Sweet and Savory Pot Roast



I’m super excited to have a special guest blogger today! I got an email from 15-year-old Abby months ago, and my first reaction was “No way is this girl 14 years old!” She’s articulate, polished, and dang! she can cook. Today, she’s sharing some smart thinking on smart starches and a luscious recipe for Sweet and Savory Pot Roast. (And after you get your protein, don’t miss her recipe for Paleo Gingerbread Men, just in time for Christmas.)

Take it away, Abby!


Hi, everyone! I’m Abby, the fifteen year-old chef behind the food blog Yes to Yummy.

My whole life, I’ve loved food… and sometimes, a little too much. I ate relatively healthy at home, but given the opportunity, I’d go to town on sweets and snacks. Right after my fourteenth birthday, my weight reached a tipping point, and I then decided to take matters into my own hands. But you know how they say too much of a good thing is a bad thing? Well, something like that happened to me. I became overly obsessive with measuring out my portion sizes and NEVER let myself indulge. My weight got down to unhealthy levels, and I found that my low-fat, calorie-restrictive diet just wasn’t working. I was then introduced to the Paleo diet, and my life was once again changed. I started eating more fat, going to farmers markets for fresh fruits and vegetables, and began visiting a butcher to get fresh, locally raised meat. Today, I feel the best I’ve ever felt; I still can’t believe I did it! Over the course of my weight-loss journey and food education, I fell in love with food and healthy cooking, and now rarely crave the processed fare my friends gorge on. Pass the baby carrots and shredded coconut, please!


Well Fed was one of the first paleo cookbooks I had looked at when reshaping my diet. Still in my low-fat-is-best mindset, I took one look at all of the coconut oil and thought, “What am I getting myself into?!” After I tried my first recipe, I was hooked: the dish had so much flavor, and I felt great afterwards, too! Since then, I have made… *counts* …25 or 26 of Mel’s recipes. It is truly one of the most solid cookbooks I have ever used; everything I’ve tried has been insanely, insanely delicious. My family’s favorites are the Bora Bora Fireballs and the Shepherd’s Pie, but that’s a tough call — there are so many more dishes we love!

Mel is one of my favorite cooks out there (paleo or not), and I love her creative recipes and spunky style. She’s such an inspiration, and I couldn’t be more excited to do a guest post on The Clothes Make The Girl. Thanks so much, Mel!

Let’s Talk About Sweet Potatoes

Did you know that the closest relative to a sweet potato is the Morning Glory flower? While sweet potatoes and white potatoes may look similar, they’re actually very distantly related.

White Versus Sweet
Some paleo people endorse white potatoes; others steer clear of them. Personally, I’m OK with having some plain old potatoes — particularly fingerlings and blue potatoes — once in a while, but most of the time, I go for sweet potatoes. For one, I prefer their taste: even on its own, a baked sweet potato is gooey, sweet, and comforting, especially during the fall and winter months. While white potatoes do have some nutritional benefits, sweet potatoes certainly have more: eating a whole one with the skin provides nearly 700% of your daily Vitamin A (WOW!), a decent amount of Vitamin C, and plenty of potassium, as well as a wide array of other nutrients. Sweet potatoes also help restore gut flora, which keeps your intestines healthy and working properly. If you’re transitioning to a paleo lifestyle, sweet potatoes are a must!

How Much?
Each individual is different, so the amount of starch you eat is dependent on how active you are and what makes you feel good. If you’re fairly active and/or growing, a good amount of starch will definitely benefit athletic performance. Remember, carbohydrates are the body’s basic source of fuel: it burns extremely quickly, making it great for aerobic activities. On the flip side, because sweet potatoes burn so quickly, you really need to eat some fat and/or protein with it to minimize the insulin spike. A little fat will help your body absorb the sweet potato’s nutrients, too! If you’re eating a sweet potato all by its lonesome, a little bit of coconut or nut butter on top will definitely increase the satiating power. (And make it even more tasty, too, especially with a little cinnamon. Yummy!)

One of my favorite dishes to make with sweet potatoes is this Sweet and Savory Pot Roast. On a cold winter day, this braised pot of goodness is about as close as you can come to perfection. The sweet potatoes team up with carrots and just a little dried fruit, while sauteed onions, homemade beef broth, and a whole head of garlic pack a killer unami punch. This is certainly a meal you’ll want to slow down and savor, especially with friends and family.


Sweet and Savory Pot Roast from Yes to Yummy

Serves 8

  • 1 4-pound chuck roast

  • salt and ground black pepper

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil (or fat of your choice)

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 2 cups beef broth (preferably homemade)

  • 2 large carrots, chunked

  • 2 small sweet potatoes (about 1 lb), peeled and cut into cubes

  • 1 head garlic, papery skin removed and sliced in half width-wise

  • 6 apricots (or other dried fruit)

  • 6 prunes (or other dried fruit)


Heat a large Dutch Oven or other heavy-duty pot over medium heat. Add the coconut oil and let melt. Pour a generous amount of salt and pepper into a small dish and crumble in the bay leaf. Mix together with a small fork or your fingers and rub the mixture all over the chuck roast. Don’t skimp! Salt will help your meat get brown as well as give it fantastic flavor.


Once the oil is melted and hot, add the chuck roast. Set the timer for ten minutes and STEP. AWAY. If you constantly turn and check the meat, it’ll never get the nice sear you’re looking for!


When the timer goes off, flip the roast over and sear for another ten minutes. Turn the flame down if you can smell any fat burning. Rescue your roast from the hot pot and place it on a plate or rimmed cutting board. Set aside.


To the remaining oil/beef fat, add the onion and sauté until golden brown, about 7 to 9 minutes. If they start to dry out, add a pinch of salt and a little more coconut oil, and turn down the flame if the onions start to scorch.


Add the tomato paste (quickly — tomato paste splatters!) and stir to combine. Saute for another minute, then add in the beef broth.


Bring the beef broth to a boil, then turn the heat down to nearly a simmer and plop the roast back into the pot. Put the lid on and cook for an hour and a half, flipping over every 15 or 20 minutes.


When you’ve reached the hour and a half mark, add the carrots, sweet potato, garlic, and dried fruit. Submerge them in the beef broth, adding a little broth more if necessary, and recover the pot with the lid. Cook for another 45 minutes to an hour, continuing to flip the roast every 15 to 20 minutes.


At this point, you can start checking the pot roast for done-ness. If you can easily cut into the roast with a knife without much resistance, it’s ready! Be careful not to overcook your pot roast; it can dry out and be very unpleasant to eat. Transfer the roast to a clean cutting board and cover with aluminum foil to keep it warm. Meanwhile, turn up the heat beneath the pot to medium high and bring the broth and veggies to a boil. Let cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally.


Slice the pot roast and serve with the sauce and veggies on top. A purée complements this dish perfectly — I made Mel’s mashed cauliflower!



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  • Sarah says:

    This girl is impressive! And the recipe sounds delicious!

  • Lisa says:

    I love stories like this. Abby is truly an inspiration. That pot roast looks amazing. My cooking is put to shame by a 14 yr old. Go Abby!

  • Julia says:

    Abby, you are one to watch! I’m inspired to cook so many things from your blog. What a wonderful young woman you are. Your parents must be very proud of you.
    Keep cooking good food!

  • That’s my girl!! I love Abby. She is so amazing!! <3

  • Mom says:

    Abby is “A” for adorable. What an outstanding your women. I’m very impressed. I think it’s “A” for awesome that you featured her on you blog. Love you honey!! <3

  • Brad Rutledge says:

    I’m glad to see some young people leading the way for others who might not yet know that there is a better, healthier, way. Maybe they can bring some of their contemporaries, and some of us oldsters, along for the ride. Namaste.

  • De23 says:

    Thanks for this recipe! I get a lot of roasts from my meat CSA and am always looking for tasty variations for fixing them. And Abby, as someone who works with kids not much younger than you on writing, I must say that you are a GENIUS!

  • Chance Bunger says:

    Made this for dinner tonight – the sauce is spectacular – i added one teaspoon of fish sauce at the part just before the addition of the tomato paste to the onions … this jumped the Umami off the chart! The whole family raved. Served it over cauliflower faux potatoes, it turned out the way you would expect where you couldn’t even tell they weren’t potatoes. Thanks for the great recipe!

  • Ciarra says:

    Yay Abby!!! Sounds fantastic!

  • Sonya says:

    This looks amazing and so is Abby!

  • Camala says:

    Delicious! I love the sauce, it’s amazing! And it paired beautifully with Mel’s mashed cauli.

  • Alaina says:

    Could you clarify on the garlic part? Do you mean a whole head or a clove of garlic?


    • Abby says:

      Hi Alaina!

      I mean the whole head of garlic. The flavor it adds is absolutely wonderful, and you can squeeze it out into the sauce when it’s done cooking. 🙂

  • Cindy says:

    I just received my new pressure cooker and this was the first thing I made in it. It was the best roast I’ve ever had – FABULOUS!

  • Sheri says:

    This was crazy delicious. I substituted butternut squash for the sweet potatoes and used 6 dates and 6 apricots, which I chopped up. My husband said it was one of the best dishes I’ve ever made. Thanks so much for the great recipe!

  • Fran Strauss says:

    I’m a cyber dinasour trying hard to stay up. I’m sorry t’m not commenting on this particular post, bit I’ve been following Melissa and loving her first book,it’s dog eared and well loved. I’m in the process of making the char siu Chinese pork chops and having difficulty following the instructions and couldn’t figure out where else to turn; it says to take the foil off after 20 minuets and cook for another 45…. ,then proceeds to tell me to take the foil off again when I up the temp to 500…. Was I supposed to put the foil back on at some point?

    Melissa & “friends” have changed my life forever.. I look forward to exploring Abby’s recepies.

    • Mel says:

      Hi, Fran!

      Thank you for buying an early copy of Well Fed! You’re the lucky owner of the first printing with a typo 🙂

      The instructions told you to remove the foil twice. Here’s what it should say:

      Remove the pork from the marinade and place on the rack, then cover the entire pan with aluminum foil, crimping the edges to form a seal. Roast the pork for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and roast an additional 40-45 minutes ­– watch for the edges to begin to turn a lovely brown.

      Increase the oven temperature to 500 F and roast for 8-12 minutes more, until it’s evenly browned. Carefully remove the pork from the oven and brush the tops and sides of the pieces with half the sauce. You want complete coverage with a thin layer so the sauce forms a glaze in the oven. As my dad would say, “Put it on like you’re taking it off.”

      There were a few other errors in the first printing. All the details can be found here: