21 Days of Healthy Holiday Habits–Healthier Seasonal Recipes. Bonus Rustic Vegan Scalloped Sweet Potatoes Cashew & Herb Sauce!

Happy Sunday!  We are just a few days away from Thanksgiving, so I have been in the kitchen this morning testing out a few new recipes for the holiday.  My tip today is to not be afraid to try some healthier versions of your favorite recipes.  While I do feel it is fine to indulge a bit, why not try out at least a few new dishes to see if they measure up?  You may even find they are just as good as the original!

If you are sharing a meal with friends or family who may not be as health conscious as you, I might not suggest replacing every dish and scaring everyone off.  However, you may still be able to get away with a few swaps.  While I personally do not feel like mashed cauliflower has quite the same texture as mashed potatoes, I can vouch for doing half of each makes for an excellent lightened up recipe that most people would not even notice the cauliflower.  Using homemade mushroom soup in the green bean casserole can slash the sodium level in at least half.  Making your own cranberry sauce instead of using canned is quite simple, and you can use natural sweeteners instead of processed sugar (stay tuned for a recipe later this week for a tangy version I made with dates and fresh grapefruit).

On the opposite side of the spectrum, you can also add extra vegetables to recipes to make them a bit healthier.  Stick with your basic recipe, but toss in some broccoli or cauliflower.  I add leafy greens to almost everything, so if all else fails just add a little bit of chopped spinach to any dish to make sure you get some greens in when preparing.  That way you still get to enjoy your treat, but also still get some extra produce power!

If you do a basic search on the internet, you will find numerous recipes for lighter holiday fare.  You can also just take a look at your current favorites and make some swaps.  Using applesauce in baked goods instead of oil can cut some unnecessary fat.  I have never had a problem cutting sugar measurements in half in prior holiday baking endeavors.  Bumping up your herbs and spices can also enhance the flavor of dishes where you may have cut a little bit of sodium or fat.  You do not have to try to make everything perfectly healthy, but just a few tweaks here and there can really add up over the course of a day!

I love potatoes of all sorts, so I was given sweet potatoes to make for my family’s Thanksgiving meal.  I can’t remember ever having a plant-based version of scalloped potatoes, but I figured I was up to the task of trying my hand at coming up with a delicious recipe.  I am quite happy this recipe came out great on the first try!  Since my sister cannot eat garlic or onions without discomfort, my family has become quite proficient in adapting recipes so that she can partake.  This one is filled with herbs to make up for any flavor deficit from not including any alliums.  I will definitely double the recipe for our holiday table!


My wonderful beau was nice enough to take a trip to the farmers market for me yesterday since I was  having fun running a road race.  He got me two lovely bulbs of fennel for some other recipes that both came with cascading fronds.  Since you can actually use the fronds like other herbs, I added some of the softer portions to this recipe.  Please do not feel the need to go out and get fennel for this recipe, just use what you have on hand.  I am also not very fancy in my presentation, so mixing everything together was a whole lot easier than trying to artfully arrange the potato slices!


Rustic Vegan Scalloped Sweet Potatoes with Cashew & Herb Sauce

Makes about 8 servings

  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, thinly sliced (as usual, the food processor is a huge help!)
  • 1/2 cup cashews, soaked overnight & drained
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh water
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder or cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (2-3 full sprigs)*
  • 10-12 leaves fresh sage*
  • 1 handful fennel fronds (optional)*
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup pecan pieces

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly grease a 9-inch x 9-inch (about 2 quart) casserole dish.

Place your sliced potatoes in a mixing bowl, then prepare the herb cashew sauce.  In a blender add your soaked cashews through the black pepper.  Blend on high speed until combined.  Pour into the bowl with the sweet potatoes and mix together.

Add your potato mixture to your prepared pan.  Cover and place in the oven to bake for 45 minutes.  Remove the cover.  Sprinkle your pecan pieces over the top then return to the oven.  Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.

* You can substitute dried herbs for the fresh, just use about a third as dried are much more potent!

Definitely a little messy, but absolutely delicious!

Author: plantstoplanks

Personal trainer, nutrition and wellness consultant, plant-based cook, avid runner and book-lover. :)

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