Baked Sweet Potato Bar

I felt like making up a new kind of dinner… something that involved the kids spooning different ingredients onto their plates. For some reason, that method always seems to work well with them. The key is to choose all healthy ingredients and then they go to town feeling like it was their decision to put it onto their plates. When you think about it, that’s a much friendlier approach than to sit down and just have a meal set before you that you’re told to eat… or else. I suppose I prefer the former as well. That would explain my penchant for Indian buffets, Korean tofu houses, taqueria salsa bars and chocolate fondue fountains.

We had some sweet potatoes in the fridge and normally I mash, puree or cut them into fries. I’ve also baked them but then we usually eat them straight out of the foil without any toppings. Why do sweet potatoes get denied toppings unlike the classic baked potato that habitually gets smothered with sour cream, bacon, cheese and green onions? I decided a loaded baked sweet potato would not only be a fun deviation from the norm, but healthier too.

I heated the oven to 400 and then scrubbed the sweet potatoes well while keeping their skins on. Then I pierced them several times with a sharp knife and wrapped them individually in foil. Before sealing them up in the foil entirely, I drizzled some olive oil over them. I then baked them for about an hour, waiting until they were cooked through so well that they could be easily mashed with a fork. Open up the top of the foil, slice it lengthwise with a knife, squeeze the ends of the potato and gently push out some of the center. Put a slab of vegan butter right in there and then serve alongside the ingredient bar.

The bar included toasted coconut (just put shredded coconut onto a pan with medium dry heat until they’re toasted), walnut crumbles, golden raisins, dried currants, sunflower seeds, and pure maple syrup.

Everyone had a grand time loading up their sweet potatoes. The best thing about baked potatoes is eating through the first layer of toppings and then adding on another one, and another one, and another one. A delicious cycle.

Happy eating!