Sweet Potatoes: Goodbye Marshmallows, Hello Orange and Ginger!


When you mention sweet potatoes, it seems many people have an odd misconception that these wonderful roots are only eaten on Thanksgiving, and must be doused in maple syrup, and topped with marshmallows.

Don’t get me wrong…..I love maple, and have nothing against marshmallows. I just like my sweet potatoes to taste more like a vegetable, and less like a dessert. I think these beautiful orange treasures are so special, that they needn’t be covered up so much.

How many of the following five facts do you know?

Five Facts.

1. Sweet potatoes provide twice the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A & more than ⅓ of vitamin C.

2. Sweet Potatoes  should not be refrigerated unless cooked.

3. “Yam” refers to sweet potatoes that are grown in Louisiana. When the orange-fleshed, Puerto Rican variety of sweet potatoes was adopted by Louisiana producers and shippers, they called them “yams” to distinguish them from the white-fleshed sweet potatoes grown in other parts of the country.

4. The sweet potato is not a potato or even a distant cousin. Potatoes are tubers; sweet potatoes are roots.

5. Sweet potatoes are an important source of beta-carotene, vitamin B6, iron, potassium and fiber.
(*these facts and many more can be found at theLouisiana Sweet Potato Commission)

Tried and True.

This is one of my favorite recipes to give to people. Why? Because it always comes out looking beautiful, and tasting even better. I got it from a chef friend many years ago, and I’ve used it every Thanksgiving since.

Large navel orange shells are the perfect bowl for a single serving of sweet potatoes.


Sweet Potatoes Baked in Orange Shells

Note: This recipe is GLUTEN FREE!
5 navel oranges, halved widthwise
3 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled &  cut into large chunks
1 cup white sugar
6 Tbsp. butter (or coconut oil, if you want to go non-dairy)
Salt & pepper, to taste
2½ Tbsp peeled fresh gingerroot, minced (See Cook’s Note 1. )
Orange zest (white pith removed) from ½ of an orange

Juice oranges and reserve the juice and shells. An electric juicer is best for this, because a manual juicer tends to break the shells.

Measure out 3/4 cup orange juice; reserve remaining juice for another use. (Like a nice treat for yourself for cooking a great meal!)

Cook sweet potatoes in large pot of boiling water for 20-30 minutes, or until they are fork-tender. Drain. Return sweet potatoes to pot and mash.

Add orange juice, sugar, 5 Tbsp. butter (or coconut oil), salt, pepper and half of the ginger; Stir well. Make sure to taste the mixture, and make sure you like the seasonings. If you’re using coconut oil, you’ll probably want to increase the salt just a bit.

Spoon sweet potatoes into orange shells; sprinkle the tops evenly with remaining  ginger; dot w/ remaining Tbsp. of butter/ coconut oil. (See Cook’s Note 2 and 3.)

Bake the cups at 350° until heated through (the zest will be slightly golden), about 20 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining  orange zest evenly over the tops, and put back into the oven for about 5 minutes.

Cook’s Notes:

1.   Do you know how to peel gingerroot? Believe it or not, you (yes, you!) have the exact specialty utensil that works the best in your own kitchen drawer! It’s a plain ‘ol spoon. Yep, just scrape the spoon across the thin peel, and your ginger will be peeled quickly, and without any waste.

2.   The filled orange cups can be made ahead, covered and refrigerated overnight! This is such a help when planning out your Thanksgiving dinner’s schedule. Just remember to take them out and place on a counter for about an hour before they need to bake.

3.   The sweet potato filling will make more than your orange shells will hold, so you will end up with leftovers. I generally will put the extras into a freezer bag for my sister, so she can take it home with her Thanksgiving leftovers, since she loves them so much =0)

Dual Purpose Roots & Rhizomes.

Here’s one more use for those sweet potatoes & gingerroots: If you notice a tiny sprout on either, set it in some water and see what happens…

My new houseplants, Sweet P and Little Gin

So, I’ve got a question for you: do you like sweet potatoes? And, more importantly, how have you generally had them at Thanksgiving?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and I promise to answer =0)


12 thoughts on “Sweet Potatoes: Goodbye Marshmallows, Hello Orange and Ginger!

  1. To make it more paleo friendly, I would swap out the white sugar, for either unfiltered local honey, or local maple syrup. Otherwise, this sounds super delicious!


  2. Sounds delish…I have a suggestion on how to use the unused Orange juice! I use OJ instead of water when I make cranberry sauce. It seems to round out the flavors nicely and I always get lots of compliments on it…”better than Mom’s”! My chef husband even added it to his repertoire.


  3. Thanks to my favorite sockmonkey, I made this exact recipe a couple of years ago for a group of friends on Thanksgiving. I won the prize for most original AND pretty dish! Oh, and everyone said they tasted really good too! 🙂


  4. Just in case there are any doubters out there, DO try this! It’s our very favorite Thanksgiving side dish, as we’re fortunate to be guests at the Sockmonkey’s table each year.


    1. Funny you should ask – there is a photo, but my lighting was off! The pumpkin is quite light, so there’s not that much of a color distinction between the two layers. If I should get a good photo next week when I make it again, I will post is on this page =0)


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