Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Burger to Gobble Up!

Every time I read those articles that list the Worst things to order in a chain restaurants, it makes my skin crawl a little.  It makes me wonder first of all what on earth am I eating?  And secondly, why?  Why are some of these restaurant meals so horrible?  Why are they trying to kill us?  I mean, we know that perfectly delicious food can be made at home with a lot less impact on our health.  I don't know, but it freaks me out a little.  The other night I made my favorite burger for dinner which happens to be a turkey burger.  I can't do chicken for some reason but this turkey burger is delish and easy and everyone loves them.  My burger (without the bun) comes in at 230 calories, 260 with cheese.  A cheeseburger (beef) at Applebee's, with the bun has 850!  5 Guys does not have a single burger for under 480 and that's the "little hamburger" without cheese.  You've got to have cheese! Red Robin has a turkey burger that I'll bet is not as good as mine by the way, that comes in at 493 calories with nothing on it.  And hopefully you've all sworn off that creepy McDonald's place but I can't help but mention that super lame quarter pounder with cheese has 520 calories.  So now I with arm you with a fantastic burger recipe with no questionable ingredients that you can make at home. (Trust me, the fat and sodium stats are even more impressive but I don't want to lose you before we get to the good stuff.)
We always buy the Jenny-O ground turkey because it comes with 20oz as opposed to the usual 16oz.  We like a nice meaty burger.  To the meat you'll add a little Dijon mustard, an egg white and a teaspoon of cornstarch to hold it together.
Shred up a small carrot, about 1/4 cup.
Fresh herbs are always a plus.  Here's a little parsley and a little basil (any combo you like is fine).
Chop enough to make about 1 tablespoon.
Toss it in the bowl with 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp onion powder and black pepper to taste.
Mix well...
and form into 4 burger patties.
Spray your pan with a little non stick cooking spray and fry flipping once until cooked through,  adding cheese at the end until melted.
Place on a toasted bun with toppings of choice.  I had mine with spinach, tomato and dill pickle.
This very satisfying burger was served with a quinoa salad (that I want to make a few changes to before sharing) but sweet potato fries are always a great side too!

My Best Burger

20oz lean ground turkey
1 egg white (large egg)
1 tsp Dijon
1 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup shredded carrot
1 Tbs chopped fresh herbs
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp salt
black pepper to taste

Mix ground turkey with all ingredients and form into 4 patties.  You may want to make ahead and let them sit in the refrigerator for 30 min to firm up.  Spray a pan with cooking spray and cook over medium heat flipping once after first side is browned, until cooked through.  Add cheese if desired until melted.  Serve with or without a bun and toppings of your choice. Enjoy!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Healthy Chicken in a Curry

How many of you are struggling to stick with New Years Resolutions already?  We're only two weeks in so hopefully you're hanging in there.  I just joined a new gym before Christmas because they have some classes that I really love.  So far I've taken Pilates, Cardio-Kickboxing, R.I.P.P.E.D. and Boot Camp.  Every single class is as full as can be.  I'm curious to see if the attendance drops off in a month or so.  That seems to be the trend with a new year at the gym.  Everyone is gung ho, then things slowly fizzle out.  If you've done this in the past, try to pace yourself.  Don't expect to go from nothing to 5-6 days a week and think you won't get burned out and quit all together.  Build your activity level gradually and instead of doing nothing by March you'll be doing more.  The same is true with your diet.  Forget "going on a diet".  The idea is to change your diet, and if you do this gradually, you again, will be more successful in sticking with it.  Super Bowl Sunday is coming up in a few weeks.  If you're like me, you look forward to the food more than the game (I really couldn't care less about the game).  I have a really tasty chicken dish to share if you're entertaining for the game (or any other time for that matter).  This healthy little number is called Curried Chicken and Vegetable Pan Roast from the Food & Wine website (which I just love).  Here's how it goes:
Don't be afraid of brussels sprouts! These are my new favorite vegetable and I've only liked them since Thanksgiving (just this past one!).  Roasted until nice and brown, they are fantastic.
You'll need to halve 1 1/2 lbs of them.  A perfect job for a little helper if you have one.
You will also need to peel and dice 2 lbs of butternut squash.  Already you can tell how healthy this is, just look at those fantastic colors!
You will also need to cut 2 red onions (I used one large one) into thin wedges.
Toss your veggies in a large bowl with some oil, salt and pepper.
Spread them out over two rimmed baking sheets.
In the same bowl you mix oil, fat-free Greek yogurt, ginger, garlic, curry powder and season with salt and pepper.
Toss the chicken thighs in and stir until well coated.
Lay the chicken over the veggies and roast in a 450 preheated oven.
The recipe suggests serving with warm naan.  We used the bread machine and made some pita instead.
About 40 min in, you'll pull the pans from the oven and pour off any accumulated juices.  Pop them back in for about 20 min more, until chicken is browned and veggies are tender.
Oh my, now how good does this look!  This is enough to feed 12 so its perfect for when you have company, or you can just have leftovers on hand for weekday lunches.  These chicken pieces make a great sandwich the next day.
Serve with Greek yogurt or sour cream.  I think next time I'll make some little yogurt sauce of some kind.  That's it! Minimal work, really tasty meal and healthy to boot!

Curried Chicken and Vegetable Pan Roast (

2 lbs butternut squash, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 large red onions, cut into thin wedges
1 1/2 lbs brussels sprouts, halved
1 cup canola oil
salt and pepper
1 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt, plus more for serving
2 Tbs minced fresh ginger
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs Madras curry powder (I think regular curry will work fine)
4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
warm naan or pita for serving

Preheat oven to 450 and position racks in the upper and middle thirds.  In a large bowl, toss squash, brussels sprouts, onion wedges and 1/2 cup of the canola oil; season with salt and pepper.  Spread veggies on to two large, rimmed baking sheets.

In the same bowl, combine the cup of yogurt with the ginger, garlic, curry powder and the remaining 1/2 cup of oil and season with salt and pepper.  Add the chicken and toss until thoroughly coated.  Arrange chicken on top of the vegetables and roast for 40 min rotating the pans half way through until veggies are nearly tender and chicken is nearly cooked through.  Pour off any liquid and continue to roast about 20 min longer until chicken is browned and veggies are tender.  Transfer to a platter and serve with warm naan and yogurt.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Too Cool For School

I don't know about you, but I could safely say that I could live out the rest of my days never coming in contact with another Sloppy Joe and be just fine with that.  Phoebe on the other hand, does not share this sentiment.  I think she had one once at school a few years ago and oddly enough remembers it fondly.  Since I can't get past the picture on the Sloppy Joe can in the grocery store, I usually have a ready excuse as to why we shouldn't have them for dinner.  That it is, until I found a recipe for Lentil Sloppy Joes in my December issue of Food Network Magazine.  Again, I'm not a fan of the concept in general but Phoebe was perfectly satisfied with this much healthier version and stated happily that she would eat these again (if given the opportunity).  I thought I would share as many of you may have children who have developed a love of the Sloppy Joe through the fabulous school lunch system (how ever that happens...).
While there is some ground beef in this recipe, there are also plenty of vegetables.  First you cook up some onion, red bell pepper and carrot along with a couple of tablespoons of ketchup (I don't think you can escape ketchup if you're making Sloppy Joes). 
Next you add some garlic and lentils and four cups of water (gotta cook those beans!).
These are going to need about 35-40 min.  This is easy but not necessarily quick.
While the beans are cooking you brown 8oz of ground beef.  Just enough to add the meaty texture your Sloppy Joe begs for.  Once your meat is brown, you add some Worcestershire sauce, a little more ketchup, the lentil mixture and a little more water.  Cook for a few minuets to thicken and Wa-La!
Serve it on a toasted roll with a little cheddar and a pickle slice.  We had ours with sweet potato fries.  A much healthier version of a lunchroom classic, and my kids found it to be a perfectly suitable substitute.

Lentil Sloppy Joes (Food Network Magazine)

2 Tbs vegetable oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1/2 bell pepper (red or green), finely chopped
1/2 cup ketchup
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup dried brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
1/4 tsp oregano
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
8 ounces ground beef
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
6 whole-wheat burger buns, toasted
6 slices cheddar cheese
sliced pickles, jalapeno or banana peppers for topping

Heat 1 Tbs vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion, carrot, bell pepper and 2 Tbs ketchup and cook, stirring occasionally, until veggies are slightly soft, about 3 min.  Add garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds.  Add the lentils, oregano and 4 cups of water; bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer until lentils are tender and water is absorbed, 35-40 min (add up to 1 more cup if necessary).  Season with salt and pepper.

Heat remaining 1 Tbs oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the beef and cook, breaking it up until it begins to brown, about 2 min.  Add Worcestershire sauce and the remaining 6 Tbs ketchup and cook, stirring, until well combined.  Add lentil mixture and 1 cup of water and cook, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft and mixture thickens, about 8 min.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve on buns with cheddar and pickles.