted almonds (omit for AIP)

Instructions

  1. Make marshmallow topping: Grease a 9 x 13 pan and cover with unbleached parchment paper.
  2. Beat 1/2 cup water with the 3 TBSP gelatin in a large mixing bowl for 1-2 mins. Set aside.
  3. In pot on stovetop put water, honey and pinch sea salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil for roughly 9-10 mins (and keep an eye on it, it can boil over).
  4. Very slowly, pour the honey water mixture over gelatin, beating the whole time on low / medium. Continue to beat until it becomes like marshmallow cream, about 10 minutes.
  5. Spread mixture into prepared pan. Using a little oil on your fingers, smooth down.
  6. Put in fridge to firm up while you make the sweet potatoes
  7. Bring maple syrup, coconut oil, sea salt and spices to boil and cook 1-2 mins.
  8. Put sweet potatoes in 8 x 8 inch pan and pour mixture on top. Add cranberries and mix gently in.
  9. Bake, uncovered, 30-35 minutes. While baking, toast almonds.
  10. Using a skillet on the stovetop, toast almonds, stirring constantly until slightly browned and fragrant.

  11. When potatoes are done, mash lightly with a fork. Don't worry that you are mooshing the cranberries along with the potatoes - that's what will give the dish those pops of tart!!

  12. Add almonds and mix to combine.

  13. Allow to cool at room temp for 10 mins. Preheat oven to Broil.

  14. Remove marshmallows from fridge. Using a knife, cut them in half. Take one half and, using your hands, lay atop sweet potatoes. You will need to pull them apart into various "chunks" to fit the pan. The remaining marshmallows can be cut into desired shape and saved for future use. (Hot cocoa anyone?)

  15. Place under broiler for no more than ~1 min.

  16. Allow to cool for 5 mins, then place in fridge for 15. *

  17. Remove from fridge. Serve at room temperature.

Recipe Notes

*As mentioned above, homemade marshmallows do not behave the same as store-bought. When in contact with heat, they melt much more quickly. It's important to let them cool in the fridge to firm up before serving.

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