The Vegan Sweet Potato Recipe This Nutritionist Loves
Registered dietitian and plant-based diet specialist Cynthia Sass shares her rich, creamy vegan mashed sweet potato recipe. Here's why this healthy, dairy free side dish will satisfy everyone in the family.
A healthier swap to mashed sweet potatoes
It’s that time of year to celebrate root vegetables, and sweet potatoes are the main attraction. There are several varieties of this tuber, but two of the most popular, especially for mashing, are garnet and jewel.
For this recipe, I chose garnet due to its bright orange, rich flesh, and higher moisture content. Garnets also nicely retain their vibrant hue after baking.
Traditional recipes for mashed sweet potatoes can be quite heavy, prepared with brown sugar, butter, and half-and-half. But many people are looking for healthy, plant-based ways to enjoy this fall favorite.
Fortunately, with my vegan sweet potatoes recipe, just a few simple ingredient tweaks can transform this dish into one that’s dairy free and nutritious, without sacrificing one iota of flavor and satisfaction. (Here’s how to make vegan mashed potatoes.)
Sweet potatoes: A nutrient powerhouse
The superstar ingredient for this dish—sweet potatoes—are nutrient powerhouses.
One cup of baked sweet potato contains over 38,400 international units (IU) of vitamin A, which supports immune function, as well as healthy skin and vision. That’s 769% daily value (%DV). This same-sized portion also supplies about 7 grams of dietary fiber (26% DV), 39 mg of vitamin C (65% DV), and it also includes energy-supporting B vitamins and minerals. Plus, a cup of sweet potatoes boasts 950 mg of potassium (27% DV). The latter mineral helps regulate heart rhythm, blood pressure, nerve, and muscle function.
Sweet potatoes are also loaded with anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants known to protect cells from aging and disease, according to a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food.
How to make vegan mashed sweet potatoes
Swap dairy for oat milk
In place of dairy, I opted for oat milk, which is made from antioxidant-rich whole grain oats. Among the plant-based dairy alternatives, oat milk’s thickness makes it the perfect choice for adding texture to your mash, and it doesn’t have a strong flavor, so it blends perfectly. (Find out how to tell if oat milk is gluten-free.)
Swap butter for cashew butter
The cashew butter replaces dairy butter. It adds richness, a slightly nutty flavor, and acts as a binder, while providing heart-healthy fat, about 2 grams of plant protein (6% DV) per tablespoon, and minerals. These include immune-supporting zinc, and magnesium, which have been shown to help support healthy sleep in women, according to a 2018 study in Nutrients.
Add maple syrup
Maple syrup adds delectable fall flavor, and it’s a nutrient-rich sweetener. A study published in Pharmaceutical Biology has shown that maple syrup contains two dozen different types of antioxidants. Each tablespoon also provides 0.6 mg of manganese (33% DV), a mineral that supports bone health, collagen production, and wound healing. (Don’t miss what else maple syrup nutrition has to offer.)
The end result is a vibrant side dish that’s flavorful, mouth-wateringly satisfying, and nourishing for vegans and non-vegans alike. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do throughout the fall and winter seasons.
Vegan Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Courtesy Cynthia Sass, MPH, MA, RD, CSSD
2 large sweet potatoes
1/4 cup unsweetened oat milk
2 tablespoons unsweetened cashew butter
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Whole pecans for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Pierce the sweet potatoes several times with a fork or pairing knife. Bake on a foil-lined sheet for one hour or until potatoes are tender throughout.
Slice each potato in half, lengthwise. Hold each with a potholder or towel, scoop out the flesh into a medium bowl, and discard the skins. Mash, and set aside.
In a saucepan combine the oat milk, cashew butter, and maple syrup. Warm over low to medium heat, stirring continuously, for about three to four minutes. Remove from the heat, and add the mixture to the mashed sweet potatoes, along with the salt and pepper. Stir to create a uniform consistency. Transfer to serving dish and garnish with pecans if desired.
Note: If you’re allergic or sensitive to nuts, swap the cashew butter for sunflower seed butter and trade the pecans for sprouted pumpkin seeds.
- USDA FoodData Central: "Sweet potato, cooked, baked in skin, flesh, without salt"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Cashew butter"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Syrups, maple"
- Journal of Medicinal Food: "Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas [L.] Lam) - A Valuable Medicinal Food: A Review"
- Pharmaceutical Biology: "High-Performance Liquid Chromatography Characterization and Identification of Antioxidant Polyphenols in Maple Syrup"