VCU Massey Cancer Center


Recipe corner: sweet potato & green bean casseroles

Do rich casseroles have a place on your Thanksgiving dinner table? If so, consider adding a few more healthful side dishes to your menu mix to give guests some options. Instead of the traditional high calorie or high fat sweet potato and green bean casseroles, try these two updated recipes. Their fresh fruits and vegetables boost flavor, fiber and nutrition.

Sweet Potatoes with Oranges, Apples & Sweet Wine

This finished recipe looks simple, but the flavor pops! You can substitute fresh, peeled orange segments for the canned mandarin oranges, and use apple juice in place of the wine, if desired.

Makes 6 servings


  • 4 cups fresh sweet potatoes cut into ½-inch thick slices, then diced
  • 1 cup diced apple
  • 1, 15-ounce can of mandarin oranges in light syrup, drained
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ¼ cup plum wine, Chinese rice wine or other sweet wine
  • 3 whole cloves

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Place diced sweet potato in a saucepan with water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until just tender when pierced with a fork.

While potatoes are cooking, in a small bowl, combine apple, oranges, brown sugar, wine and cloves. Set aside. 

Once potatoes are cooked, drain and place in an 11x13 inch casserole dish lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Pour fruit and wine mixture over sweet potatoes.

Bake covered for 30 minutes or until apples are tender. Remove cloves before serving.

Approximate nutrients per serving: 180 calories, 1.5 grams protein, 0 grams fat, 36 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 52 milligrams sodium and 16 milligrams calcium.

Adapted from a recipe by Dr. Ron and Nancy Goor from the Eater’s Choice Low-Fat Cookbook (Houghton Mifflin Company).

Shown prepared without almonds

Sweet-n-Savory Green Beans

This colorful recipe combines green beans, almonds and cranberries in a lighter sauce than typical green bean casseroles. If desired, lightly toast cumin seed in a small skillet and pound with a mortar and pestle to bring out flavor. You can prepare it in advance to let the flavors mingle, and it is especially delicious as a leftover.

Makes 6 servings


  • 10 ounces fresh or frozen green beans
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 4 ounces dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • 1/4 cup cranberry juice cocktail
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup blanched almonds, toasted

If using fresh green beans, cook in boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes or until just tender. Drain; rinse in cold water.

Combine onion, water and salt in a large skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until water evaporates. Add beans, garlic, butter, cumin and curry powder, stirring to coat beans.

Stir in dried cranberries, sherry, juice cocktail and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook for 5 to 10 minutes or until liquid evaporates and mixture is heated through. Sprinkle with almonds.

Nutrients per serving: 176 calories, 2 grams protein, 6 grams fat, 25 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 286 milligrams sodium, 42 milligrams calcium.

Adapted from a recipe at

Recipes prepared by Mary-Jo Sawyer, R.D., registered dietitian in the Outpatient Nutrition Clinic at VCU Health. 

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