Lettuce Wrapped Turkey Burgers and Eating More Vegetables

We’re all adults here. We all know we’re supposed to eat vegetables, because they’re good for you.  But the reality is life happens.   We get caught up in things; we forget to eat vegetables…  Not cool, guys.  Eat your vegetables.

I’m a big proponent of vegetables and exercise being the cure for most things.  I’m not a nutrionist or a doctor but I’ve realized that when I eat more vegetables and exercise regularly, I tend to feel better.

Last week, Melissa’s Produce reached out to me asking if I’d like to review one of their boxes and maybe come up with a few recipes from the content.  I said Yes, because 1. I love vegetables and 2. it seemed like a great opportunity to blog about things.

So let me tell your a little bit about the produce box I got.  I got the “Organic Mixed Vegetable Box – Southern California Delivery.” I chose this one because I didn’t want a box with fruit.  I would rather just have vegetables.  It arrived while I was at work.  Since I live in a housing complex, it was delivered to the apartment office, so the box didn’t sit outside all day.  Luckily, I was able to make it home a few minutes before the apartment office closed at 5pm.  If not, I would have had to wait til the next day, which would have sucked.

I got the box and it was jam packed with deliciousness.  I definitely give them props for their packing skillzz.  Everything was in there, the lettuce wasn’t smashed or wilted.  Thumbs up for that! There was also an ice pack in the box  that kept everything cool.

Here is everything my box included:

produce

This is a good amount of produce for two people.  But Jesse and I eat a good amount of vegetables so we’re good to go.   One of the biggest complaints I’ve heard about produce delivery services and CSA shares (aside from cost), is that it’s simply too much produce. I agree, it is a good amount, but not really too much.  When I first saw the enormous pile of vegetables, I got concerned and thought, oh goodness how are we going to eat all this?  But really, having this box forces us to eat more vegetables, it’s just about prioritizing and planning. Using this produce, I’ve planned a variety of meals to use up almost all the vegetables, and today I’ll share one of these recipes: Lettuce Wrapped Turkey Burgers with Creamy Yogurt Sauce, served with Grilled Zucchini. Sounds delish right?  I think it looks pretty great too! turkeylettuceburger2

The most important thing to remember with CSAs and produce delivery is that certain things go bad faster than others.  Lettuce and kale are the most perishable, so they should probably be eaten first.  Then Zucchini, Broccoli, Cucumber and Celery.  Beets, Carrots, Potato, Garlic, Onion, Leeks and Ginger, will all last a pretty long time.

Keeping that in mind, I’ve been having green smoothies with kale for breakfast everyday to make sure to use the kale.  To consume the lettuce as quickly as possible, I decided lettuce wrapped burgers were the way to go.

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Lettuce Wrapped Turkey Burgers with Creamy Yogurt Sauce

For Turkey Burgers: 

1 package lean ground turkey (a little more than a pound)
1 leek, white part only, finely chopped
1/4 cup onion finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
garlic salt to taste

For Creamy Yogurt Sauce:

1 cup non-fat greek yogurt
1/2 cucumber, grated
1 lime
Garlic salt to taste

Extra:

Lettuce
Tomato  

Combine all ingredients for turkey burger.  Work together and form into patties (4-6 depending on how big you want them, I did 6).  Grill on a hot grill, or on a skillet or you can even bake them.  If you’re grilling on a grill or in a pan, it’ll be about 5 mins per side (depending on how thick your patties are).

In the meantime, prep your yogurt sauce by combining yogurt, grated cucumber and lime juice.  Mix together and add garlic salt.  Taste until you get the right saltiness.  Then refrigerate until ready to use. (Note: You can make this sauce is advance.  As long as it’s refrigerated, it’ll be good for a few days)

Next assemble your burger.  I doubled up and used two lettuce leaves per side of the burger “bun” (so 4 lettuce leaves total per burger. Remember, we’re packing in those vegetables!).  Put down two pieces of lettuce, top with burger and tomato, drizzle with yogurt sauce and top with more  lettuce.  Serve with some grilled zucchini and enjoy!  

This recipe will make 4-6 lettuce wrap burgers (I made 6). I was really happy with this recipe.  Confession: I ate 2!  I don’t feel guilty.

If you’re curious about how I grilled the zucchini, I just sliced it into 1/2 inch thick strips then drizzled with olive oil and tossed with some garlic salt.  That’s it.  And seriously delicious. turkeylettuceburger3

This meal was chock full of vegetables, which is always awesome, but also super tasty and satisfying.

turkeylettuceburger1

I can’t wait to make use of the other vegetables.  Here are some of my ideas to make the most of each ingredient…

  • Use Ginger to make awesome peanut sauce to go on zucchini noodles.  Or just drink with hot water, because ginger is great for your immune system!
  • Roast beets to make an amazing kale salad with onion, almonds, goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette.  Doesn’t that sound amazing? I also intend to saute those beet greens and add those to the salad as well.
  • I cut up the rest of the cucumber that I didn’t use in the yogurt sauce just for snacking.  Because don’t we all need some extra veggies as an afternoon snack?  I think yes.
  • Carrots: Gluten free carrot cake.  Yup. I made it happen.  Recipe soon!
  • Celery: I love filling celery with tuna salad for an awesome and light lunch.  I can seriously go through 10 celery ribs in one sitting with a bowl of tuna salad.
  • Leeks + Potato… Do I even need to say it?  Potato-Leek Soup!

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with Melissa’s Produce delivery service.  It’s the most reasonably priced delivery service I’ve seen.  I used to pay about $19/week for my CSA share in Ithaca.  The box I got through Melissa’s Produce costs $25 (although I got it free this time, thanks to Melissa’s Produce!).  For $25 you get 7lbs of organic produce.  Not bad.

Are you a fan of lettuce wrapped burgers or are you a bun purist?

Disclaimer: Melissa’s Produce provided me with a free produce box in exchange for this blog post.  Opinions and recipes are my own.

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Coconut Mint Cooler

I signed up for a half marathon.  Somehow I thought it was a good idea to run 13 miles.  So here it goes.  It’s not til November, but training has commenced (luckily, I run with Allison from Sweet Potato Bites and she keeps me going).

This morning I ran 8.  I’ve noticed I’ve been having some issues with hydration after these longer runs, especially since we’ve been having ridiculous humidity in southern California and I sweat like a whore in church.

I know coconut water is great for hydration, but sometimes, just plain coconut water is boring.  Sometimes you need to get a little bit fancy.  If you’re feeling fancy and dehydrated, I have the perfect drink for you.

Coconut Mint Cooler

Coconut Mint Cooler

4 cups coconut water
Juice of 2-3 limes
12-15 mint leaves

Blend together all ingredients.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  Serve over ice (or with a dash of rum).

Coconut Mint Cooler

I’m pretty pretty much convinced that this would also make a great mixer.  I think it’d go great with rum… like a coocnut mojito! Would you say no to that?

Or if you wanted to keep be alcohol-free, mix with some club soda to give it a little fizz.

Coconut Mint Cooler

Either way, you’ll feel fancy drinking this and knowing you’re on your way to full hydration without any added sugars, chemicals or crazy ingredients.

 

What’s your favorite way to hydrate? 

Healthier Pancake Toppings and Options

With my series of overindulgent posts as of recent, I feel the need to balance out the calories and cholesterol with something a little bit healthier: Pancakes.

pancakebreakfast

That’s not a joke.  I totally think pancakes can be healthy.  You just have to know how to do them. As a kid, I hated pancakes.  I always thought they tasted funny.  Then something magical happened, I tried IHOP’s pancakes and I loved them.   That’s when I realized what I hated was Bisquick pancakes.  That’s all my mom ever made.  Sorry mom, but bisquick is just gross. When I discovered my love of pancakes, I wanted to eat them all the time.   While we all know pancakes aren’t always the healthiest breakfast, there are ways to lighted up your pancakes and especially the toppings so they’re still fun and delicious but won’t undo your workout. Here are a few ways to keep your pancakes a little on the healthier side so you can enjoy them guilt-free. peachpureepancakes2text

Choose a Better Pancake Base

Pancakes can basically be a carb fest (nothing wrong with that), but if you’re looking to balance your meal, adding protein powder is a great start.  I’m a big fan of protein pancakes because the extra protein helps keep you full.

Some of my favorites are:

protein pancakes1

Vanilla Coconut Protein Pancakes
Pumpkin Protein Pancakes
Banana Protein Pancakes

The fun part of protein pancakes is you can play with different flours and protein powders and find a mix that you love.

If making your own pancakes from scratch isn’t your thing or you’re really not looking to add some extra protein, there are some pancake mixes that are pretty natural and overall healthy.  I love Kodiak Cakes, because they’re super easy to make (just add water) and the ingredients are all natural.

You could also go the Paleo Pancake route.  It’s not exactly a pancake but still pretty darn tasty.

Lighten Up Your Toppings

When I was younger, I ate the regular old pancake syrup you get at the grocery store.  Nowadays, I try to stick with toppings that don’t have any chemicals or artificial sweeteners.  Straight up maple syrup is a little too intense for me, so generally I like to mix it up to create different types of syrups and sauces and toppings.

My latest obsession is fruit purees mixed with maple syrup.

I like to puree some fresh peaches and mixed it with maple syrup… about 2 tbsp peach puree + 1 tbsp of maple syrup for one person.  You can also just puree the fruit and skip the maple syrup.  I tried that with banana (simmered them in water first, but raw works) and it was awesome:

pancakesbananasyrupMy other favorite combo is plain greek yogurt with maple syrup.

vanillacoconutproteinpancakes2

 

But in general, fruit is a great topping.  It helps bulk up the volume without adding as many calories as eating extra pancakes.  Berries are always a great addition…

peachpureepancakes1

But you can also get creative, like topping your pancakes with persimmon!

Pancakes with Persimmon2

 Portion Control

I love a big stack of pancakes.  Mostly because it looks pretty, but also because it’s fun to eat.  But eating 4 or 5 full sized pancakes is a lot.  So what I do is I made them smaller!  That way I feel like I’m eating a lot but really I’m not.

pancakes2
I generally use a tbsp measurer to prepare my pancakes.  Each pancake is composed of 2 tbsp of batter, instead of about 1/4 cup (4 tbsp) which is normal.

In the photo above, the banana slices show how the pancakes are actually pretty small.  Despite the fact that the portion size is smaller, I still feel like I’m getting a good amount of pancakes.

 

I’m all for eating a full stack of pancakes with butter and maple syrup every once a while.  But on a normal day basis, I like to keep it a bit lighter.  Pancakes can still be enjoyed if you’re trying to stay healthy.  It’s just about making sure you make the right choices.

What’s your favorite way to slim down your pancakes?