Grand Marnier Sweet Potatoes? Mind if I do

Today around the country, millions of sweet potatoes are being prepared for Thanksgiving dinner. Let’s hope as many as possible come straight from the farmers’ market…

Ok, first things first, sweet potatoes are NOT fattening. Now when you add the butter, the sugar… yup these ingredients are a game-changer but let’s be honest. Everything in moderation is fine. And just go for a nice long stroll after your meal. Makes a world of difference.

Ok, so yes, the sweet potato itself is not fattening. A medium size potato (5 ounces) baked in its skin averages 100 calories. Not bad at all. And as for diabetes? Well sweet potatoes have a lower glycemic index than white potatoes, so the effect on blood sugars isn’t as drastic. And the bonus? Sweet potatoes are packed with carotenoids, the most famous being Vitamin A, which is super for you vision health, and for you body’s defenses to fight anything from a cold or flu to cancer.

Now I like sweet potato casserole, minus the marshmallows and tons of sugar. After all, they’re naturally sweet as is. So this is what I chose to do this year and I want to share this for fun! Peel and chop up about 4-5 medium sweet potatoes, place in an oven-proof dish, and add a splash of fresh orange juice. Slice an orange into thin slithers and place these on top of the potatoes to bake covered for about 30-45 min. While this bakes, melt about 2T butter and 2T packed brown sugar, and when the sugar looks dissolved (a nice rich caramel color), add about 1T (or maybe a tad more) of Grand Marnier liqueur. When the potatoes are soft, pour the butter, sugar, and liqueur mixture over the potatoes and bake for another 10 minutes uncovered. The oranges come out beautiful.

So the final stages… Remove the sliced oranges and in the same oven-proof dish, mash up the potatoes and add a little salt, paprika and cinnamon. Please go ahead and taste this – the orange juice and slices lend a lovely citrus twist that freshens up the flavor. Smooth out the top. Arrange half of the sliced oranges on top of the potato mix. In a non-stick skillet, roast about 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (nice in healthy, packed with fiber!) and 2/3 cup chopped pecans. Add 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, and 2T butter and mix enough for ingredients to blend. Pour this over the sweet potatoes and half the orange slices. Smooth out, and then arrange the remaining half of the orange slices (the prettiest ones you have). Bake for about 30 minutes.

Ok I know, you’ve spotted sugar and butter in this BUT compared to many sweet potato casseroles I was browsing, this is less loaded in both. And it’s a pretty dish to look at no? So please, eat, drink, and be merry this Thanksgiving! Just practice moderation, and pick up the healthy pace the day after. And if you’re on of those brave folks venturing out for black Friday, you may burn up those calories running into the store…

Stay hungry my friends!

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