I'll admit that until recently I always bought pie crusts. It seemed easier and some are actually pretty good. I have a Trader Joe's one that is my standby. However, I was really wanting to make pumpkin pie the other day now that fall has arrived, but I did not have a crust available. I could have driven to the store and bought one, but I really wasn't in the mood. So I decided to experiment and looked up a few ideas online. I went with a variation of "healthy pie crust" recipes I found. Mostly this pie crust uses a butter/coconut oil mix and no shortening. Best of all, no preservatives and I can pronounce all ingredients. It is surprisingly easy, quicker than driving to the store (unless you live next door), and tastes great. Now I can enjoy pies all fall and winter whether I'm prepared with a pie crust on hand or not.
 
 
My husband's birthday is tomorrow and I wanted to make him something sweet to celebrate. I was having a hard time deciding between cheesecake or something chocolate. I know, life is really tough sometimes isn't it? I finally decided that I shouldn't have to settle for one or the other, and I would instead make a chocolate cheesecake. Wooooo!

Of course this wasn't just a matter of making a chocolate cheesecake, I wanted to find a way to make it a little bit healthier. Surprise. :-)  Anyways, I looked up a few yogurt cheesecake recipes online and found one I liked. I made a few tweaks (such as adding chocolate and changing the crust), but the idea for the cheesecake came from this website: http://www.abakinggirl.com/2013/01/21/greek-yogurt-cheesecake/

Although I'm never quite sure what to expect when changing up a recipe for a "healthy alternative", I have to say this was pretty fantastic. It still had a nice creamy "cheesecake" flavor, but without that miserable ball-of-cheesecake-sitting-in-my-stomach feeling afterwards. However, just because it's a lighter dessert doesn't mean that consuming multiple pieces won't also result in an overly full feeling. We won't mention any names, will we birthday boy?

I thought the way I made it originally was a little too intensely chocolatey (I know, blasphemy), and also the crust was too thick proportional to the cheesecake layer. I've adjusted the amounts in this recipe to reflect what I *think* will be better.

After tasting the deliciousness of this yogurt chocolate cheesecake, I'm inspired to make other types of cheesecake. Pumpkin cheesecake in the fall, peanut butter banana, strawberry... ahhh the possibilities. Happy cheesecake making!
 
 
I like chicken but sometimes I feel it gets a little old. Not that I'm eating old chicken, that would be gross. And for the record, if your chicken has a funky smell or mold then maybe you should toss it and try something else. Ok, so now that everyone has lost their appetite...

This honey ginger chicken bites recipe is a way to spice up chicken a little bit. The honey glaze adds a nice marinade, but then also works as a delicious dip. It's also not fried or soaked in butter, so it will fit most diets (unless you're vegetarian of course). I also find myself coming back to this recipe because I can prepare the chicken earlier in the day or the night before, and then have it ready to pop in the oven when I get home from work.

Enjoy!
 
 
This eggplant lasagna is a great alternative to traditional lasagna. Not that I'm saying there is anything wrong with traditional lasagna, but my goal is to get more vegetables into everyday meals. If that isn't ambitious enough, I also want to diversify the types of vegetables I'm eating. I have my favorites that show up in a majority of meals, but I want to learn about and find ways to use others. Eggplant is one I don't eat often. It doesn't really have a lot of flavor to me and I don't have great ideas of how to use it in meals... but that will change! 
 
 
I originally got this cauliflower pizza recipe idea from a friend, who got it from a friend, who got it from a website that is geared towards gluten-free eating. Mostly I loved the idea of sneaking cauliflower into a pizza meal. I have nothing against cauliflower. However, it tends to be a rather bland tasting vegetable so I rarely eat it. The recipe does have a good bit of cheese in it (we are talking pizza after all), but the cheese really is necessary to keep the crust somewhat together. So if you're cutting, try not to cut too much. The downside of this pizza is that although the flavor is really good, the crust is a bit crumbly. When I make it again I will try to 1) add more cheese to see if that keeps the crust together better, and if that doesn't work then 2) add a little flour and yeast to make it a half-cauliflower crust and a half-normal dough crust. I also changed up some of the spices in the crust based on my personal tastes, feel free to do the same for your taste buds. Overall, very tasty alternative to regular pizza.
 
 
Don't judge me but... bell peppers really aren't my favorite. I like the idea of them, and I like them on pizza or hidden in recipes with multiple ingredients, but I've never been keen on straight bell peppers. However, I had a bunch sitting around and hated to waste them so I figured what could I do to make them more to my liking? Of course, sweeten them up! This is really a pretty simple recipe, just your peppers plus sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese and a couple spices. My guess is other cheeses and spice combinations would be equally delicious. Yay, now I can claim to be a pepper lover!
 
 
I like carrots, but to be honest I can only eat so many raw carrots before I’m tired of them. In the winter I seem to like all my foods warm (my way of heating up I guess), so I decided cooked carrots would be a nice way to change it up. I was originally thinking BBQ sauce, but since I didn’t have any at the time and was not up for a drive to the store, I made my own. This one turned out pretty well. I wouldn't put it on my pulled pork necessarily, but it's great with the carrots. It’s a little spicy, because I like my foods spicy. If you're thinking "great, another spicy dish I don't like" then never fear - It's easy to change out the hot spices for something milder/sweeter. Enjoy the BBQ Carrots!
 
 
I had a craving for cookies the other day and I had some shredded coconut so I decided I wanted to make coconut cookies. Problem is, I'm currently not eating flour or granulated sugar, so my options were limited. I still *needed* cookies (for my sanity), so I knew my only option was to create a recipe of my own. I started with a coconut peanut butter recipe I found online and eliminated the flour. I also substituted the white and brown granulated sugars in the recipe for honey, added almonds, and changed a few more amounts since I wasn't using flour. My husband and I were somewhat skeptical that these would turn out to be stellar cookies since we had changed so much of the recipe, but we figured if nothing else the batter would hit the spot. They actually turned out really well!

Also, I'm no gluten-free expert but since these don't use flour they might qualify... but check it out first before serving to a friend who has a gluten intolerance and causing him/her some problems later.
:-)

Finally, a friend tried them and used some oats instead of part of the almonds, she said that was really good. I imagine you could make several substitutions here and get a similar effect. Ex: Almond butter instead of peanut butter; other nuts/oats instead of almonds; add a few chocolate chips. Enjoy the cookies!
 
 
Not much in the produce section is really looking good this time of year, but broccoli is thriving. I do love broccoli, but after a while there is only so much of it I want to eat steamed as a side dish. This broccoli cheddar soup is a good way to mix it up. It's ready in under an hour and really hits the spot on a cold winter day.
 
 
Beans get a bad rap for being boring. And I have to admit that a lot of the time they can be. As a child the thought of pinto beans sounded so dry and gross. It was clearly something that only my parents would eat.

However, there are SO many great ways to fix beans to make them more exciting. I have a sweet tooth, so for me adding some honey, ginger, and other spices to my beans gave them much more of a comfort food taste. I've even made these beans for people who originally heard pinto beans and thought "great, should have come for dinner a different night" and ended up really liking them!

There's no exact science called for in this bean recipe. Feel free to add more, or no, meat. Add more honey, ginger, or any other spice you want/have in the pantry. Enjoy!