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 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!
 
 
With Thanksgiving around the corner it's the perfect time to think about pumpkin pie. I have lots of pumpkin puree in my freezer and it's been screaming at me to use it somehow. In my mind the key to a delicious pumpkin pie is as follows:
1. Use good pumpkin puree. If the pumpkin itself is flavorless, then your pie will be flavorless.
2. Use honey instead of sugar. Mostly because I love the flavor honey adds and it's (in my opinion) better for you than regular sugar.
3. Sample the batter. I know that's a "no no" in most houses, but I'm a huge fan of tasting along the way. How else will you know if it's good enough to eat or not? In this case, the amount of sugar, cream, and spices completely depends on the flavor of your pumpkin. So it's a gamble if you don't sample the batter.
4. Use heavy cream, not skim milk. The heavy cream adds a little fat, but a ton of flavor. It's not going to taste as good with just milk. Plus, if you eliminate all the fat then you can't count it as a dessert anymore because it will be too healthy so just go for it.
 
 
Cookies! I'm all for eating healthy, but I'm not going to make it long without chocolate. Maybe it's a weakness I have for those dark morsels... or maybe it's the key to long life. I have read many articles talking about the health benefits of chocolate and I unquestioningly believe every word. To make sure I'm getting a healthy dose of chocolate on a regular basis I keep all the ingredients around (they won't go bad quickly) and then I can make a small batch of cookies when needed. Speaking of, I might make some right now...
 
 
I love chocolate! I am a firm believer in the power of chocolate to make any day better. Some nights I just *need* to make chocolate chip muffins. But with that said, I don't need a dozen and I don't need the pure butter and sugar muffin recipe. The way I see it... if I make healthier (yet still moist and tasty) muffins, then I can have two since they're better for me. Like how I just rationalized doubling my chocolate muffin intake?  :-)  Also, for those who make a whole batch of something and then end up eating them all at once, this recipe only makes four muffins so feel free to eat them all!
 
 
I can demolish a bag of frozen fruit. It's a great snack and satisfies my sweet tooth without leaving me with a stomach ache. My favorite snack is frozen blueberries, mangos, or peaches. I've only found two downsides: 1) I have to huddle beneath a blanket when I eat these in the winter, and 2) The frozen blueberries turn my teeth and lips blue.

Just make sure you get the no-sugar-added frozen or fresh fruit and then freeze. Happy snacking!
 
 
I love pie! Well, really anything sweet but apple pie is a favorite. The problem is that when I eat a lot of really heavy sweet foods my stomach ends up hurting and all I want to do is lay around and wallow in my lack of self-discipline.

So... I decided that instead of setting the unrealistic goal of never eating rich/sweet foods again, I'd find ways to make my favorites healthier.

This apple pie recipe is mostly apples (they're good for you!), and only 2 teaspoons of sugar in the whole pie. There's also no added butter beyond what is found in your pie crust. I know you're thinking... without all the butter and sugar this is going to be gross. Well give it a try because it's really good. Every time I make a pie it seems to disappear quickly.

My preference is to top the pie with frozen vanilla yogurt, emphasis on the yogurt. Frozen yogurt tastes the same as ice cream (depending on the brand), and is much better for you. I prefer Edy's Frozen Yogurt. If you get it at Target it's half the price as Harris Teeter. And of course there are other delicious flavors you can try as well. The frozen yogurt still has a decent amount of sugar in it to give it a delicious flavor, but yogurt has many benefits for the body including good bacteria that help the stomach.

For this recipe I have included a store-bought pie because it's delicious and super easy. I buy them when they're half-off so it's hard to beat the price. But for those that want to be even healthier, I will include a homemade crust recipe in a future post.

Hope you enjoy the apple pie!
 
 
I love to start my day with a fruit smoothie. 1) It tastes good, 2) It gets me the fruit I need for the day, which can be hard to do in the winter, and 3) It gives my internal parts the fiber and nutrients needed to help me feel "on" and energetic for the day. The beauty of the smoothie recipe is that it is very forgiving. You can add most anything you want and it will still be good. I personally love frozen blueberries, strawberries, and mangos, but they're all good. I like to keep things exciting by trying new fruit when I see it. (Yes, I find that exciting.) Last thing: buy your fruit on sale and freeze it, or buy it in bulk at Target or some sort of Costsco/BJ's. 

Enjoy - and make sure you're getting some fruit each day!