Mediterranean Turkey Burgers

I love a good turkey burger. It’s really fun to add different flavors because the turkey can take on pretty much anything. Plus, the more extra ingredients you add, the juicier the burger. I love the Italian turkey burgers I’ve featured on SeaJetCook before, but this time I’m going Mediterranean.

These Mediterranean turkey burgers are super simple to whip up on a weekday night. Most of these ingredients are listed in my kitchen staples, but you can almost always find all of them in my kitchen at all times: extra lean ground turkey, frozen spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, and garlic. I love adding the spinach to the turkey burger because it adds moisture and fills space with ultra-healthiness. The sun-dried tomatoes add acidity, flavor, and a nice chewy texture; and the Parmesan adds the ooey-gooeyness that tricks you into thinking that this healthy burger is naughtier than it is. It’s as easy as that!

I love the sun-dried tomato in here, it adds a really special kick of flavor to the burger. So delicious, so juicy, and so healthy!

I love the sun-dried tomato in here, it adds a really special kick of flavor to the burger. So delicious, so juicy, and so healthy!

What you’ll need:
1.25 pounds extra lean ground turkey
10 ounce package of frozen spinach, defrosted
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 cup Parmesan cheese

What you’ll need to do:

Mix all ingredients together in a mixing bowl.

It's easier to mix with your hands

It’s much easier to mix everything together with your hands, so get in there and get messy!

Set your grill pan on medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray (or, get the BBQ up and running!). Because the spinach takes up so much space, this recipe makes about 6 turkey burgers. Section off about 6 equal-sized sections of the turkey mixture. Roll one section into a ball with your hands, then flatten and throw it on the pan. Cover the pan with aluminum foil to keep in the heat and moisture.

I definitely understand living a busy lifestyle, so I love how easy this is to whip up.

I definitely understand living a busy lifestyle, so I love how easy this is to whip up.

Grill for about 5 minutes on each side. Serve on a bun or by itself, it’s good either way!

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Parmesan-Sage Pork Loin with Oven Roasted Veggies

The colder it gets in the Midwest, the more I crave a hearty meal. I knew this would be the perfect winter meal with the first bite I took – I was instantly transported back to the cabin in the mountains my family used to visit when I was a kid. Sage is such a warm-tasting flavor, especially when it’s rubbed over a juicy pork tenderloin resting on a bed potatoes, carrots, onions, and celery. It’s a delicious one-dish meal perfect for winter hibernation.

While chicken is my usual go-to protein, pork is a great, inexpensive substitute for when you want to mix things up.

What you’ll need (makes 4 servings):
2 cups diced red potatoes, unpeeled
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup sherry
1 2lb. pork tenderloin
2 tbsp. dried sage
1 tbsp. dry garlic
1 tbsp. dry basil
1 tbsp. dry oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

What you’ll need to do:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Chop all your veggies, and then arrange them in a large roasting pan (if you don’t have one, like me, use a 9×13″ pan). Pour the chicken broth and sherry over the veggies and mix with your hands.

Rub the pork all over with the sage, garlic, basil, oregano, and salt and pepper. Place the pork on top of the veggies and sprinkle with Parmesan.

I sprinkle a little bit of the herbs over the veggies, too!

Roast until a meat thermometer registers 160 degrees Fahrenheit when inserted into the thickest part of the tenderloin. My roast took about an hour.

Let the roast rest for about 10 minutes – cover with aluminum foil to keep warm while roasting. Then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices and serve with the veggies and brothy sauce.

The delicious smell that fills your house while this cooks is intoxicating.

Enjoy!

Healthy Bacon Mac ‘n Cheese

A good friend (and regular reader) recently challenged me to make a healthy version of mac ‘n cheese. Since this good friend was also my college roommate, I know how much she loves this delectable comfort food. I admit, it’s one of my guilty pleasures, too. I love the rich, gooey, creaminess of mac ‘n cheese. One of my favorite tricks is throwing in some smokey, crispy bacon (yum!). However, since neither of us have the metabolism of an 18-year-old anymore, we can’t eat mac ‘n cheese nearly as often as we’d like and still fit into our jeans. So, challenge accepted.

Keep in mind, I don’t think there’s anything that can truly replace the fake, bright orange Kraft mac ‘n cheese with whole milk and real butter. But this dish gets pretty darn close. I swapped out the milk, butter, and cheese with low fat cheese and Greek yogurt. I love the Greek yogurt because it adds in that creaminess that you might be missing, plus it’s loaded with protein for added health benefits. I also added in some onion and garlic to add taste and fill you up on virtually-no-calorie veggies. I also used turkey bacon instead of real bacon, and I used whole wheat pasta instead of white pasta. While it’s not the healthiest dish in the world, it’s certainly a great substitute for the much-less-waistline-friendly version. Plus, it only took about 20 minutes to make and it makes great leftovers!

Make this dish the next time you have a comfort food craving.

What you’ll need:
1 box (about 13.5 ounces) whole wheat elbow pasta
1 medium yellow onion
9 tbsp minced garlic (yes that much)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dry mustard
1 cup low fat sharp cheddar cheese
1/3 cup low fat plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
4 strips turkey bacon (but feel free to add more!)

What you’ll need to do:

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook according to package directions. Drain when it’s done, and then add it back to the pot.

Whole wheat pasta keeps you satisfied longer.

While the pasta cooks, chop your onion as finely as you can. Set a medium-sized pot over medium heat and coat with the olive oil. Add your chopped onion, minced garlic, and dry mustard. Stir often and cook until the onion is transparent (this should take just a couple minutes).

Chop those veggies very finely so they mix in with the cheese sauce. Honestly, you barely notice they’re in there. The onions and garlic are slightly sweet and add tons of flavor.

After the onion-garlic mixture is done, add the cheddar cheese and stir until melted. Turn off the heat, then add the Greek yogurt and stir.

Creamy, gooey, and delicious. It’s not that same fake bright orange, but it’s very tasty!

Add the cheese sauce to the cooked macaroni noodles and stir until combined. Add to the 9×13 inch baking dish, and then sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the Parmesan is melted and the macaroni is hot throughout.

You could certainly eat this as-is, but let’s top this with a little turkey bacon…

While your mac ‘n cheese bakes, put a pan over medium-high heat on the stove to cook your turkey bacon. Spray the pan with cooking spray, and cook the turkey bacon for 5 minutes on each side. Your turkey bacon should be done at about the same time as the baked mac ‘n cheese. The reason I cook the turkey bacon separately and add it to the dish at the end is so that it stays crispy.

Lastly, tear the turkey bacon into small pieces and sprinkle over the mac ‘n cheese.

The bacon adds some smokey, crispy, saltiness that puts this dish over the edge. You’ll hardly notice it’s healthy!

Scoop into a bowl and enjoy!

Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

When Parmesan is included in the name of a recipe you immediately think indulgent, right? Believe it or not, this dish was inspired by a Biggest Loser Recipe. So not only is this dish delicious, but it’s deceivingly figure-friendly too.

I find that I get into a veggie rut every once in awhile. I cycle through broccoli, green beans, and Brussels sprouts throughout the week. Occasionally I’ll throw some asparagus into the mix, but that’s just another green vegetable. Don’t get me wrong, I cycle through them because they’re my favorites. Cooked carrots or corn are too sweet for me. And unless it’s a salad, I often forget what else I can put on my plate. Cauliflower is the perfect answer to mixing things up. It’s low in calories, high in fiber, a great source of Vitamin C, and even has a little protein. So throw a little cauliflower in your weekday routine to mix things up! And use this easy, delicious recipe is a great excuse to do so.

I like to sprinkle on a bit of dry parsley to add a pop of color, and fresh parsley spoils too quickly in my fridge. Remember, you eat with your eyes first!

What you’ll need:
1 head of cauliflower
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt (or just regular salt)
1/2 tablespoon dry or fresh chopped parsley
Cooking spray

What you’ll need to do:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Cut your cauliflower so that you’re just left with the florets.

**Tip: If you want to just buy the cauliflower in already-cut florets to save time, use about 4 cups of florets.

Spray an oven-proof covered casserole dish with cooking spray. Put your cauliflower florets in the dish, and spray them lightly with the cooking spray. Mix with your hands to evenly coat. This helps the Parmesan, garlic, garlic salt, and parsley adhere. Once evenly sprayed, add the seasonings and mix with your hands.

Cover and bake for 15 minutes.

Enjoy!

Turkey Meatballs: Part 3 – Turkey Meatball Soup

We’re on to part 3 of  my turkey meatball series, and you’ll have to trust me with this one. When I first heard of turkey meatball soup, I was very skeptical. So one night when Clinton was out of town, I made this dish for myself (I didn’t want him to be a guinea pig for a dish that even I was unsure of). Because I put in the work on Sunday to make a big batch of turkey meatballs – like I’ve been preaching over the last couple posts – I grabbed a few from my fridge and gave it a try. Needless to say, I’m so glad I did!

This dish reminded me of matzoh ball soup. The broth is slightly salty, which adds a different flavor to the turkey meatballs. At the same time, the pops of garlic, onions, and oregano in the meatballs add plenty of flavor to an otherwise boring broth. Besides, it’s kind of fun to break into one of those meatballs and take a giant scoop of meat, cheese, and broth! As long as your turkey meatballs are made ahead of time, it’s a delicious, 5 minute dinner dish that uses only kitchen staples. Added bonus: it’s about 200 calories, over 25 grams of protein, and very low carb. It’s perfect for a lazy Wednesday night.

Trust me, this is delicious. And wouldn’t you want to try any dish that takes only 5 minutes to make?

What you’ll need (1 serving):
4 turkey meatballs
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese

What you’ll need to do:

Heat up your turkey meatballs and chicken broth separately so that the turkey meatballs have the opportunity of heating all the way through. The turkey meatballs take about a minute on high in the microwave. The chicken broth takes a minute on high in the microwave, too – heat the chicken broth in the bowl you’re going to eat the soup in.

Put the meatballs in the warm broth and top with the Parmesan. The Parmesan will get all melty and gooey – delicious! This is an easy one to pack for lunch, too.

Enjoy!

Chicken, Pesto, and Spinach Quinoa

There’s this lunch place by my office that boasts really healthy, high protein lunches and it has this amazing chicken, pesto, and spinach quinoa. Whenever I go there for lunch, I always end up getting it even though there are other yummy looking items on the menu. I mean, chicken, pesto, and spinach? I’m in. And I love quinoa because of how versatile and healthy it is (see my latest post on quick and easy quinoa). So I really wanted to see if I could replicate this dish at home to satisfy the constant cravings I have for it.

This dish is so rich because of the pesto, creamy and nutty with melted Parmesan, with a little crunch from the quinoa. This dish tastes so naughty, but it’s so incredibly healthy! It’s really high in protein (about 35 grams) and really low in calories (about 371 per serving). And because it’s so high in protein, it’s really filling. I promise, my chicken, pesto, and spinach quinoa will fix any comfort food craving.

There's nothing better than curling up with a bowl of this chicken, pesto, and spinach quinoa and enjoying a movie on a colder Spring night.

What you’ll need (makes 4 servings):
1 cup quinoa
2 chicken breasts
3 big handfuls of fresh spinach (about 3 cups)
6 tablespoons pesto
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

What you’ll need to do:

First, get your quinoa cooking on the stove – all you do for this is make basic “Quick and Easy Quinoa.” So, put your quinoa in a pot with 2 cups of water (remember, the ratio is 1 to 2, quinoa to water). Put uncovered over high heat on your stove and watch it until it boils. As soon as it boils, turn the heat down to low and cover. Since you have about a cup of quinoa this time, it takes about 15 minutes to cook.

You'll know your quinoa is done when you see those little tendrils emerge.

While your quinoa is cooking, make sure your chicken breasts are defrosted and chopped into small bite-sized pieces. I chop it before I cook them because it more evenly cooks the chicken and it takes way less time. As soon as your chicken is chopped, throw it into a large pan sprayed with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Use a spatula to turn your chicken and make sure all sides are cooked – the chicken only takes a few minutes to cook. If your chicken is done before your quinoa, just set it over low heat to keep it warm.

When it's cut into those little bite-sized pieces, the chicken takes only a few minutes to cook.

After your quinoa is done, add your pesto and stir (any kind of store-bought pesto will do). Then, add your Parmesan cheese and stir – by adding the Parmesan to the warm quinoa it gets nice and ooey, gooey, and melted, and also acts as a binding agent in your dish. Lastly, tear your spinach into more bite-sized pieces as you throw it into the mixture (you could also probably use cooked, frozen spinach if you have it in your freezer). After these three ingredients are combined, add your chicken and stir.

Yum, yum, yum. I can barely avoid taste-testing this one as I cook!

That’s it! It’s a pretty easy, healthy dish that cures your craving for comfort food.