Preheat the oven to 400F, and peel the sweet potatoes, if desired. Cut them into 1-inch pieces, so they will cook evenly.
Place the potato pieces in a 9-inch x 13-inch casserole dish, or something similar in size. Add in the maple syrup, coconut oil, cinnamon, and salt, and toss well to coat the potatoes. Place them in the oven to bake uncovered for 20 minutes.
When the timer goes off, take the potatoes out of the oven and give them a stir. Return them to the oven to bake for another 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, repeat the process, stirring every 15 minutes until the potatoes are fork-tender and the maple syrup is no longer very liquidy looking. (It will disappear even more as the potatoes cool.) This should take about 1 hour total, but yours might be done in 50-55 minutes total, so keep an eye on them towards the end of the cooking cycle.
If you'd like to add the pecans, stir them in as soon as the potatoes come out of the oven. Add a squeeze of lemon juice over the top, and stir again, to brighten up the flavor and cut some of the sweetness. (Highly recommend the lemon juice-- not orange juice, which I also tried.)
Serve warm, as a side dish with your favorite holiday main course. Leftover sweet potatoes can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container.
Nutrition information is for 1 of 8 servings, and does not include the optional pecans. This information is just an estimate, and not a guarantee.For a less-sweet dish, use only 1/3 cup of maple syrup. I have not tested this recipe with honey or coconut sugar, but I imagine those might work here, too.For an oil-free recipe, you can most likely leave out the coconut oil. I add it so the potatoes won't brown too quickly before they become tender.