Things are so rainy and chilly around here. It’s such a cliche but it’s surprising to me that it’s so cold and that being cold isn’t as fun as I anticipated. I read about the weather in Portland. I complained that winters in Arizona are too hot and I wished for more chilly days. But living it is always an entirely different matter. Sometimes it seems like my toes will never be warm again. So I’m spending a little more time at Target than I should but I’m developing a pretty awesome sock collection. Plus boots and plaid and comfy sweaters and car seat warmers and warm bulletproof cacao in the morning. <3 Roasting more things (like these sweet potatoes) to get that oven heat and learning to love the leafless trees and moss growing everywhere.
This recipe is a nod to a dish I’ve made for a couple of Thanksgivings now. Previous versions had lots of butter and cream so per usual, I looked to make some swaps and keep it paleo-friendly. FYI, I did try the filling without any added maple syrup and it actually tasted plenty sweet to me so add it or leave it out, whatever your preference. Roasting the apples actually pulls some of the water content out and intensifies the natural sugars so they make the perfect addition for natural sweetness. I’ve tried roasting bananas in previous years and felt the flavor was too overpowering. Apples have such a mild flavor in comparison and let the flavor of the sweet potatoes shine.
The streusel really doesn’t need the coconut sugar but I’ve added it in the spirit of the holiday and to keep the streusel more familiar-tasting. It creates a delicious caramelized topping that the nuts just don’t do on their own. Plus I’ve found that particularly in a celebratory situation, making small allowances can help keep you from making larger ones. These Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes would serve as dessert for me, just enough mild sweetness to be considered a treat, and keep me from helping myself to 5 servings of pie like I might’ve done in previous years.
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Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes
Yields: 4-8 servings (as a side dish)
2 large sweet potatoes or yams
1 medium apple, sliced (use a sweet one like honeycrisp, gala, or braeburn)
¼ c. full-fat coconut milk
2 tbsp. coconut oil, ghee, or butter
1-2 tbsp. maple syrup (optional)
2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
4 sage leaves, chopped
2 tsp. sea salt
For the Pecan Streusel:
½ c. raw pecans
2 tbsp. coconut sugar (optional)
2 tbsp. coconut oil
pinch of ground cloves
optional for garnish: more fresh sage
Preheat the oven to 400F. Wash the sweet potatoes and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Pierce with a fork over the tops of each and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and add the apples. Put the pan back in the oven and cook for another 30 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are cooked through (a butter knife should insert easily all the way through) and the apples are soft and juicy. Allow them to cool for 10-15 minutes, or until cool enough to handle.
(Note: the above step can be done the day before and the sweet potatoes and apples can be covered and kept in the fridge until you’re ready to finish the dish. Just make sure to keep the skins in tact!)
Lower the oven temperature to 300F. While the sweet potatoes are cooling, prepare the streusel by combining the pecans, coconut sugar, coconut oil, and cloves in a food processor. Pulse just until the nuts are broken up and the mixture is crumbly. Dump the streusel into a bowl and set it aside.
Once slightly cooled, split the sweet potatoes in half lengthwise and lay them flat on the same sheet pan. Scoop out the centers, being careful to leave the skins in tact like little boats. Place the sweet potato pulp, along with the roasted apples, into the food processor. Add the coconut milk, coconut oil, maple syrup (if using), cinnamon, chopped sage, and sea salt. Process until smooth. Scoop the mixture back into the sweet potato skins. Top liberally with the streusel. Optionally, coat some fresh sage leaves with coconut oil or avocado oil and place them amongst the sweet potatoes. Bake for 30 minutes or until the streusel topping is browned and the sage leaves are crispy.