Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

No-Sugar Added Pumpkin Pie

24 Nov

I was on a mission this weekend. A mission to create a dreamy, creamy, no-sugar added pumpkin pie. I have been dreaming up this pie for a couple weeks now.



The hubs was traveling and I decided to dedicate my weekend to making my dream a reality.




Cold weather in the Mitten = me wanting to crank on my oven, bust out the sugar, butter, and eggs and get my groove on in the kitchen. While this is mentally and emotionally comforting, physically, it doesn’t do the body good.

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I’m all about moderation in the food we eat. When the temperatures drop, I crave comfort food. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the warm comfort  of my Paper Bag Apple Pie, slathering some butter on my Maple-Thyme Parmesan Biscuits, or indulging in some Toasted Oatmeal Scones…once in a while. Usually the moderation part comes easily for me but when the wind chills plummet to below zero and the snow piles a foot high before Thanksgiving? I find balance in my diet a lot harder to achieve. I feel like us midwesterners deserve these foods. We deserve the comfort, the aroma, the melt-in-your-mouth goodness of these treats.


Since this winter looks like it is going to be a long one, I have decided that I should start tweaking some of the comfort foods I make so they are a little friendlier on the waist-line.

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been focusing on cutting back sugar in my cooking/baking. Sometimes it’s a total success, as it was with this pumpkin pie and sometimes it’s a total failure, as in the time I tried to cut the sugar by half in a brownie recipe and we were basically gnawing on cardboard. You win some and you lose some.  Luckily, I won some with this pumpkin pie and you will, too!

No-Sugar Added Pumpkin Pie

Serves 8

Note: It’s important to keep an eye on the edges of your crust as this pie bakes. As you can tell from my photographs, I got distracted and my crust got a little burnt. Use tin foil folded over the edges of your pie to prevent them from burning while your pie finishes baking. 

For the Crust:

1 1/4 cups pecan halves

1/2 cup ground flaxseed

1/4 teaspoon salt

11 Medjool dates, pitted

1 tablespoon vanilla

For the Pie Filling

11 Medjool dates, pitted and soaked in warm water for 15 minutes

1 cup pumpkin puree

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1/16 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/8 teaspoon cloves

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1. Grease a pie plate with coconut oil. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, pulse pecans, flaxseed, and salt together until it forms a fine meal. Add the dates and vanilla and pulse until combined.

3. Firmly press the crust into a greased pie plate. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes.

4. Add all of the pie filling ingredients into a high speed blender. Turn blender on lowest setting and quickly increase to high. Blend until smooth, about 1 minute.

5. Pour pie filling into crust. Smooth the filling using an offset spatula. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Allow pie to set out for 3 hours before serving.



Cranberry Walnut Goat Cheese Spread

10 Dec

What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?

Hands down, mine is enjoying good food with the people I love. And I got to do that this past weekend. I am fortunate enough to live only a couple hours from my best friends. We decided to have a roommate Christmas dinner. This was a take on a roommate Thanksgiving we had in college. We were missing a few old roommates but lets just say we have all matured and no longer feel the need to dress up like pilgrims, sing weird songs, and consume copious amounts of alcohol. This meal was a far cry from the rotisserie chicken we had as the main course for Thanksgiving in college.

It was my ideal night: good friends, good food, and good wine.

Since I was traveling, I was in charge of an easily transportable appetizer.


We had a curried butternut squash apple soup, slow-cooked short ribs, arugula salad, roasted sweet potatoes with pork belly, and sautéed Swiss chard with pearl onions.


And how could I forget the amazing flourless chocolate cake with fresh whipped cream?!


Who are these amazing people my friends have grown up to be?

I share with you my contribution to the roommate Christmas dinner: Cranberry Walnut Goat Cheese Spread.


Cranberry Walnut Goat Cheese Spread

6 oz low fat cream cheese, softened

8 oz goat cheese, softened

2/3 cup chopped walnuts, lightly toasted

2/3 cup dried cranberries

In a medium bowl, combine the softened cream cheese and goat cheese. Mix in cranberries and walnuts. Serve with cracker of choice.

Lightened Up Garlic Mashed Potatoes

26 Nov

With Thanksgiving just a few days away, it’s the perfect time to share my go-to mashed potato recipe.


I scaled it down to make the perfect amount for two people but it can easily be multiplied to fit the crowd you’re feeding. They are the perfect creamy and buttery side to accompany your meal without multiplying your waistline.

I’ve made these with a few varieties of potatoes but prefer the texture and taste when made with Yukon golds. It’s important to start the potatoes in cold water so they cook evenly.

Lightened Up Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Serves 2 (generously)

12 oz Yukon gold potatoes (4-5 small potatoes), peeled and diced into 2-inch cubes

1 tablespoon skim milk

1 tablespoon low-fat cream cheese

1 tablespoon light butter

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Place diced potatoes into a small pot and enough cold water to fill 1-inch above potatoes. Cover pot and bring water to a boil. Boil until potatoes are fork tender, about 15-20 minutes.

2. Drain potatoes and return to pot off the heat. Cover pot and allow potatoes to sit for 5 minutes.

3. Add milk, cream cheese, butter, onion and garlic powder. Using an electric mixer whip potatoes at medium speed until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Lightened Up Pumpkin Pie

16 Nov

The older I get, the more I realize I have in common with my grandma. My mom’s mom loved spending time in the kitchen. We would go to her house for dinner and have a simple dinner of chicken, green beans, and mashed potatoes that she had spent hours in the kitchen working on…and it was delicious. I have vivid memories of her enjoying the task of meticulously chopping vegetables for a beautiful mixed greens salad. She would make popcorn on the stove with just the right amount of oil and seasoned with just the right amount of salt. And I wonder where I get my love of being in the kitchen from?

The same can be said for my great aunt (my grandma’s sister). It’s a tradition this time of year to make Aunt Lucy’s pumpkin pie.


With the slightest variations from the recipe of the back of Libby’s canned pumpkin, Aunt Lucy has made this pie is a highlight of Thanksgiving for me. The recipes has been passed down on an old index card with specific directions such as “stir ingredients 100 times with a wooden spoon”, “use 1 and 3/4 can Libby’s canned pumpkin”. I tweaked her recipe slightly to make it just a tad healthier. Don’t worry, I maintained the important parts and still mix it 100 times with a wooden spoon 🙂

Enjoy leftovers (if there are any) the next day for breakfast with this recipe .

Lightened Up Pumpkin Pie

Makes 1 pie

1 pie crust (I like Pillsbury if I want to save time and use a store-bought crust)

1 egg and 2 egg whites, slightly beaten

1 3/4 can Libby pumpkin

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 heaping tsp flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp cloves
1 1/2 cup fat free evaporated milk
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put all ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well with wooden spoon 100 times.
2. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 45 minutes. Allow pie to cool completely before serving.

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

9 Nov



Meet oatmeal


And create the most delicious and somewhat nutritious breakfast ever had.


This is the perfect use for leftover pie that you have after Thanksgiving. As Americans, we have officially entered the eating frenzy.  Starting on October 31st and sometimes lasting all the way until February 14th (think more chocolate, another fancy dinner). I am a firm believer in enjoying the moment and embracing each holiday and the food that comes with it. I am not, however, a firm believer in indulging day after day with the excuse of “it’s the holidays”. So, what to do when you have all those yummy leftovers, especially pumpkin pie.

If you really think about it, pumpkin pie is a healthier dessert option on Turkey Day. Pumpkin is loaded with nutrients (think vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber) and is pretty low in calories. It’s the sugar, egg, and high fat dairy that we add to it and the buttery crust that we put it in that turn it into a splurge.

With a few tweaks, your pumpkin pie can turn into a healthy and delicious breakfast. Start with a lower fat pumpkin pie recipe (recipe coming soon), scrape out the filling and add it to a steaming hot bowl of oatmeal made with unsweetened almond milk, throw in a heaping tablespoon of flaxseed meal, and sprinkle with a few chopped pecans, and sit back and “indulge” in a healthy breakfast as you rehash the events from the wonderful meal the night before with your family.

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Makes 1 serving

1/2 cup rolled oats (quick cooking or old-fashioned)

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 tablespoon flaxseed meal

1 slice pumpkin pie, filling only

1 teaspoon chopped pecans

Combine the flaxseed, oats, and almond milk. Microwave on high for 3-5 minutes until cooked. Add pumpkin pie filling, sprinkle with chopped pecans, pour a cup of coffee, and enjoy 🙂

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