Baked Sweet Potato Recipe: How Fennel and Hazelnuts Can Give You Joy

By  Elizabeth Herman | Posted: June 24, 2020

For any time of year, sweet potatoes smell delicious while baking in the oven. Smells can take us back to our childhood, evoking distinct memories, such as a grandmother’s sweet potato pie, or a father’s woodworking shop that was full of fresh sawdust. 

This vegetarian recipe asks you to serve them in a uniquely nutritious way, with nuts, warming spices, fennel, and a helping of ghee (healthy fat). With these ingredients, you’ll have a wonderful, winning, healthy, and tasty dish for either dinner or lunch, excellent with brown rice, quinoa, or whole grain noodles.


Sweet potatoes offer many health benefits, being high in potassium, Vitamins A and C, and fiber, as well as beta carotene. North Carolina (my adopted home state) has been the top producer of sweet potatoes in the U.S. since 1971, contributing about 60% of all the sweet potatoes in our food supply.

U.S. grown fennel comes mostly from California, and it’s also known as anise. Imports of fennel come mostly from Egypt and India. A half cup serving of fennel contains 47 calories, 2 grams of protein, 3.8 grams of carbohydrates, 2.7 grams of fat, .5 grams of fiber, and 74 milligrams of calcium. It also makes a lovely spring salad tossed in a vinaigrette, with or without shredded cabbage. 

Also known as filberts, hazelnuts are rich in unsaturated fats (oleic acid), Vitamins B and E, magnesium, and calcium. They support heart health, muscle building, and can help with problems like diabetes and memory loss, along with providing high amounts of protein and fiber. The state of Oregon produces about 99 % of the U.S. supply. As they become more popular among American eaters, their reputation as a superfood grows. They add a delightful, crunchy texture to this fennel and sweet potato bake: 

Ingredients (for 4 servings)

  • 1 head thinly sliced fennel

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes

  • 2 Tbsp ghee

  • 2 tsp each of ground coriander, cardamom, cumin, and salt

  • 1 tsp each of ground cinnamon and turmeric

  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds

  • 1/2-3/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Cut the sweet potatoes into cubes. 

  2. In a small pot, melt ghee. Stir in the cumin, coriander, cardamom, fennel, cinnamon, turmeric, salt, and mustard seeds, and cook over low heat until the mustard seeds start to dance.

  3. Place the sweet potatoes in a baking dish large enough to spread them out so they don’t steam too much.

  4. Pour the ghee/spice/fennel mixture over the sweet potatoes, and mix to coat evenly.

  5. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until tender when you pierce them with a fork (the smaller the vegetables, the less cooking time you’ll need). Stir them halfway through to ensure even cooking and well distributed spices.

  6. Garnish the vegetables with hazelnuts when they’re done.

Eating in peace

According to the ancient Indian life science of ayurveda, how and when we eat have as much of an impact on us as what we eat. Taking time to eat slowly in a peaceful, relaxed environment will support efficient digestion, absorption and use of nutrients, and the body’s optimal functioning. 

To set the stage, you can learn more about permanently adopting a calm state of mind and creating a serene, nourishing atmosphere with Beyond Breath - A Free Breath & Meditation Session - Online Session With a Live Instructor.

Ayurveda also describes sweet potatoes’ sweet, unctuous, grounding, satisfying, and strengthening qualities. They especially support the functioning of the liver and spleen. 

With tender fennel, crunchy hazelnuts, and flavorful spices, this sweet potato dish will boost your health in any season, along with providing an enjoyable eating experience. 

Elizabeth Herman writes, offers writing support to clients, teaches, and volunteers for a better world. She has a PhD in Rhetoric, Composition and Literature. Find her on Facebook or Twitter.

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