Make: Gluten-Free Molasses Spice Mini Pumpkin Pies

Photograph by Becca Boyd

Photograph by Becca Boyd

You can put pumpkin in just about anything, but for me the classic pumpkin pie reigns supreme. While pumpkin pie is naturally packed with fiber, vitamin K and vitamin A (thank you, pumpkin!), the crust has always been a head-scratcher for me. I mean, when it comes to pie, there’s just no way around a buttery, fat-filled crust—or is there?

My latest creation was a revelation, you guys. I simply removed the crust all together, put my pies in ramekins, and topped them with a dollop of whipped cream. The outcome—a crustless, gluten-free mini pie—actually presents more elegantly than the regular kind, and no one will think you’re serving a “healthy” dessert. That can be our little secret.

If you’re hosting the Thanksgiving this year, feel free to make these up a day ahead (I like my pumpkin pie chilled). If not, offer to bring dessert. You’ll happily and guiltlessly nosh while accepting praise from your adoring public.

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Make: Protein-Packed Asian Chicken Salad with Ginger and Cilantro

Asian Chicken Salad | Photograph by Becca Boyd

Asian Chicken Salad | Photograph by Becca Boyd

Okay, you’ve made it past Halloween. Sure, you ate one too many Reese’s, but you’ve ditched the rest of the candy stash and are ready to get back on track. Of course, now Thanksgiving is around the corner, which could pose another looming threat by claiming what’s left of your self-discipline and leaving you helplessly shoving Christmas cookies in your mouth as you watch the scale tick upward.

Resist! Fight back! Do it by dialing up the health factor on every meal within your control. Soups, big salads and lean protein should be all that’s coming out of your kitchen until Thanksgiving Day, or what I like call “My Annual Excuse to Eat Lots of Pie Day.” This chicken salad will get you there. Flavorful and packed with protein, it’s great in a pita but one step healthier over mixed greens.

Hang in there—you can do it!

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Make: Tomato, White Bean and Rosemary Soup

Photo credit: Becca Boyd

Photo credit: Becca Boyd

A recent article by Mark Bittman in TIME magazine discussed how millenials’ obsession with food media—competition shows, Instagram, Pinterest, and so on—isn’t translating into our kitchens. Maybe we see the bar set so high that we figure anything we attempt will fail in comparison. On my blog, I try to make the recipes approachable for every skill level; food is a constant in our every day lives and, nine times out of 10, it won’t be glamorous.

This soup exemplifies those beliefs. Using canned tomatoes and beans, this beautifully healthy recipe comes together in about 30 minutes. It’s real, home-cooked food, and it’s simple enough for the most novice beginner. Dairy-free yet still creamy, thanks to the beans, it’s about as healthy, and I daresay tasty, as dinner can be.

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Make: 10-Minute White Bean and Tomato Chicken Salad

Photo by Becca Boyd

Photo by Becca Boyd

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on easy homemade salad dressings, and I mentioned that the Basic Vinaigrette is one that I use so often that the need for measuring is long forgotten. My family loves the flavor so much that it almost doesn’t matter what we toss it over—any dish we put it on instantly goes from being edible to being absolutely delicious.

Case in point: Though my very opinionated 3-year-old daughter had turned her nose up at the chopped tomatoes on her dinner plate just the night before, she happily noshed on a big dish of this chicken salad, chock-full of ripe farmers’ market tomatoes tossed with Basic Vinaigrette, the next day.

And speaking of tomatoes—did you know that the pulpy, seedy part is the most flavor-packed part of the tomato? After chopping the tomatoes for this dish up, scrape your cutting board into the bowl to get every last drop of flavor.

Now, to the recipe: Whether you’re going back to school this season or just settling into a new routine, fall can make dinnertime seem crunched. No need to call for takeout, though: You can have a mouth-watering (and uber-healthy) dinner on the table in just ten minutes with this salad. And cross your fingers there’s some leftover—the flavors are just as great, if not better, the next day.

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Make: Coconut-Maple Quinoa Granola

Photo by Becca Boyd

Photo by Becca Boyd

I have to admit that sometimes I can be a tad judge-y when it comes to omission diets. There are tons of books touting dairy, gluten or sugar avoidance with amazing results guaranteed. I’ve consistently maintained a solid position on team “everything in moderation.” But while I still stand by my position, I’ve recently made a major modification out of necessity: my exclusively breast-fed baby hates when I eat dairy.

So here’s my new stance: Omission diets can be a lifesaver for certain people, if and when they actually help you feel better (or they help your baby not to scream like a fighting raccoon). This quinoa granola is a wonderful, high protein start to your day whether you’re avoiding dairy (or gluten, if you use gluten-free oats) or not. Serve up about a third of a cup (granola is high calorie, so watch your portions, please) with fresh fruit and almond milk for a quick and naturally sweet meal.

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The Most Delicious Way Ever to Eat Beets

Photo by Becca Boyd

Photo by Becca Boyd

August and September are my favorite times of year to go to the farmers’ market. Tomatoes and peaches are still in their prime but those crisp, light green apples and hearty winter squash are beginning to appear. With so many goodies at your disposal, you might find yourself bypassing the beets—but don’t. That would be a mistake.

Perhaps it’s inexperience or a bad first impression (put down the pickled beets!), but beets are easy to work with and exactly what you need to shake up your diet.

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10 Healthy Homemade Salad Dressings You Can Whip Up in No Time

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

As I began writing out recipes for some of my favorite homemade salad dressings, I kept futzing with their names; I realized they all included phrases like “guilt-free” or “low-cal,” which is completely redundant because every single one of the recipes below is not only delicious, but totally healthy and light on calories. That’s a pretty good problem to have, right?

For the creamy dressings, you’ll need a blender or food processor; just put the ingredients in, turn it on, and let it go for 10 seconds or so until well combined. Store in a jar in the fridge.

For the vinaigrettes, a blender is useful to emulsify but it’s not required: All you really need for these is a mason jar. Place all ingredients inside and shake away. The mixture can be kept (lid on) in your fridge until you’re ready to use it. It might need a refresher shake but you should be good to go.

The Basic Italian Vinaigrette is the one I use several times per week, as it’s simple and comes together in a flash, but with the variety below you’re sure to find your favorite.

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Make: Zucchini Stuffed with Chickpeas, Tomato and Feta

Photo by Becca Boyd

Photo by Becca Boyd

There are plenty of months in the year when the fresh-produce options in our region are underwhelming at best; summer isn’t one of them.

This time of year, farmers’ markets are teeming with delicious fruits and veggies, and sometimes the problem isn’t how to get more vegetables onto your plate, but what to do with the surplus of greens bursting out of your refrigerator.

This is where these stuffed zucchini come in mighty handy. Chock-full of seasonal veggies—yes, its veggies on veggies for the ultimate fridge dump—it’s a hearty, nutrient-packed dinner you can whip up in less than 30 minutes. Serve it with a side salad for even more green goodness. What could be better?

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Make: Toasted Pita and Tomato Salad with Chicken and Feta

Photograph by Becca Boyd

Photograph by Becca Boyd

I’m always on the look out for creative salad ideas because, in my opinion, there’s no tastier way to get your day’s requirement of veggies. I’ve eaten fattoush before, which is essentially the Lebanese cousin of the Italian panzanella. It’s a tomato and vegetable salad that contains a crunchy, bready ingredient.

Our featured recipe this week is a healthier play on fattoush; you get what you expect from the pita and feta cheese, but the mixed greens, light dressing and protein-packed chicken turns this salad into a healthy, happy and, most important, easy weeknight dinner. Enjoy!

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Make: 20-Minute Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Photo by Becca Boyd

Photo by Becca Boyd

Are you in a healthy dinner rut? I’m talking the same old dinner of grilled chicken breast, salad and brown rice night after night? If the answer is yes, it’s time for a change: These lettuce wraps are fun to eat, and they are just about as light as you can get when it comes to dinner. I often order lettuce wraps at restaurants when I’m looking for a light dinner option but truthfully, if you don’t make it yourself, you never really know how “light” a dish actually is. These wraps taste just as good as any restaurant’s version, but here, you control the oil, sugar, and ingredient list.

Plus, these wraps are snazzy enough for company and—I promise you on this one—they actually take just 20 minutes to put together.

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