Sugar Free Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

Sugar Free Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

My sugar free column in the IHPA (Virginia Commonwealth University Inter Health Professional Alliance) Newsletter for November 2017:

IHPA Nov 2017 Newsletter

*Original article wording (newsletter has edited – for space – version and recipe):

Sugar Free Holidays?!?! Are You Serious?!?!

It is a week before Thanksgiving and I am on a drastic liquid only diet. Call me crazy, but I know I have to get a jump start on my diet before I go overboard during the holidays.  Thanksgiving is a time for family, counting your blessings … and eating way too much food!  So how do we have self-control and still celebrate?  I want to give you a couple tips on how to get through Thanksgiving without increasing your blood sugar, over-eating, and having to buy new pants because you ate too much:

  1. Eat a good breakfast with protein.
  • My family doesn’t eat until 1pm so I am really hungry when we finally sit down causing me to pile up my plate. If you eat breakfast then you won’t be starving later in the day.
  1. Don’t fix so much food.
  • Do you need 12 types of meat, 5 types of potatoes, and 72 types of vegetables? Limiting your menu will help with less temptation to over-eat, less dishes to clean, and less food that gets wasted.
  1. Stay away from bread.
  • Stuffing is a big deal for most families at Thanksgiving, but my family makes like 4 different kinds and then bakes rolls on top of that. The less bread you have, the less you will eat.
  1. Don’t “taste test” everything.
  • Of course you want to test the mashed potatoes to make sure there is enough salt in them… but that doesn’t mean you have to test it 4 times.
  1. Drink water.
  • You will already be getting enough calories and sugar that day, so sticking with water helps you stay full and healthy.
  1. Put half the amount of each food on your plate … or use a smaller plate.
  • You can always go back for seconds if you are still hungry. I feel like if I put it on my plate I have to eat it, so if it isn’t on my plate I won’t feel like I have to stuff myself.
  1. You don’t have to try everything.
  • Grandma Gertrude and Aunt Agnes won’t actually disown you if you don’t try their dish. You are an adult and can make decisions for your health.
  1. Only have one type of dessert or try sugar free options.
  • I know it may seem like blasphemy to ask you to not have pumpkin pie AND sweet potato casserole … but your body will thank you later!

I have already limited my menu for this year, and have substituted some desserts for sugar free options. Hopefully the recipe below will satisfy your traditional tastes with a little change toward the healthy side!  Have a great Thanksgiving and know that I am thankful for you.

For more tips visit Melissa’s website where you can read her blogs and connect with her social media accounts:


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Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou My Vision

“Be Thou My Vision” has been in my head for the last few weeks, and I didn’t know why. Today I decided to look up the words (because I did not know them all). In looking at just the first line of each verse and thinking of a few of my interactions lately, it really puts the last month in perspective:

  1. “Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart”: God should be what we look to, and if He is the Lord (that would make Him the master and us the servant) of our heart then what He wants is what we should do. He should be the driving factor of everything we do or don’t do … so we can bring Him glory. When we get up for church even when we don’t feel like it (self-control), when we tithe even though we don’t know where the bill money will come from (faithfulness), when we give to those less fortunate (goodness), when we look people in the eye while talking to them (kindness), when we don’t give into anger (patience), when we don’t listen to our doubt and anxiety (peace), when we listen to someone who is hurting (gentleness), when we are thankful in spite of our circumstances (joy), and when we show the light and compassion of Jesus to others even when we don’t agree with what they are doing (love). (Fruits of the Spirit – Galatians 5:22-23) All of the things that God is whispering to our hearts should give us the picture of who we are suppose to become.
  2. “Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word”: God should be the final authority (truth) in our lives, as well as the standard for what we base our actions. There have been a few times this month where I felt under attack for what I believe or for the work that I was trying to do for God. Normally I would have responded with a list of reasons about how I was justified in my actions and the reasoning behind my motives (I mean really how is giving per-natal vitamins to a pregnancy center “not a worthy cause”), but then I remembered that people that don’t know the light of Jesus are blinded in their ignorance and sin. The devil was using them (and their whistle-blowing tactics) to try to steal my joy, make me feel foolish and be afraid to do the work of God, and pull me down in cowardliness by not standing firm in what I believe to be true. I guess the older I get, the more I realize that I need to let the Word of God speak while I remain silent. Sometimes you simply need to keep your nose down and keep pressing through. And all the horrible things I thought might happen – didn’t! If I had been antagonistic, the situation might have escalated and I may have had to stand up and fight. When I “killed” my pride, the situation died with it.
  3. “Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight”: Sometimes we are called to stand up and fight. I had this happen a couple weeks ago. I headed into a situation that had been escalating and really needed to be handled and fought for, but I didn’t use all the right armor. My righteous anger was justified, but I took the wrong sword. The outcome may have been what it needed to be, but a couple of my tactics could have been more lovely. I went off on someone. Did they need to hear what I had to say and some threats in this life or death situation? YES! But could I have used a little more compassion and a little less ugly words? YES! When I went in with guns blazing, I thought God was my battle shield, but I forgot to use it to protect me from myself. I didn’t fight fair, and even though I thought I was “driving the money changers out of the temple”, I will always live with the regret that I let my love of good get twisted momentarily by the devil into something that sought to wound another.
  4. “Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise”: Everyone likes to know they are doing a good job, but is that our motive? Last week was my busiest of the year for my job. We had our annual symposium and I worked ALOT! After working all year for this day, and then running around like a crazy person all week, we finally got to the start of the event. In the announcements my boss recognized me for my work and said that I should be commended even though I am shy and wouldn’t want the praise. I don’t think he knows me very well to say I am shy (LOL), I felt like I was just doing my job (and who doesn’t like overtime pay), and while I did appreciate his thoughtfulness – being honored for putting on an event was not my greatest accomplishment of the day. Everyone clapping and telling me the that the event was great just kind of got shrugged off, but I almost cried when I was taking care of an older lady at the conference and she said “Melissa, you are such a good person and take care of everyone.”. That is what I want to be remembered for – the light of Jesus showing through in my actions and service to others. I want people to look at me and say “There is something different about her and I want it – she is good”.
  5. “High King of Heaven, my victory won”: Heaven should be our ultimate goal and our ultimate joy. No matter what happens in the day to day, we need to realize that there is something much better coming. This life is simply a dress rehearsal for eternity. It is hard looking at everyone and feeling unconditional love all the time … but once we get to heaven and God gives us our new bodies I am assuming He will also equip us with “Jesus eyes” so we can see others how He sees them. (So here is praying that my new body is a little thinner or that everyone’s “Jesus eyes” do the opposite effect as the camera and take 10 pounds OFF!) Our lasting victory is not in our heart being pure, our words being lovely, our fights being fair, or our heads not getting to big … but the fact that Jesus’ blood washed away all of our impurities in spite of our screw-ups! Yes we should try to emulate the words of this hymn, but the author also knew that we would one day be made perfect when we are transformed by the holy light of Jesus as we enter His kingdom.

So the next time someone tells you hymns are outdated … remember “Be Thou My Vision”. Remember the strength and hope it gives, as well as the instructions to put you on the right path. Here’s to humming your way into a more victorious day serving the High King of Heaven!


Be Thou My Vision: