Actually, Justine and her sister save the day for me many times. There is so much about being a mom someday (not yet!) that I have questions about and they have the answers. Friends, if you need info on raising healthy little one through pregnancy and afterwards, they are a wealth of good information. Check them out at there website by clicking on any of the pictures or HERE.
As a certified health coach, I generally steer my clients and blog readers toward nutrient-dense and low-calorie foods (read: tons of veggies and fruit). They really should be the bulk of your diet in order to maintain your weight and to achieve optimum health. But I do sometimes eat foods that don't exactly fit that bill. And that's okay.
One of the rules I try to live by is "eat all the junk food you want, as long as you cook it yourself" (from Michael Pollan's Food Rules). The fact is that indulgent, rich and/or sweet foods have gotten so inexpensive and easy to buy that we don't consume them just for special occasions anymore; now we see these foods as part of our everyday diets.
Additionally, if we make our own "junk food," we control the quality and quantity of our ingredients. I cut the sugar in pretty much every recipe I make. And we can and should use the best ingredients we can afford, such as organic vegetables and grass-fed dairy; pastured eggs; real maple syrup (not that maple-flavored sugar water); and whole grains.
This recipe - a favorite for many years at my family's holiday dinner table - is rich and sweet. It's high in calories, too. However, it's also packed with vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, good fats, and protein. So, while it's not something I'd recommend eating every day, this dish is a real treat that is perfect for a special holiday dinner; it is a wonderful accompaniment to the more savory Thanksgiving fare. The fact that it also packs a nutritional punch is just a really great bonus.
• 6 large sweet potatoes
• 1/2c half and half (whole milk works fine, too)
• 1 egg
• 3T real maple syrup
• 2T orange juice
• 1 1/2tsp salt
• 1t vanilla
• 2/3c packed brown sugar
• 2T real maple syrup
• 1 1/4c pecan pieces
• 1/2 t cinnamon
• 7T unsalted butter, softened and cut in pieces
• 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash sweet potatoes and poke each one a few times with the tines of a fork. Place them on a rimmed baking sheet covered in foil or parchment (as they bake, they will ooze some sweet syrup - you want to catch it before it gets in your oven!). Bake for about an hour, until they are tender to the touch. Remove from the oven and let cool. (Make-ahead note: You can bake the potatoes a day or two beforehand; just keep them in their skins and refrigerate.)
Halve the potatoes lengthwise and peel off the skins; you should be able to do this with your hands, or you can scoop the flesh with a spoon, as you would an avocado. Place the flesh into a large mixing bowl. Add half and half, egg, maple syrup, orange juice, salt and vanilla. Beat until potatoes are mashed and mixture is light and fluffy.
Spoon into buttered two-quart casserole dish and spread into an even layer.
In a separate bowl, combine sugar, syrup, pecans, cinnamon, butter, and flour. Mix with hands until all ingredients are fully incorporated and the mixture is crumbly.
(Make-ahead note: You can cover the mashed potatoes and the crumbly topping separately and refrigerate for a day or two; assemble when ready to bake.)
"Spread topping over the top of the mashed sweet potatoes, covering all the potatoes. Bake the dish, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes. The topping should be hot and bubbling.
Let sit for about 10 minutes; this allows the topping to come together and get a bit crispy. It should crackle a little like a crème brûlée when you spoon into it.
Scoop and enjoy.