Sweet Potato Fruit and Nut Casserole [Vegan]

This delicious fall casserole-dessert (whatever you call it - casserole with an identity crisis? Vegetable, fruit, sweet or side dish?) is another meal that I baked up right before I left for my trip last week. Jon is munchin' down on this guy as we speak and I am stuck in a cold underground lab grumbling about not being able to have scratch-n-sniff computer pictures. I can't eat the food from a couple hundred miles away, but is it too much to ask to just be able to smell it?! Come on, all this technology for nothing. Well, I suppose if you're reading this and you're not Jon then we're in the same boat ... a leaking canoe, I think. Getting back to the recipe at hand, this is a great everyday or holiday side dish or dessert base. I always serve it at Thanksgiving, Solstice, and Christmas, but it isn't restricted merely to holidays.

3 large sweet potatoes
2 c. pulp unsweetened orange juice
1/2 stick earth balance vegan butter
1 10 oz. can unsweetened crushed pineapple with juice
4 organic carrots, grated
1/4 c. shredded coconut (optional)
1/4 c. sunflower seeds
1/2 c. raisins (or cranberries or currants)
2 T. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
1/4 c. ground flax seed
1/2 c. raw unsalted walnuts or mixed nuts (optional)
dash sea salt
1/4 c. organic or natural brown sugar (optional)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and coat a large baking dish with nonstick spray. You can use canned sweet potatoes if you wish, but be careful to buy just the sweet potatoes (yams) and not the presweetened sugary yams. We microwaved our potatoes in a big glass-lid covered Corningware container until they were fork tender. I then added the earth balance vegan butter to the potatoes and heated it all in the microwave for another minute or so to soften the butter.

If you have a Corningware container large enough, this could be a one dish meal. Ours' is tiny; I had to transfer everything to a large mixing bowl and then to a sprayed Pyrex baking dish for cooking. However, if you have a huge Corningware, feel free to mix and bake it all in that one dish.

Either in your mixing bowl or in your Corningware, add the pineapple with juice, orange juice, sea salt, and brown sugar (if desired- you can also use agave for a lower g.i. or just leave it all out entirely). I used the Saladmaster to quickly grate up the carrots into a fine grate and added them to the potatoes. You can grate them by hand or use a food processor, it doesn't matter. Mix everything together and mash the potatoes with skin as you go, folding the pineapple and carrots into the mix with each turn of the spoon. Keep the skin - it adds the vitamins and fiber from the potatoes and doesn't obscure the texture or taste of the dish. Skin haters will barely know it's mashed up in there :)

Grind the flax seed with a blender (the Vita-Mix) or a small coffee grinder. Add the flax, spices, seeds, and raisins or other dried fruit (apricot cut into tiny pieces would go well) to the mix and stir. If you want to add the coconut and walnuts, then add them now and mix everything together.

Transfer everything to your baking dish (if not already in your large Corningware) and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until heated through. This is a classic recipe my mom used to make when I was a kid, except I've added a lot of extras and left off the marshmallows and sugar-nut topping she used to make. If you have kids, the marshmallows are always a favorite, but you should be wary of extra simple sugars and non-gf-marshmallows. Truthfully, I don't eat them so I don't know if they are gluten free (though that should be easy to determine). Sweet potatoes in and of themselves are considered low g.i. (I consider them medium for my body's metabolism) and they are one of the fall superfoods along with cranberries, pumpkin, and turkey (all low carb). I don't have a need to add the marshmallow or nut topping since I love this casserole as is. However, if you're curious about the nut topping, it is not my own recipe but an old classic and is as follows:

Sweet Nut Topping:
1 c. walnuts and/or crushed pecans
1/2 stick earth balance vegan butter
2 T. organic or natural brown sugar
1 t. cinnamon

Melt the vegan butter in a small microwave safe bowl. Next, mix all topping ingredients together in a small bowl. Spoon the topping over the potatoes in the last 15-20 minutes of baking and bake until the topping is hot and a little crispy. Serve hot.

Cindalou's Kitchen Blues: Healthy Celiac / Coeliac Gluten and Dairy Free Recipes


  1. Yum, almost like a tzimmes. This would go great with a beefy cholent. I have a quick (dumb) question: Are we supposed to add 2 cups of orange pulp or 2 cups of orange juice (with pulp)? I can't believe that there is OJ out there that has added sugar! Hope to see more yummy recipes soon!

  2. Once more question: Are you using raw or roasted, salted or unsalted sunflower seeds in this (and your other) recipes? Thanks, Cindy and Jon!

  3. Hey! Sorry to take so long to get back to you- I use orange juice with pulp (not concentrate with added water). I don't buy special "orange pulp" or anything.

    I use raw unsalted nuts and seeds. I don't like salted and (generally) roasted commercial nuts since they are usually roasted in cottonseed oil which is toxic- eww, huh? :)

  4. Hi Cindy,

    Thanks for the info regarding the nuts/seeds. I will definitely be avoiding cottonseed oil - ewww is right!! I did, however, find Eden Organic dry roasted pumpkin seeds from drugstore.com (it's listed as a non-gluten item on Eden's site) and plan on trying those.

    Your new banana cranberry muffins look awesome!


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