Orange Pistachio Cinnamon Rolls

While this recipe may not seem “healthbyhayl approved,” I’m making an exception because these babies are DELICIOUS and life is all about balance. These sweet rolls are filled with warm cinnamon, brown sugar and butta so they are sure to please your sweet tooth (and they’re made with whole wheat flour so they’re kinda healthyish).

If you aren’t a fan of the orange glaze or pistachios, feel free to add whatever flavor combo you like! Go classic or add almonds, lemon zest, and even raisins.

Here’s what I did:

Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

Yield: about 12-14 rolls


For the dough:

3/4 cup milk (heated to 110-115 degrees F)

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (or one packet)

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/4 butter, melted

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt


For the filling:

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup pistachios, chopped


For the icing:

1 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon orange zest

2 Tablespoons orange juice



  1. Add the warm milk to the bowl of an electric mixer and sprinkle the yeast over the top.
  2. Let sit for 5 minutes or until yeast is foamy.
  3. Add in sugar, eggs, and butter, mixing to combine.
  4. Next, stir in flours and salt, mixing on low until a dough begins to form.
  5. Knead dough with dough hook attachment for 8-10 minutes or until the ball of dough comes away from the bowl.
  6. Cover the dough and let it rise for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.
  7. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and roll into a large rectangle.
  8. In a small bowl, mix the filling ingredients until well combined.
  9. Spread the mixture evenly over the dough.
  10. Tightly roll the dough up until a long log forms.
  11. Cut into 1 inch pieces and place into a sprayed pie dish. Cover these babies in a towel and let them rise for 30 minutes.
  12. Bake at 350 F for 25-30 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden.
  13. To make the frosting: mix all ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. If too thick, add more orange juice and if too thin, add more powdered sugar.
  14. Pour the glaze over the buns and top with extra chopped pistachios!

Apple Nachos

Yield: 1 serving


1 apple, cored and thinly sliced (any kind you like!)

2 Tablespoons peanut butter (you can also use almond butter or cashew butter)

1 Tablespoon dark chocolate chips

2 Tablespoons granola

Additional add-ons: 1 Tablespoon coconut flakes (unsweetened), 1 Tablespoon of your favorite chopped nuts, 1 Tablespoon cacao nibs



  1. Evenly place apple slices in one layer on serving plate.
  2. Drizzle nut butter over the slices and add other toppings!
  3. Don’t be afraid to get messy 🙂

Mom’s Meatballs

If you know me personally then odds are you’ve been coerced into trying my mom’s meatballs at least once. This recipe holds a special place in my heart because of the tradition it holds and the memories it carries. When I was first *attempting* to learn how to cook, this recipe was the perfect place to begin because it is practically fool-proof. An extra sprinkle of Parmesan or additional raisins just make this recipe even more unique.

With this recipe I hope to inspire some quality time in the kitchen between you & some loved ones. Let the kids get messy (because these are best when mixed by hand) and don’t stress about making them perfect, that is the tradition after all!

Photo credit: Morgan Mielnicki, my wonderful older sis who took over camera duty for the day!


1 1/2 pounds ground beef, 85% lean

1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs

1 egg

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

2 garlic cloves, minced (or 2 Tablespoons prepared garlic)

1 Tablespoon parsley, dried or fresh, minced

1/2 cup raisins



  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a baking sheet and set aside.
  2. Mix all ingredients together (with your hands!!!), don’t over mix! And form golf ball-sized balls.
  3. Place meatballs on baking sheet 2 inches apart.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes. Flip meatballs and lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake another 20-30 minutes, or until browned and cooked through. 

Serve with your favorite sauce and pasta!

Cranberry Sauce

A little late for Thanksgiving dinner, but cranberry sauce can be the perfect addition to your Christmas buffet. Using whole, fresh cranberries instead of canned adds extra fiber and decreases those added sugars (so you can enjoy even more!).

Cranberries are a natural anti-inflammatory, and saturated with Vitamin C, A & K. These underrated lil guys can be incorporated into stuffing, added to apple sauce for a nice twist, or just scooped over your favorite protein!

*For a less bitter sauce, add 1/3 cup honey*

Yield: ~ 1 1/2 cups


1 bag fresh or frozen cranberries (no cans here)

1/4 cup honey

1 cup water (or you could do apple cider for something extra yummy!)

zest + juice of 2 oranges (about 1/4-1/2 cup)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Sprinkle of salt

Optional: Sprinkle of nutmeg



  1. Place all ingredients in a small sauce pan and stir to combine.
  2. Cook on medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Sauce is done when cranberries have popped and water is dissolved!



Barley Salad Stuffed Squash

Yield: 4 servings (1/2 a squash each)


2 acorn squash, halved and seeds removed (or the globe of a butternut squash)

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1/3 cup celery, diced

1/3 cup carrots, diced

1/2 cup apple, diced (skin on- for extra fiber)

1/2 an onion, diced

1 1/2 cups barley (cooked according to package instructions)

1 Tablespoon maple syrup

1/2 Tablespoon mustard

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds

Sprinkle of salt & pepper

Optional: top with 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese before serving



  1. Roast the squash halves at 375 for 45 minutes with a brush of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
  2. In a saute pan, add the olive oil, celery, carrots, apples and onions and saute on medium heat for 10 minutes or until veggies are softened.
  3. Once vegetables are ready, add the barley and stir until well combined.
  4. Stir in the maple syrup, mustard, cranberries, sunflower seeds, salt & pepper. Mix to combine.
  5. Once squash is out of the oven, scoop in barley mixture and serve! Optional: crumble 1/2 Tablespoon goat cheese over each serving.

Maple Bacon Brussel Sprouts

Stuck on what dish to bring to your Thanksgiving table? These maple bacon roasted brussel sprouts are sure to save the day. With only five ingredients, this quick and easy side dish will have your relatives begging for more!

Here’s how they’re done:


1 pound brussel sprouts, halved

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

1/4 pound (1/4 package) bacon, cut into small chunks

1/2 teaspoon salt



  1. Evenly spread the brussel sprouts onto a baking sheet.
  2. Drizzle with olive oil and maple syrup. Toss to coat the brussel sprouts.
  3. Sprinkle on bacon and salt.
  4. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until bacon is crispy and brussel sprouts are browned.


Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheese

A lighter way around everyone’s favorite comfort food, plus my recipe creates the perfect opportunity to sneak in veggies without anyone knowing!

Yield: 2-3 servings


1/2 box of elbow pasta (I used Banza chickpea pasta, but any kind will do)

2-3 Tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 Tablespoons whole-wheat flour (or AP)

3/4 cup butternut squash puree (Roast butternut squash cubes with olive oil at 350 until tender. Blend or mash until smooth) – acorn, buttercup or even pumpkin work as well.

1 cup almond milk (or any other milk you use)

2 Tablespoons goat cheese crumbled

1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1/4 teaspoon each: salt, pepper, garlic powder, ground mustard (or a squirt of yellow mustard), paprika

2 Tablespoons breadcrumbs (or more because this is the best part)


  1. Boil pasta according to package instructions and set aside.
  2. In a small sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk until incorporated.
  3. Cook on low heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Add in the butternut squash and almond milk, stirring until the mixture is smooth.
  5. Cook on low heat for 2 minutes then add in the cheeses and seasonings, mix to incorporate.
  6. Continue to cook on low heat for 3-4 minutes until cheese has melted. Add in the pasta and stir until noodles are fully coated.
  7. Spray two small ramekins (or a small baking dish) with non-stick cooking spray.
  8. Pour the mac mixture into the pan and sprinkle on breadcrumbs.
  9. Broil for 2-3 minutes or until breadcrumbs are browned and cheese is bubbly.