Tag Archives: Low-fat

Turkey Burger and Sweet Potato Fries


I know that there is no way to have a post today that is anywhere near as pretty or as exciting as Saturday’s Orange Tian from The Daring Baker’s Challenge, so I will not even try!

I will, however, make many friends and neighbors (and hopefully others!) happy by posting an incredibly delicious recipe for something simple and healthy that can be whipped up in almost no time for dinner!

I will tell you (and you certainly may already know this)…I am not a turkey burger girl! Where’s the beef? That’s what I want to know! I think ground turkey is a total bore (even in chili). I have tried and tried to make it tasty, but I am always less than impressed. My take on food is, if it’s not worth the calories, then I am not eating it! That is generally how I feel about the gobbler burger!

I decided to take a peek on line (because I know there are so many wonderful cooks out there that post recipes), to see if I had missed something. I did find a recipe from The Neelys (Food Network) that uses Pepper Jack Cheese in the middle of the turkey burgers. Maybe now we were talking!

I know that they used some onion and garlic in the ground turkey, so I did that. Then I added some of our leftover Country Bob’s Regular All Purpose Sauce. I knew I wanted to try it in ground meat and I will tell you…it was the absolute best turkey burger I have ever had. It was moist and delicious. I must admit, that sauce is really yummy and I am so excited that I was sent a few bottles to test it out!

If you do not have or cannot find the sauce, you should try a barbecue sauce that you like (with some hot and sweet) or A-1 sauce and add some heat (maybe a pinch of red pepper flakes). The incredible flavors were achieved with the addition of that one ingredient. It also created the moistness in the burger. Be sure to cook these burgers inside and not on the grill. They will stay together better if they are sautéed in a pan. They will also be juicier. (I highlighted this because I have had some readers ask about cooking the burgers on an outdoor grill. I advise that you cook them inside in a pan. They will not be moist and sometimes fall apart when cooked outdoors. They are sooo much better when browned in a little olive oil!).)

In addition to the burger, I oven roasted some sweet potato fries. Oh, my gosh! I sprinkled them with Za’atar, which is Middle Eastern spice that is normally used to top pita bread (or it can be used in various dishes). Forget the pita and top these fries! This was such an incredible, simple dinner! It was low-fat and healthy. I even used 80 calorie whole wheat buns from Sara Lee. Shocking, I know!

Turkey Burgers
Makes 3

20 oz. ground turkey (white and dark meat)
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste (a bit more than a pinch!)
1/4 cup Country Bob’s Regular All Purpose Sauce (substitute your favorite barbecue sauce or A-1)
Slices of Pepper Jack Cheese
Additional sauce, warmed to top cooked burger
Olive oil

Mix first 5 ingredients together in a large bowl. Shape ground turkey into 6 thin patties. Fold cheese slices into small squares (I used 1/2 slice per burger) or cut slices from a block of cheese. Place in the middle of the burgers. Top with another patty. Be sure there is enough room all around the sides to seal the burger well (you do not want all the tasty cheese oozing out while it cooks!). Repeat this 2 more times to make 3 burgers.

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat (preferably a griddle pan, if you have one). Brown burgers on one side (about 5 minutes). Flip the burgers and brown on the other side (another 4-5 minutes). Check to be sure the turkey is cooked.

Place cooked burgers on a bun and top with warm Country Bob’s Sauce (or substitute), lettuce and any other burger condiment you like. That’s it! It is soooo good!

Sweet Potato Fries
Serves 2-3

2 large sweet potatoes
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Za’atar seasoning

Preheat oven to 425 degree. Wash and scrub sweet potatoes. Cut into large slices (do not make them too thin or they will burn). They should be the size of homestyle potatoes. Toss them with the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Place on a nonstick baking sheet.

Cook them in the oven for 15 minutes and then flip over. They should be crispy and brown in about another 10-15 minutes. Remove from the sheet and sprinkle generously with Za’atar seasoning.

This is the perfect quick and easy dinner that still has tons of awesome flavors! I have finally found something to make me want to eat turkey in a burger and not just have sliced turkey breast meat for Thanksgiving! 🙂



Filed under Cheese, Country Bob's, Entrees, Healthy, Low-fat, Recipes, Sweet Potato Fries, Turkey Burgers, Za'atar

Buttercup Squash and Leek Soup

I found a new variety of squash in the store last week – buttercup squash. I had never seen these squash before, so I grabbed 4 of them (since they are on the small side) and went home to get online to see what I could find to do with them. The answer of course was soup!

I know that most squash are similar in texture and taste. However, these little round buttercup squash are a bit different. They have a subtle, earthy flavor and are unlike the other squash I frequently use (acorn, butternut, hubbard). They also do not have very much flesh when you cut them open (especially on the top side), so they are more difficult to work with when trying to cut them up.

The recipe that I used was from Fine Cooking. It called for peeling and chopping the squash and then boiling the squash with the leeks in chicken broth. I knew that roasting them in the oven and then scooping the flesh would be the quicker (and usually the tastier) option, however, I wanted to try the recipe as it was written. I was curious to see how flavorful this soup would be since the recipe was so basic and the ingredients so simple, so I did the preparation of the squash as it suggested. I kept thinking I was crazy the entire time I was involved in the tedious job of peeling and chopping. And several times I almost popped these little guys in the oven, but instead, I finished the task at hand!

I have made some additions and changes to the original recipe. First of all, I left out the herb butter that was to top the finished soup. Who needs all those calories? This soup is actually pretty healthy stuff! Instead, I finished the soup with a few of the same ingredients that were present in the herb butter (sherry and chives) and added a dollop of crème fraîche (that’s just a few little calories…).

The crème fraîche was a nice contrast to the earthy flavor of the squash and added a bit of sweetness. It also cut the heat of the white pepper. The recipe calls for 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of white pepper! I went with the 1 teaspoon and that definitely gave the soup a good bit of heat. My recommendation would be to start with a 1/2 teaspoon and work up from there. There was also a large amount of salt in the recipe. I cut that by more than half and added some later to taste (it is better to add it as you go than to have too much salt at the end).

The recipe calls for 4 cups of chopped leeks (they say that is 3 leeks using the white part only). Now, that would be the case if we were in France where I have seen leeks with 5 inch white sections, however, the leeks in Atlanta never have a very large white section (no matter where I shop). I happened to have 4 leeks in the fridge and I used all 4 (both white and light green parts) and I got 3 cups of chopped leeks. I do not think using the green part compromised the flavor at all, so I say go for it, unless you want to buy 6 leeks!

It also took all 4 of the buttercup squash to yield 8 cups of chopped squash (not 3 squash as the recipe suggested). I would not change anything that I did (other than a bit less pepper). I thought that it was delicious, quite healthy (definitely low-fat, even with a small amount of crème fraîche) and a nice change from all the known variations of butternut squash soup!

Here is my adaption:

Buttercup Squash and Leek Soup

Makes approximately 10 cups

3 cups chopped, well-washed leeks, white and light green parts only (I used 4 good-sized leeks)
8 cups peeled, seeded and diced (1-inch cubes) buttercup squash (It took 4 buttercup squash)
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
6 cups homemade or low-salt chicken broth (I used Swanson’s Organic)
1 Tbsp. kosher salt (you will need more salt at the end) (The original recipe called for 2 1/2 Tbsp. salt!)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper (more if you are brave)
2 Tbsp. plus dry sherry, to taste (I probably doused the soup with about 1/4 cup)
additional salt of your preference to taste (I used sea salt)
crème fraîche and chopped chives to garnish

Put the leeks in a large Dutch oven or stockpot (not aluminum).

Add the squash, wine and chicken broth. Cover and bring to a boil.

Reduce to a simmer; cook until the squash is fork tender, about 25 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes. Add the salt and pepper; puree in a blender or food processor in batches.

Return to the pot and cook on low for 10 to 15 minutes more (The directions said to serve the soup after pureeing, however, I prefer to cook the soup a bit longer). Add sherry and salt to taste. Serve with crème fraîche and chopped chives.

Another soup perfect for a cold and snowy Winter’s day (and we have sure had a lot of those!). Bon Appetit!

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Filed under Buttercup Squash, Chicken broth, Leeks, Low-fat, Recipes, Soups, Vegetables

Moroccan Chickpea Soup

This recipe is one that I immediately pulled out when I knew I was going with the healthier living approach. I have made it several times and it really is a great soup. It is yummy, healthy and vegan (what more could you ask for?). I love the cumin and tumeric with the chickpeas and all the veggies. It is also easy to make and you can eat it immediately (no long simmering).

I would suggest that you enjoy the soup the day that you make it. It is okay the next day, but it definitely is better the first day. The good news is that the recipe does make a smaller pot of soup.

The recipe is from a delightful book called A Beautiful Bowl of Soup by Paulette Mitchell. All of the recipes are vegetarian and many are vegan, such as this soup (or can be modified to be vegan). I have made several recipes from the book with great success.

Here is the recipe:

Moroccan Chick Pea Soup with Roasted Red Pepper Coulis


1/4 chopped, jarred roasted red pepper
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. sugar
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a mini food processor or small blender and process until smooth, occasionally pushing the mixture down the sides. Set aside to let the flavors blend.


2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 carrots, cut into 1/4 inch dice
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (I prefer Goya)
3 cups vegetable stock (I prefer Swanson’s vegetarian veggie broth or make your own)
2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp. fresh minced thyme or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme (use fresh)
1/2 ts. fresh ground pepper, or to taste
1/4 tsp. tumeric
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
Chopped parsley
Additional ground pepper

Heat the oil in a small Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion, bell pepper and garlic; cook stirring occasionally until crisp tender, about 6 minutes. Add the cumin; stir for about 30 seconds.

Puree the chickpeas, one cup of the veggie stock, and the lemon juice in a blender until smooth.

Stir the chickpea mixture into the soup, then add the remaining veggie stock and all the other ingredients, except the minced parley and garnishes. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat; cover and simmer until carrots are tender, approximately 10 minutes. Stir in the minced parsley and adjust the seasoning.

Top each bowl of soup with a swirl of the coulis, cracked pepper and some chopped parsley.

I serve mine with Toasted Pita Triangles, as suggested. I like to make a batch of these just for nibbling as a snack.

Toasted Pita Triangles

2 6-inch pita pockets (white or whole wheat)
2 Tbsp. olive oil or melted unsalted butter
1 Tsp. dried oregano
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat oven broiler. Place the rack about 4 to 5 inches from heating element.

Cut pita pockets in half. Using a pastry brush, lightly spread them with olive oil or butter, then sprinkle with oregano and
Parmesan cheese. Use kitchen shears to cut each half into 6 triangles.

Place the triangles in a single layer on a baking sheet and broil until they are lightly browned and the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Watch to be sure they do not brown too much. They become crisper when they cool.

These will keep for 2 days in a container in the fridge. To recrisp, put them on a baking sheet and heat for about 5 minutes at 350 degrees.

I hope you enjoy this yummy, healthy soup. It is perfect for all these chilly winter days.

P.S. It snowed last night in Atlanta!

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Filed under Chickpeas, Diet, Healthy, Low-fat, Recipes, Soups, Vegetables

Day Four of Ten in 2010

Here is my post for the first 4 days of Week 1 in the Ten in 2010 challenge (10 weeks to getting healthy).

I was feeling a little better yesterday about the lifestyle change (diet). I do feel “lighter”, although the scale was telling me something quite different (until this morning – yeah!). I was so hungry when I went to bed the other night that I was certain I would wake up in the middle of the night and be forced to at least have a glass of warm skim milk to get me back to sleep, but I slept through the night for the most part.

Now armed with a new set of “healthy” recipes, the last few days turned out to be somewhat frustrating as my hubby and I spent the better part of those days driving all over Atlanta looking for certain foods, spices, ingredients and supplements that are in hiding or are elusive….Some of these are things that I have used quite a bit and are sometimes hard to find and then there are items that it seems are nowhere to be found!

We went to Harry’s (Whole Foods Farmer’s Market), the International Market, Publix and several Hispanic and Brazilian grocery stores. Ok, now I wonder if these recipes are playing tricks on me…does anybody really cook with this stuff?? (The International Market does, however, have a whole goat in a bag if you are looking for that!)

With the help of the the internet and the phone, I finally found all of the remaining ingredients and went there yesterday. This truly does becomes absurd. This is why I prefer classic dishes that I can prepare from regular grocery store ingredients. Sometimes the International stuff is just too hard to find. But, I am now feeling better after the 3 days of searching are over and these nifty little ingredients are comfortably sitting in my kitchen! Best of all, I now have new sources for International ingredients.

So, other than that, how am I doing?

Day 1
1. No exercise (other than running through grocery stores all day, cooking and cleaning kitchen)
2. Breakfast – V-8 juice, Kashi cereal with skim milk (I was hungry in an hour), coffee with Stevia (2 cups to wake up!)
Lunch – Greek Salad with 1 tablespoon dressing, water
Dinner – Soup (I liked it, but my husband did not)
3. Wine – Don’t ask
4. Pounds lost – Doesn’t count yet

Day 2
1. No exercise (other than running through grocery stores all day, cooking and cleaning kitchen)
2. Breakfast – V-8 juice, oatmeal with skim milk (I was hungry in an hour), coffee (2 cups always!)
3. Lunch – 1/2 sandwich at Harry’s (Whole grain bread, turkey, swiss, lettuce, mustard), water
4. Dinner- chicken with salsa, brown and wild rice (Lundberg), steamed spinach
5. Wine – Don’t ask
6. Nibbles – I did sneak a few pretzel nuggets. (Thank goodness I am not Carrie Underwood…she has written down EVERY morsel of food she has eaten in the last 3 years! Now I am sorry, but that is just not right! I guess that is why she is Carrie Underwood and I am not!)
7. Pounds lost – Should I really be counting yet?

Day 3
1. Exercised my jaw at the dentist for a cleaning
2. Breakfast – 1/2 grapefruit, 1 egg, 1 slice yummy Sweetwater 460 (yes, the beer) whole wheat bread from Harry’s, coffee
3. Very healthy fish dinner
4. Wine – Don’t ask
5. Pounds lost – Okay I will start now – “0”!

Day 4
1. Exercise – too early in the day to tell (it is only 9 am)
2. Breakfast – had my warm water with lemon, am drinking coffee now
3. Pounds lost – 1 1/2! Whooppeeee!

I feel more like Bridget Jones…maybe I will even start to smoke (just kidding)!

I know I will adjust. It gets easier. My husband just got a Breville juicer yesterday (gotta love Amazon…ordered it from the comforts of the living room and poof! it’s here next day!). He has already concocted an apple, strawberry and celery drink…pretty yummy…pretty messy! He is also checking out reviews on grain grinders so that we make our own breads all the time. Just put that ball and chain right by the stove and come and find me later!

All kidding aside, I did prepare a dish on Day 2 that jumped out at me from the pages of the new Fine Cooking when I saw it. It was screaming colorful and healthy! Besides that, we picked up avocados at the International Market for the bargain price of 2 for $1.00 and my hubby loves avocados. Besides, they are on the good food list for him.

The dish is Chicken Paillards with Avocado and Pomegranate Salsa. It sounded yummy from all the combined flavors in the marinade for the chicken and the salsa (lemon, jalepeno pepper, parsley, pomegranate, green onions). Besides, “paillards” is a French term and I am desperate for anything French at the moment! If you are interested in the recipe, it is in the February/March issue. Click here for the link.

It was a nice dish and quite attractive. It was light, but tasty. I did not make many adjustments other than to make half of the recipe. If I were to make it again, I would add some jalepeno in the marinade for the chicken and probably a bit more in the salsa. The flavors were so subtle, that it needs to be kicked up a notch with some heat. I think that I want stronger flavors in foods when some of the fattier ingredients are missing, but overall, it was a nice dish and certainly appealing to the eye.

So, over all, we are on the right road. My husband is down 3 pounds and I am lighter by 1 1/2 pounds. It makes it easier to stay with the plan when progress is being made. We also get to look forward to one “cheating” day this weekend. Once a week we get to have whatever we want (within reason, of course). It gives us something to look forward each week.

Good luck to all of you with your Ten in 2010 challenge!

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Filed under Avocados, Chicken, Diet, Entrees, Low-fat, Pomegranate, Ten in 2010

South Beach Vacation

It’s time for a vacation for us! I wish I could say that it is a vacation involving sunny days, Florida beaches, nightlife, Latin food and mojitos, however, it is not. It is a vacation from overindulging in heavy food, wine, bourbon slushes and fatty desserts. Unfortunately, this diet needs to be a lifestyle and not a temporary vacation.

My husband and I both need to loose some weight, so the days of butter, beefy dishes and pasta are over. (Julia Child be gone!) Sure, I can cook lighter foods, but I just find it not to be as much fun. I am now going to learn how to make it fun and do it on a more regular basis. Yes, we will cheat (especially when entertaining or going out to dinner), but we need to change much of what we eat for health reasons.

We always eat whole grains, salads, fresh fruit and veggies. I also buy organic when I can. We eat low-fat yogurt and drink skim milk. We take our Benefiber (we are middle-aged after all…) and our necessary vitamins. We are not slugs. We are really thoughtful about grocery shopping and what we buy. The problem arises when I get to cooking some dinner dishes like rack of lamb, short ribs or lasagna. I also enjoy making special desserts from time to time (profiteroles, creme brulee, anything chocolate). As my husband says, we have a “we can eat this once in a while” every day and it does add up over time.

My hubby will be on the Sugar Buster’s Diet and I will be on a modified version, some days cooking for one, I am sure (I do not need to loose quite as much weight as he does!). He will be eating many boneless, skinless chicken breasts prepared on the George Foreman Grill, black rice and veggies. Our son calls this diet food “cardboard”. We cannot have that now, can we???

We thought about going on the South Beach diet. I have been on it twice before (the first 2 week part) and it does work. However, the minute you cheat and eat a plate of butternut squash ravioli, it is all over! So, we need to find a way to stick to a diet pretty much every day, yet incorporate foods we love so we are not tempted to completely blow the diet! In other words, like skipping the first 2 weeks of the South Beach Diet (Phase One) and jumping right to Phase Two and Three!

Therefore, my challenge is to find fabulous new dishes that are allowed on the diet (well, mostly allowed…) and to make alterations to the dishes I love so that we can still enjoy some old favorites from time to time. I look forward to making flavorful dishes using spices, different methods of cooking, marinades and ingredients that will provide fabulous tasting meals without all the extra fat and calories.

With that in mind, here is my list of food and exercise resolutions for 2010:

1. Do not cook anything from Barefoot Contessa unless I am entertaining and others will eat most of the dish.
2. Forget about the 6 pounds of butter still sitting in the fridge from Christmas cooking and baking.
3. Stop sitting so much and writing blog stuff!
4. Keep trying to like fish.
5. Eat lots more fresh fruit and veggies.
6. Stretch and do some form of exercise every day.
7. Send away neighbors bearing gifts of fatty foods.
8. Regular pasta…what is that?
9. There is no such thing as bread.
10. Red meat is on the infrequent ingredient list.
11. Drink less wine (oh, no, not that!!).

There are probably about 10 more things I could list, but it is pretty obvious what needs to be avoided in the kitchen and what needs to take place as far as getting more active. It is not like I do not know how to cook lighter, healthier dishes. I have done it most of my life. I have just veered off the road a bit in the last year or so and it has finally caught up where we’ve got to get back on that main road.

I have also joined a group of food bloggers and food blog readers in a program called Ten in 2010, The information about the program can be found on recipegirl.com. It is a commitment to cook and eat healthier for the first 10 weeks in the new year. Obviously, the commitment needs to be for the long-term, but it is a good start. It is always helpful to have moral support when starting any new program.

Other than achieving the goal of changing how we eat most of the time, I want for all of you what we wish for ourselves. I wish you a healthy, happy and prosperous 2010. 2009 was a strange year. I am glad it is behind us. I hope that 2010 will bring wonderful things to your life and delightful new dishes to try!

Happy healthy cooking and eating!


Filed under Diet, Healthy, Low-fat