From Classic to Nutritious: Transforming Recipes!

One of my favorite holiday dishes is my mom’s sweet potato pie, a side dish from deep in the South that is resplendent in butter and sugar. Yummy—but not healthy despite the main ingredient being a very nourishing sweet potato.  So I set out to create a version of the dish that was Alpha Gal friendly and with greatly reduced sugar. The final dish is every bit as wonderful—but now a guilt-free treat. This process can be applied to any of your favorite recipes, remember it’s ok to fail in the experiments —that’s how we learn!

Back to the recipe redo…. there were two main ingredients I was concerned about for health reasons: sugar and butter.

It is important to undertake this process in steps and understand a little about the “chemistry” of the dish:

The butter/fat adds to the flavor and makes the nutrients in the sweet potato more readily absorbed by the body—but 2 sticks for the size of the recipe is excessive.

Sugar isn’t just a sweetener but sometimes acts as a catalyst. For example when whipping cream—the addition of sugar helps the cream form better though less is needed than most people realize, so we cannot completely remove some ingredients without consequences to the final product! 

I experimented with reducing the butter first, could I cut the butter in half and still have a good version? The answer was yes—1 stick of butter tasted identical to 2 sticks in the final product. So then I halved that again—½ stick butter—and it was a little dry (not so yummy).  So I added some unsweetened apple sauce and that worked! Then I replaced the ½ stick of butter with an equal amount of coconut oil—success—no mammal and a nearly identical flavor. Next step, the sugar…

The original recipe used 2 C of sugar in total! I cut that in half…and it wasn’t noticeably less sweet, especially with the apple sauce. Next, I made it with even less (½ C) and it was a little flat compared to the original recipe. 

So what to do? 

I increased the cinnamon then added cardamom and clove to the mix and increased the applesauce and amount of sweet potato. The extra spices did the trick—the nature and flavor of the dish were preserved and the sugar was reduced by ¾! Now we can enjoy this dish without the sugar rush. I have also experimented with a monk fruit-based sweetener replacing the ½ C sugar making a dish that is safe in moderation even for those with diabetes! Don’t tell my mom but sprinkling some chopped nuts on top of this is a wonderful addition- pine nuts, macadamia nuts and walnuts all work beautifully with this recipe! And, nuts are good for your body and brain!

Here is my final "Healthy" version of Southern Sweet Potato Pie!

I hope this helps inspire you to take some of those family favorites and tinker with them to make them better for you. Pancakes, cookies, and pie crusts often lend themselves well to a gluten-free makeover and it’s worth the work to figure out which options work best. For example, I love shortbread and the gluten-free flour mix that rocks for pancakes but was a disaster for shortbread— but almond flour was even better than the original!

Cooking is a special kind of alchemy, one that transforms humble ingredients into nourishing and flavorful dishes. Food is the first medicine, but it doesn’t need to taste bad! If you need inspiration, check out our Facebook Group, Raja Wellness Ways to Health, and search #realfoodfast or browse the recipes on our website.

Yours in Wellness,


Breakfast. There’s more to choose from than cereal, pancakes or bacon and eggs—though it helps to explore some recipes that aren’t US staples. What’s your favorite “different” breakfast?

This dish—inspired by an eggplant shakshuka recipe (popular in North Africa and the Middle East) was heavily adapted. I had no eggplant to help give it texture and didn’t have time to simmer and brown the garlic and onions—so I swapped the eggplant for a quick cook quinoa with chickpeas and garlic seasoning, added in navy beans to make up for the additional chickpeas I was missing, and some canned roasted bell peppers to add in that sweet smoky flavor. 

Look at those beautiful, fragrant spices!

The seasoning I used is a Kabsa spice mix I picked up in Lexington at a Middle Eastern market—it has an amazing flavor—floral and spicy. I have a small mortar and pestle and the extra minute to grind these fragrant herbs is well worth it. The smell is divine!

Delicious-and quick!


¾ Tbsp Kabasa spice mix herbs (found at middle eastern markets)

1 can diced tomatoes

1 can navy beans

4 eggs

1 package Ancient Harvest Brand Quick-Cook Quinoa with chickpeas and garlic

To assemble: Grind Kabasa Spice Mix herbs—I used about 3/4 TBSP to grind. Add herbs, 1 can diced tomatoes and 1 can drained navy beans to non-stick skillet. Stir and remove 4 sous vide eggs from the fridge and crack into sauce (or once simmering add raw eggs and poach in juices of dish—takes a few minutes longer this way). While that’s all simmering, microwave the quinoa grains in the bag. When that is heated, add grains to the serving bowl, top with  shakshuka sauce and stir. As a final touch, place your egg(s) on top. Enjoy this warm savory dish that will keep your brain and body well fueled. 

For even more delicious recipes, check out our Facebook Group, Raja Wellness Ways to Health where we also share more tips and inspiration for healthy living!

I came across this idea online and decided to test it out - I love using silicone muffin tins for baking eggs and leftover veggies for a quick breakfast, but these looked nicely portable and easy to make for breakfast on the run. My initial idea to create a phyllo, pear and prosciutto tart today was derailed by the fact that I always forget phyllo needs a day in the fridge before I can hope to use it - and I was hungry now. So let the testing begin!

And - they are quite delicious - and dashed the dogs hopes for any leftovers!  I can easily see these being a regular menu item because they are:

  1. Easy to make
  2. Easy to change up for different moods
  3. Hands-off cooking
  4. Each person can have their own likes met

This is my favorite kind of recipe because “close counts” and substitutions have a high chance of being delicious. Just go with whatever you have in your fridge or pantry to shake flavors up; don’t worry about rules! The original recipes I saw all had the same elements: tortilla, muffin tin, eggs and fillings.


  • Tortillas
  • Muffin Tin
  • Eggs
  • Various Fillings

Basic Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375-400F. (slower and lower if you want more control over the doneness of your eggs)
  2. Cut small taco size tortillas into quarters: 2-3 of these triangles will make your cups depending on the size of your tortillas and your muffin tin.
  3. Grease the muffin tin: oil, butter, ghee - something. Layer in your tortilla wedges to make your cups. (You don’t have to make all 12)
  4. Add in your filling: I used diced canned mushrooms and a piece of prosciutto topped with a sprinkle of dehydrated greens and some mexican cheese, but I suspect salsa and sausage would be yummy too. Grilled onions and some artichoke heart bits, some bits of leftover baked potatoes and cheese would also be tasty. I’d say ⅓-½ of the cups should be filling. If you have small eggs (yay for bantam chickens!) you can have more stuffing without overflowing the cup with egg.
  5. Top with a whole egg - maybe a little seasoning (or more cheese), pop it in the oven and bake 12-15 min until the whites are solid and the yolk is done to your liking.
  6. Remove - let cool for a few minutes. Remove tortilla cups and serve or set aside to be grabbed by hungry family members on their way out the door. Bonus - they can eat it between the front door and the car in most cases, meaning no crumbs in the seat!

My first batch I cooked at 400 and while I wanted my yolks “a little more done” they very quickly went from “almost done” to “overdone”, so adjust accordingly. You could easily do these in a toaster oven and probably in an air fryer - but I don’t have one, so someone else will have to test that for us!

Remember the possibilities here are endless! These are also a great way to use up leftover veggies or beans, and you can make them frequently without being boring.

To start your day, I love this savory Congee. It’s packed with several powerhouse food herbs to nourish your body. Enjoy it plain, or with a cup of green tea as an easy way to start your day.


  • 1 cup short grain rice
  • 10 cups broth (or you can use
  • 10 cups water for making a breakfast congee)
  •  1 tsp neutral oil (like coconut)

FOR SAVORY CONGEE (Optional for serving)

  • 1 cup milk, either dairy or soy 
  • Thinly sliced green onions
  • Leftover shredded meat
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Julienned carrots
  • Soy sauce
  • Hot sauce
  • Toasted sesame oil


  1. In the bowl of a large slow-cooker, stir together 1 teaspoon of neutral oil and the short-grain rice until the rice grains are coated. Add the broth (or water) and stir to combine. Place the lid on the slow-cooker, turn heat to ‘LOW’ and allow to cook for 8 hours. Just prior to serving, bump the heat up to ‘HIGH’. If you’re using milk, stir it in now. Re-cover the slow-cooker and allow to cook for 30 minutes. Turn off the cooker, uncover and stir prior to serving.

  2. Options
    1. Drizzle with a little toasted sesame oil, top with sliced green onions, add a few drops of Sriracha and chop a hard-boiled egg. This may not cure the cold, but it sure makes you feel better.
    2. Add chicken, scallions and some diced veggies (before or after cooking) and serve…
    3. Add ground meat, egg yolk, some diced garlic and veggies

  3. Or to start your day, I love this sweet variation below called "8 Treasure Congee". It’s packed with several powerhouse food herbs to nourish your body. Enjoy with a cup of green tea as an easy way to start your day. I usually let this cook overnight and add a little milk of choice to replace part of the water.

In addition to your rice, add:

  • ¼ C pearl barley
  • 6-8 Chinese dates (aka hong zao or jujubes - if can’t get these you can use medjool dates)
  • 1 cinnamon stick or ground cinnamon to taste
  • 1” ginger root peeled and grated (can use powdered ginger as well)
  • 1 t cardamom
  • Gan cao (chinese licorice - about 6g)- this can be omitted if you can’t find it, star anise can be used if you like but it is an entirely different plant)
  • Goji Berries (¼ C)
  • Mulberries (¼ C)
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