The older I get the more I realize that every part of the country has its own traditional holiday food: squash, carrots, green beans, sweet potatoes, ham, turkey, and any combination of those or more. One thing that I always had on a holiday table growing up was sweet potato casserole. Ours always had a combination of pecans and miniature marshmallows; at the time my sister and I always went for the marshmallows, although these days I can’t get enough pecans in my life.
Did you know that Arkansas is among the top ten states in sweet potato production, which has increased substantially over the last 15 years? So, you will have no trouble finding these perfect potatoes. Check out Arkansas’s largest sweet potato growers, 5th generation farmers Matthews Ridgeway Farm. And Arkansas pecans, oh my! Each year, an estimated 2.6 million pecans are harvested from orchards around Arkansas and now is the time to take advantage of that!
Something that can make the holidays hard for everyone is entertaining when friends or family have food allergies or intolerances. The most common one that I run into is with gluten, and while this used to be an issue that scared me quite a bit I’ve since found that making gluten free food is not as intimidating as it sounds.
One tip that helped me the most was learning about what people with food allergies can enjoy.
Often I have found that there are great substitutions that can be made with little to no hassle. More than anything, letting your loved one with food allergies know that you want to take care of them is the most important part. They will likely always be thankful to know that they will have options when it comes to holiday feasting.
There are several things to love about this casserole: the creamy sweet potatoes practically melt in your mouth, the topping is decadent yet crunchy, the pecans create an incredible flavor, and the whole thing can be made using ingredients grown right here in our own wonderful state. To cut down on stress I like to bake my sweet potatoes early – even up to a day ahead – and then throw it all together to bake off on the big day.
No matter the holiday this is always a winning dish. I have included a few alternative ingredients to make this dish even more allergen-friendly without compromising flavor or texture. Enjoy!
ARKANSAS SWEET POTATOES WITH STREUSEL TOPPING
- 3-4 large sweet potatoes, washed
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream*
- 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
- 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats**
- 1/2 cup brown sugar***
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1/3 cup coconut oil OR butter, melted
- Wrap each sweet potato in foil and place on a baking sheet in a cold oven.
- Turn the oven on to 375 and bake for 60-90 minutes until the sweet potatoes are very soft and tender.
- Allow to cool enough to handle, then remove the skins.
- Place the sweet potatoes in a bowl and mash very well.
- Add the heavy whipping cream and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, then whisk or mash until very smooth.
- Pour into a baking dish.
- In another bowl combine the remaining ingredients and mix well to combine.
- Sprinkle evenly over the sweet potatoes.
- Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes until the topping is golden and crisp.
- Allow to cool 5-10 minutes before serving.
*Substitute 3/4 cup of full-fat coconut milk.
**Substitute 1 cup certified gluten-free rolled oats.
***Substitute 1/2 cup raw sugar.