So much of our holiday consumption seems saturated with meat. Our relatives and loved ones often talk of the effort they put into their turkey, or the pot roast they’re cooking up just in time for their children to fly home. On the other hand, animal-friendly food prep seems to get so little love during this time of warmth.
A dish that has always been a hit with my family, and one I’ve tried to pick up from my own parents over the years, are the Fletcher family sweet potatoes. They make up a hearty portion of all our Yuletide meals, and always seem the first to go. Even if meat is on the holiday spread, there’s rarely anyone who turns down the Fletcher family yams.
One of the special upsides of preparing sweet potatoes is that they’re completely animal friendly. Not only are no animals involved in any of the preparation, but it’s also completely egg and dairy free. No small feat, you can imagine, in a time of year known for eggnog and beef dishes. The other major upside to sweet potato preparations is that the ingredients list is pretty simple too. While they may take some time in your oven, cooking delicious sweet potatoes is never too complicated to do right.
However, it’s important to find marshmallows that are gelatin-free. Many of the marshmallow brands are made with animal byproducts, and it’s crucial you pre-purchase marshmallows that are made without harm to our animal cousins. Both Sweet and Sara and Chicago Vegan Foods make certified cruelty-free marshmallows.
The dish my family always makes is a casserole- but don’t let the name turn you off! Sweet potato casserole is delicious even if people put ‘casserole’ right next to ‘fruit cake’ on the holiday delicacy chart. The basic ingredients in any sweet potato casserole are as follows (I’ll reference, for the most part, the recipe guidelines from All Recipes):
- 5 sweet potatoes, sliced (typically no less than four large tubers to begin with)
- ¼ cup margarine
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- Pinch of ground cinnamon
- Approx. 10-12 ounces of marshmallows (make sure they’re milk & gelatin free!)
Some recipes call for either additional vanilla flavoring, or even orange juice. The choice is all yours, and I recommend exploring recipe lists online for what best suit your tastes.
Once you’ve squared away your ingredients list, the cooking process is simple and pretty universal:
- Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees
- Place the pre-sliced sweet potatoes in a saucepan with enough water added to boil. Bring to a boil and cook until tenderized for about 15 minutes.
- When done, remove the saucepan from the heat and drain the water. If you’ve care to, mash the sweet potatoes as desired.
- Place the sweet potatoes in a bowl, and add the margarine, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Use an electric mixer to blend the potatoes with the other ingredients.
- Spread the potatoes evenly across a 9×13 baking dish, and add place the marshmallows on top. Bake the sweet potatoes in your preheated oven for about 30 minutes (or until the marshmallows have browned).
- Remove and let cool, then enjoy.
Remember, even if you or your relatives choose to eat meat during the holidays, there are always delicious meal alternatives. So get creative this season!