This is my first holiday being dairy free, and I’m determined to eat some of the traditional Thanksgiving foods that I love. I set out to find a sweet potato casserole that would still taste rich and creamy without the butter. Honestly, I was pretty pessimistic. I even had a back up post ready if this casserole didn’t turn out. I’m a realist, people. Few things taste as good sans butter.
VEGAN SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE
-5-6 average sweet potatoes (roughly 2.5 pounds after peeling)
-1/3 cup coconut milk
-1/3 cup orange juice
-2 teaspoons vanilla
-1/4 cup sugar
-1/4 cup maple syrup
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
-1/4 teaspoon allspice
-1 cup chopped pecans
-1/4 cup coconut oil
-1/3 cup brown sugar
-1/2 cup flour
-2 tablespoons maple syrup
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel, chop, and boil sweet potatoes until cooked. Drain and return to the pot.
2. Add coconut milk to the potatoes and mash until smooth.
3. Add remaining ingredients and stir until well combined. Pour into casserole dish.
4. Mix topping ingredients together and sprinkle on top of potato mixture.
5. Bake for 40-50 minutes.
This week has been a cold one in the Ozarks. We are staying cozy inside and getting excited for everything that comes with Gemma’s first holiday season…I recently came face to face with a situation that reminded me how pain is so close to many peoples’ hearts this time of year. For some, holidays accentuate the pain of loss or chronic struggle. Seeing others’ joy and merriment can make a hurting person turn inward and feel even more isolated by their circumstances. I’ve had holidays like that in the past…A few very hard years where the pain was tangible, and I felt completely alone and helpless. There are still residual aches. I am healing, but it has forever altered my make up.
Not all collateral is damage though. Having been in a place of brokenness makes you more aware when others are suffering. You see a familiar look and know that a forced smile is covering up layers of worry and hurt. Tears and fresh scars sit just beneath the surface. You can sense that they are ready for the holidays to be over because a typical day is hard enough to get through. The expectation that things should be celebratory is adding insult to injury.
May I never get so busy being “merry and bright” that I forgot what the little twinkling lights of this season were intended to represent…hope. Hope for hurting, broken people. Hope for myself and my own healing. If you haven’t been in a place of sorrow before, inevitably at some point you will be. If you find yourself there now, I pray that peace and glimmers of hope will turn up unexpectedly…and perhaps a friend with hot coffee in one hand and a donut in the other.