Turkey Burgers with an Indian Flair

Let’s face it…turkey burgers get boring. But ground turkey is also an excellent source of lean protein. This causes a dilemma.

So I figured I’d get more creative with my turkey burgers. My recipes tend to be inspired by the foods I already have on hand; it’s rare for me to make a special trip to the store just for recipe ingredients. I’d rather go Chopped-style and scope out my fridge and pantry for foods that would pair well together.

I’m spontaneous like that. I’d say it works pretty well for me.

With lean ground turkey, Indian spices, green beans and canned pumpkin, I thought, “hmm, these could be really good together.”

Recipe: Indian Inspired Turkey Burgers

Enjoy these turkey burgers on a grilled portobello or over greens to cut down on carbs. Feel free to add hot sauce, chili paste or chili powder/flakes to kick the heat up a bit.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 can (8 oz) pureed pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup peas or finely chopped green beans
  • 1 Tbsp. Tandoori powder
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Form into patties and place on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the center of a burger reads 165 degrees.

Indian_Turkey_Burger

 

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Savory Greek Yogurt Series: Avocado Chili Lime

Yesterday I ate an entire avocado. For me, that’s pretty normal  — hell, there are days when I eat two avocados. And I felt fantastic! But apparently, some people are afraid of eating the whole avocado. The calories! The fat! The HORROR! Well, did you know an entire avocado only has 250 calories? Plus almost 20 nutrients including some of my favorites — mono- and polyunsaturated fats!

Think about a serving of peanut butter. 180-200 calories for two measly tablespoons (the size of a golf ball!). Hmm…an ENTIRE avocado for 250 calories or 2 tablespoons of PB for 200 calories? I’ll take the whole avocado, please (though that’s not to say I don’t like PB…I happen to be a PB fanatic).

Okay, so how did I manage to eat an entire avocado yesterday? Well it’s quite easy and it made my meals and snacks all-the-more satisfying. Had about 1/4 of an avocado with my kale omelet, had the other 1/4 on my seared tuna sandwich at dinner. And the other half? I made a super-easy, super-delicious savory Greek yogurt snack!

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Recipe: Avocado Chili Lime Greek Yogurt

Enjoy this recipe as a deliciously creamy, satisfying snack. I used a chili/paprika/citrus spice blend, but salt-free taco seasoning would work beautifully. Or just use straight up chili powder. You really can’t go wrong!

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup organic plain 2% Greek yogurt (you can also use non-fat or whole fat)
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder spice blend (or salt-free taco seasoning, or straight chili powder)
  • Tiny pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 ripe avocado, peeled and seeded

Directions:

Mix yogurt, lime juice and chili powder in a small bowl.

Add 1/2 avocado to bowl and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt.

avocado_chili_lime_Greek_yogurt

This would also be delicious with curry powder instead of chili powder!

 

Savory Greek Yogurt Series: Rosemary-Roasted Beets with Balsamic and Olive Oil

In case you’re unaware, I have an obsession with tzatziki sauce. And the main ingredient of tzatziki sauce? Greek yogurt. Yup, also obsessed. It’s super-versatile and I find that I can use it in both sweet and savory dishes, mix it into soups and sauces, turn it into a dip and use it in place of many higher-calorie, higher-fat ingredients (e.g. mayo, sour cream, cream cheese).

I’m especially fascinated with the idea of using Greek yogurt in a more savory way. So, after bringing home a mammoth container of plain, nonfat Greek yogurt from Costco, I decided it was time to make a series of savory Greek yogurt dishes (parfaits, if you will).

Recipe: Greek Yogurt with Rosemary-Roasted Beets and Balsamic

Beets with balsamic and rosemary lend an earthy flavor to this Greek yogurt “parfait.” If you have pistachios or pepitas on hand, they would also be excellent sprinkled on top. To save time, roast the beets ahead of time and enjoy throughout the week.

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Ingredients:

For roasted beets:

  • 1 beet, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp each, cracked black pepper and sea salt

For parfait:

  • 1 beet, roasted (ingredients above, roasting instructions below)
  • 1 cup plain, non-fat or low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp aged balsamic vinegar (Trader Joe’s Balsamic Glaze would also work nicely)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375. Peel and cut beet into wedges. (You can also make a batch of roasted beets ahead of time). Toss with olive oil and place on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with rosemary, salt and pepper and roast for about 45 minutes, or until beets are soft. Remove from oven and let cool.

For parfait, top Greek yogurt with roasted beets then drizzle with balsamic and olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and optional rosemary.

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Do you have any other suggestions for savory Greek yogurt dishes? Please share in the comments below!

 

Black Lentil Muffins – Made from Leftovers!

I have a confession to make: I love leftovers! Absolutely love them. First of all, they allow me to get creative in the kitchen, which — you guessed it — I love. More than that, though, it’s great to know that I’m using up all of my food because ain’t nobody got time for wasted food.

So when I recently made Chicken Cacciatore and had leftover black beluga lentils and the delicious tomato-y sauce that the chicken was cooked in, I figured — ‘hey, I can make something DELICIOUS with that!’ Combined with a recent discovery of lentil loaf (thanks to my friend/master chef Pam), lentil muffins seemed like a natural choice.

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Did I mention these are incredibly easy to make? And that you can cook up a whole batch and then freeze them for later use? Leftovers of leftovers? Getting crazy here!

Recipe: Italian Black Lentil Muffins

Black beluga lentils can be found at most grocery stores. They are full of protein and fiber as well as anthocyanins (powerful antioxidant compounds). Nutritional yeast lends a cheesy, savory flavor along with protein and B vitamins. Find it at Whole Foods or a health foods store.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked lentils (left over from the night before)
  • 1 cup tomato-based sauce (also leftover from the night before)*
    • If you don’t have leftover sauce, use either pre-made pasta sauce or whip up a quick batch: 1 can no salt added organic diced tomatoes, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 2 cloves garlic – minced, 1 tablespoon dried basil, 1 teaspoon black pepper)
  • 2 cups organic arugula
  • Approximately 8 Kalamata olives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons juice from jarred Kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 egg
  • pinch red pepper flakes (about 1/2 teaspoon or to taste)

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Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. In large bowl, mix all ingredients
  3. Coat muffin pan (for one dozen) with cooking spray. Evenly distribute lentil mixture throughout panImage
  4. Bake for 20-30 minutes (until top is crunchy)

*Please note that due to the use of leftover tomato sauce in which chicken was cooked, this recipe is NOT vegetarian. However, if you use pre-made pasta sauce or make your own, you can keep it vegetarian.

 

Enjoy warm or cold, over salad, with eggs or by themselves. These are delicious dipped in hummus as well!

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Mediterranean Snack: In-Shell Pistachios + Mandarin Orange + Chocolate Honey Mint Greek Yogurt

Perfect Pistachio Pairing: Mediterranean Style

pistachio_pairing

“I received free pistachio samples from the Pistachio Health Institute mentioned in this post. By posting this pairing for Mediterranean in-shell pistachios with mandarin orange and chocolate, honey mint Greek yogurt, I am entering a contest sponsored by Pistachio Health Institute and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”

In_Shell_Pistachios

Great news: this month, the Pistachio Health Institute tasked us Recipe ReDux bloggers with creating the perfect in-shell pistachio pairing. In other words, an equation for the ultimate snack. Being a lover of pistachios — buttery taste, good fats, vitamins and minerals, plus only 160 calories for 49 kernels (!) — I was thrilled to develop this tasty Mediterranean-style pistachio pairing:

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In-shell pistachios (one serving = about 49 pistachios…more than you get with most nuts)

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Mandarin orange (halo are my new favorite)

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Chocolate honey mint Greek yogurt parfait

Mediterranean_Snack

When snacking on pistachios, be sure to follow “Pistachio Principle:”

Crack ‘em, Chew ‘em, Love ‘em, Leave ‘em.

The leave ’em referring to the shells — empty pistachio shells may serve as a “visual cue” of how many pistachios you’ve consumed. In fact, study participants who left pistachio shells on their desk reduced their calorie consumption by 18 percent compared to participants who discarded shells immediately after consumption.*

How to make the parfait:

Layer low-fat or non-fat organic plain Greek yogurt with wild honey, shaved dark chocolate, and fresh mint chiffonade (fancy term for a food cut into ribbon-like pieces). You can also add orange zest to the parfait if you’re not planning to have the mandarin on the side.

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Greek_honey_mint_chocolate_parfait

I’m not ashamed to say this snack pairing idea was inspired by a cupcake. Not just any cupcake, however – Swirlz Greek Yogurt cupcakes. The flavor: Mediterranean Chocolate Orange Honey Pistachio. Check out the picture in the hyperlink. ‘Nuff said.**

*Painter, J. “The Effect of Pistachio Shells as a Visual Cue in Reducing Caloric Consumption.”  Appetite. 2011, 57(2):418-420.

**Disclosure: I helped develop this line of Greek yogurt cupcakes for Swirlz and they are one of my clients. I was not compensated for including them in this post.

PB2 versus Cheesecake Factory’s Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple

This is the first of many “what to eat” versus “what not to eat” posts, wherein I will highlight one great supermarket/food find along with a supermarket/restaurant find that you should never, EVER eat. The old adage, “everything in moderation,” is stupid, if you ask me. Certain foods, many of which I will highlight in the weeks to come, should never be eaten. In general, the “what not to eat” foods are overly processed, loaded with sugar, fat, salt, calories and/or artificial ingredients.

This week I get peanut buttery, with Bell Plantation’s amazing PB2 and Cheesecake Factory’s disgusting Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake.

WHAT TO EAT: PB2 POWDERED PEANUT BUTTER

First off, there is absolutely nothing wrong with regular, natural peanut butter (AKA the one you have to stir). It contains monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which promote heart health, can decrease inflammation and promote satiety. The problem with peanut butter lies in your serving size. If you’re like me, you could attack the peanut butter jar with reckless abandon, creamy spoonful after creamy spoonful. And suddenly, you realize realistically consumed 600+ calories. Oops! What PB2 has done is created an almost fat-free version of peanut butter by pressing peanuts to remove their oil. What that means for you and your waistline is that PB2 has 85% less calories than regular peanut butter, but is still natural. They use a chemical-free process to press the peanuts, and then they sell the leftover peanut oil! Perfect! When mixed with just water, it yields a perfectly creamy, delicious peanut butter that you can spread on toast, dip fruit into or my personal favorite – eat it plain.

The ingredient list and nutrition information, according to the Bell Plantation’s website (with regular peanut butter nutritional comparison in parentheses/blue) is as follows:

Ingredients: Roasted peanuts, sugar, and salt

Nutrition Information (for 2 Tablespoons): 45 calories (180-200 calories), 1.5 grams fat (16 grams), 5 grams carbohydrates (roughly same) and 5 grams protein (7 grams).

What it looks like in powdered form:

PB2_Powdered_Peanut_Butter

 

And mixed (see how creamy it is??):

PB2_Mixed

 

 

WHAT NOT TO EAT: CHEESECAKE FACTORY’S ADAM’S PEANUT BUTTER CUP FUDGE RIPPLE CHEESECAKE

“Creamy Cheesecake Swirled with Caramel, Peanut Butter, Butterfingers® and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups®,” reads the description on thecheesecakefactory.com. Don’t forget it’s topped with some kind of peanut butter-butter-sugar combination (a giant dollop of the stuff). I’d tell you the ingredients of the cheesecake, but Cheesecake Factory doesn’t disclose those things. They also don’t list any of their nutritional information, except for that of their ridiculously-named “Skinnylicious” menu (note to Cheesecake Factory: NO ONE wants to order something with “skinnylicious” in the name; whether you are skinny or not-so-skinny, it’s embarrassing). After searching through various nutrition databases, I found a general consensus for nutrition information of this cheesecake. The calories, at 1330 per slice, amount to more than three McDonald’s double cheeseburgers. The saturated fat? It’s equivalent to 35 slices of bacon (40 grams)! Mmm, there’s nothing like the idea of clogged arteries to make me crave some cheesecake. The carbohydrates ring in just under 140 grams, which is the same as 3/4 cup sugar. Yikes! Heaven forbid you already downed 3,120 calories from the Cheesecake Factory’s healthy-sounding Bistro Shrimp Pasta and you’ve now consumed about three days worth of calories (if you’re a woman). Congratulations! Everything is okay in moderation, though, right? Not when it involves most foods from Cheesecake Factory.

 

 

Cranberries, Sans the Sugar

Cranberries, that beautiful reddish-pink fruit that packs quite the punch of tartness, isn’t just for Thanksgiving. While most of us think of cranberry sauce with our turkey (and for me, with my sweet potatoes, salad, stuffing and basically every other dish at Thanksgiving – I really love cranberries), there is so much more to this fruit!

 

cranberries

A good source of vitamin C and fiber, cranberries will fill you up and provide antioxidants for very few calories. Plus, compared to other fruit, cranberries are quite lo-cal (25 calories per 1/2 cup fresh cranberries). Their tartness makes a great addition to salads, chicken and fish dishes and really anything that needs a little hint of sour.

My one issue with cranberries is that whenever you buy them dried at the store, they inevitably have sugar added to them to mask some of their tartness. Why do they need to sweeten them?!?! ARGH.

I decided that I would beat the system by drying them myself – sans sugar. I looked up recipes which mostly called for sugar or other sweetener. Argh again – no added sweetener, please! I would have to take matters into my own hands. I must say, though I wish everything I attempted in the kitchen came out perfectly in little to no time, this is not always the case. Enter, cranberries. While I did end up with pretty delicious (and still tart thanks to no sugar) dried cranberries, the process took me several days. In theory, it should take 6-10 hours to make dried cranberries (not three days as was the case for me). My issue was that I was never home/awake for that long of a span of time to keep the oven on. So I kept turning it on for a couple hours, then turning it off and letting the cranberries sit in the oven, then repeating this process. Assuming you have a day that you will be home or you can take shifts with your family/housemates, making your own dried cranberries is completely feasible. Here is how it’s [supposed to be] done:

Dried Cranberries:

Drop fresh cranberries into a pot of boiling water for several minutes, until the skin pops. Drain the cranberries in a colander and pat dry. Place on parchment paper and paper towels in an over at its lowest setting (mine was 170 degrees). Let them chill in the low-heat oven for 6-10 hours until they’ve reached the desired dryness.

I sprinkled mine with cinnamon to make them a little more festive and used them in oatmeal, in salads, with quinoa and veggies, on my green bean leftovers from Thanksgiving, and the list goes on.

Here are some other ideas and recipes for cranberries:

Fresh Cranberry Relish (uses only 1 tsp sugar plus lots of yummy fruit): enjoy this over chicken, whole grains or with pork tenderloin.

Cranberry, Almond and Cinnamon Tart from Martha Stewart. Definitely a treat – not an everyday thing – but damn, that looks delicious.

Cranberry-Avocado Salsa

Chicken with Cranberry Sauce

What’s your favorite way to enjoy cranberries?

Farmers Market WTF Part 5 – Groundcherries (Cape Gooseberries)

Here’s some advice for you all: when you are offered fresh produce at the market to sample, you accept.

Groundcherries

All wrapped up

This is how I serendipitously fell in love with groundcherries. Thanks also to the amazingly helpful and friendly staff at the Green Acres Farm’s stand (Green City Market).

Part of the nightshade family (made up of around 2000 different species – from potatoes to tomatoes and tomatillos to eggplant), groundcherries have a husk like a tomatillo but are tiny little things. When you open them up (they’re like mini presents!), there is a small, tomato-looking fruit inside. It tastes like a combination of pineapple and tomato…in a good way. Somewhat tart but with a nice pineapple-y sweetness.

Groundcherries have a nutrient profile that resembles tomatoes. They are high in vitamins A and C like tomatoes (for a 1 cup serving), but they also contain about 3 grams of protein, which is a rarity with fruit. A one-cup serving contains roughly 75 calories. Not bad for the flavor punch, vitamins and minerals that you get.

Let’s also not forget how fun it is to peel back the husk and pop the thing in your mouth!

Groundcherry

So what to do with groundcherries??

  • Salsa: mix unwrapped/halved groundcherries, diced cucumber, tomato and pepper and toss with about 1 Tbsp vinegar of your choice (champagne or red wine would be good). You can add a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon and lime juice to perk it up a little.
  • In salads: just made a salad with kale, groundcherries, tomatoes, a little mozzarella cheese and a balsamic vinaigrette – yum! The groundcherries really make a salad.
  • In cereal – sprinkle over your morning cereal or even oatmeal.
  • Cold grain salad: mix 1/2 cup halved groundcherries with 1 cup cooked quinoa, brown rice or other whole grain, 1 Tbsp champagne vinegar, 1 Tbsp orange juice and about 2 Tbsp each of dried fruit (currants would be good!) and chopped walnuts.
  • As a snack.

One added bonus to groundcherries: they force you to eat slowwllly because you have to peel each one. It not only makes you enjoy the fruit more, but also is a fun little activity.