Sunny Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Mash (With Citrus Power!)
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buttnut and sweet potato mash distance

It’s always delightful when a four or five ingredients come together to create something blissful. Such is the case with this brightly flavored butternut squash and sweet potato mash. I was inspired to try it when I tasted some smashed butternut and sweet potatoes at a friend’s home on Thanksgiving this year. I thought it was ingenious: combining the two types of root veggies creates variety and contrast of texture, as well as subtle sweetness. My friend mentioned she’d added a little bit of orange juice, and indeed, the citrus notes brought everything to life.

butternut and sweet potato close up

This recipe requires just a few key ingredients: coconut oil, for a comforting, buttery taste, salt and pepper (of course), an orange, and your root veggies. It’s fun to make, and the leftovers keep well.

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Orange Infused Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Mash

Author - Gena Hamshaw


  • 4 cups butternut squash peeled and chopped into 1-2 inch pieces
  • 2 medium sized garnet sweet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil divided
  • Juice of 1 large navel orange about 1/2-2/3 cup
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste


  • 1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Toss the butternut squash in one tablespoon of coconut oil and transfer to a foil or parchment lined baking sheet. Prick the sweet potatoes and place them on another baking sheet. Place both sheets in oven and roast the butternut squash till golden and soft (about 25 minutes) and the sweet potatoes till totally tender (about 40-45 minutes).
  • 2. When they're cool enough, scoop the flesh from the sweet potato skins and transfer to either a food processor or a mixing bowl. Add the squash pieces, orange juice, and the second tablespoon of coconut oil. Mash with a potato masher, or, if you'd rather use your food processor, process till mashed but not entirely pureed. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.

butternut and sweet potato header

This dish was a good reminder to use more citrus in surprising places–orange and grapefruit juices add such wonderful brightness to dishes, especially in the winter when our bodies are screaming for sunny tastes.

I enjoyed my leftovers two days in a row as part of my packed lunches–yes, packed lunches are back! While I’m not bringing food to campus, I am bringing my lunchbox to Dr. Chutkan’s office on the days when I work with patients. In some ways, it’s fun to pack lunch–it forces me to put a little more thought into what I’ll be eating than I normally would. My days at Dr. Chutkan’s office tend to be fairly non-stop; she has built her practice around spending adequate time with each patient, but even so, it’s back-to-back. I’ve been trying to pack food that’s nutrient dense, filling, and really easy to pack. The following two lunches fit the bill:

packed lunch butternut 1

Brown basmati rice with chopped kale, dill, lemon, EVOO, salt and pepper, and some leftover mash. Served with arugula and an avocado. I usually try to bring some sort of tasty dressing, but when I haven’t got time to pack that, slicing an avocado up at work will do. Some trail mix for snacking through the day, too.

packedlunch butternut2

Lentils and chopped kale (I had a big frozen bag and have been defrosting and mixing into my lunches through the week), some of my mash, leftover green beans from last night’s dinner, along with a tofu tahini sauce. Trail mix and an apple for snacks. Proof that one dish can liven up a couple of easy lunches.

That’s it for tonight, friends–I hope you enjoy the mash!


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Categories: Recipes, Side Dishes
Ingredients: Butternut Squash
Dietary Preferences: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegan
Recipe Features: Holidays

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  1. Just a note – like all squashes and pumpkins, butternut squash is a fruit, not a root veggie 😉

  2. Thank you- I find your blog so inspiring. My partner is on a similar path and I can definitely relate to your posts. This looks delicious as always and I can’t wait to try it!

  3. I love you showing us a lunch all put together. I need this visual with the written breakdown. It’s really great. Makes it possible for me to do this. Thanks.

  4. I just discovered your blog and made the orange mash. OH MY LORDY! It is so good that I licked the mixer beaters! I had to add a little water to get them to mash. I am your official orange mash ambassador, having now sent this to friends and family. I’m also making the Very Green Tofu Scramble and the Collard Wraps. Thank you so much! I’m working toward a healthier me and you just gave me a BIG boost!

  5. HI Gena,
    In response to another great squash recipe I wanted to ask you a question, in view of your nutrition and medical background. Every winter the color of my skin on my hands becomes very orange (or it is always is but it is more visible when I am pale). I obviously eat more squash and sweet potatoes in the winter but every expert I’ve consulted says it would be impossible for me to eat enough orange food to cause the high levels of beta carotene….blood tests report it is very very high but all the research says that as long as its beta carotene derived from food, it is safe. I even read a book by a vegan proponent that said everyone should have an “orange glow” to their skin…meaning they consume enough vegetables. Do you have any insight?

  6. This looks great, love the vibrant color too. And your lunches are so pretty! Mine are usually leftovers dumped into containers. 😛

  7. These lunches are so aesthetically pleasing and I bet they were delicious too? It’s nice to get an idea of your servings too. After having an ED I still suffer with portion sizing. Making sure I eat an adequate amount without it being too much.

  8. Oh my goonis!! Sweet potato heaven. Simple as usual. Elegant and sounds delicious ♥

  9. Love the idea of adding a little orange juice. I’ve been incorporating a lot of lemon and lime into my cooking lately, definitely helps to keep things bright during the winter!

  10. Yay I’m so happy to see a packed lunch post! I have been trying to save lunchbox recipes on pinterest as I will be going back to work soon. It is really hard to find vegan lunchbox ideas!
    If you need an idea for a future post, I vote for lunch box round up! 🙂 Do you know any other blogs or websites with veggie lunch box posts? I think I’ve gone through all of yours already – and they are all beautiful!

    • I should add..when I say it’s been hard to find vegan lunchbox ideas I mean it is hard to find ADULT vegan lunch box ideas, or adult lunch boxes in general. It seems that all my lunchbox searches bring up kids lunches, with all the food cut into cute animal shapes or ABC’s, focused on being “cute” and not so much on nutrition.

    • I’d love to do such a round up, C! In the meantime, I’ll definitely be including my vegan lunchboxes on the blog more often. I really enjoy sharing them and creating them. My friend Valerie has some great lunchbox posts:

      And I entirely agree that adult lunchboxes, focused on nutrition and satiety, are under-depicted. I’ll do my best 🙂

  11. Love those flavor combos myself – dill/lemon and orange infusions for jolt of freshness in winter months…just the inspiration I need to flip over to my wintertime recipes and get out of my fall rut. This is my kind of packed lunch. Also, this another great lunch box, though I am wondering if this one is larger than the plastic, divided one you featured several months ago (which I bought and like, but find it isn’t nearly large enough for my packed greens – I guess my lunchtime greens-volume needs are greater than average!)

    • Hi Karen,

      So, alas, these boxes do not offer more space. In fact I’d say that they’re a bit less voluminous than the other lunchbox I shared and use. While I really love the green box, I was having trouble fitting it into my backpack (I was also toting around my laptop and some textbooks). Anyway, I’m in the same boat now in terms of space considerations, and I don’t want to carry two bags to work. So, I got these guys:–Lunchbox/dp/B0040MH642/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1386427146&sr=8-2&keywords=eco+friendly+lunch+box

      I find them easier to pack, and I like the little snack box that comes with the set, but it’s not ideal for salads and more voluminous dishes. It’s great for grains, legumes, and sandwiches. I miss packing a lot of greens, but lately my solution has been to use frozen, chopped spinach or kale (which I defrost and then mix directly into my grains or beans) as a way to squeeze more greens into lunch. And I use the green set, too — I just do it on days when I’m carrying less materials to work. I’ll be posting more on how I pack and plan lunch, especially if I do resume student life next year!


      • My precise predicament…no problem with grain/bean/veg. combos – dense in nutrition/calories, but mostly high volume, raw(ish) salads are much tougher to transport conveniently. Thanks for lowdown, and I look forward to your future lunchbox ideas. Have a lovely,warm (brrrrr….) weekend, G!

  12. As far as I’m concerned, packed lunches have always been “in” and never left 🙂 LOVE your colorful, fresh mix of flavors in the lunch box; and love the citrus-infused mash recipe!

  13. Adding orange juice to butternut squash and sweet potatoes sounds amazing!

  14. I’ve never been a huge fan of squash, but this does look sooo yummy I’m gonna have to give it a whirl 🙂

  15. Quick & simple – love it! I’m always mashing potatoes, I like the idea of switching it up.
    Your lunches are so cute! Where on earth do you find those super cute packs of artichoke hearts. I love them =)

    • I found them at whole foods! I always save jars, because I use them for nut milk and food storage, but this jar was particularly helpful for portable dressings 🙂

  16. Your packed lunches seriously put mine to shame! This mash reminds me of the sweet potato-stuffed oranges my mother-in-law makes every Thanksgiving. Citrus + sweet potato (and/or winter squash) are *made* for one another. (And I’ve definitely used that artichoke jar for salad dressing transport, too.)

    • So funny, Catherine! I always save small jars — I make a lot of dressings, and they’re very useful for those.

  17. That’s such a cool lunch box/container; your lunches look fabulous, too! I often get compliments at school on my lunches, but I feel like my creativity has been slacking a little bit lately. Thank you for inspiring me to mix it up, Gena!

  18. Gena, I LOVE love your food choices. So colorful, simple, & I know I would just love to eat it. You eat exactly how I wish I ate all of the time 🙂

    I also like that you eat an avocado with your lunch. These days I eat an avocado with my breakfast & it really helps tide me over until lunch. {In my “lowfat” days I NEVER would have done that (after all, avocados are “fattening”).}

    Is that a lunch box on the bottom pic? If so, what kind/brand?

  19. Lovely colours and it looks like a great packed lunch too! I really like orange in unexpected recipes, and this one reminds me of Kathy’s Orange Spiced Pumpkin Hummus.