Clean Eats, Recipes

Thai Style Turkey Burger Lettuce Wraps

I’m back! Sorry for the long break. I was cleansing and then I got strep throat and then I went on vacation! The vacation was a much needed break and allowed me to get a few recipes down on paper, so here is the first of them with more to come. I hope to also share some details about our active vacation in a later post. For now,  I hope you enjoy the new recipe!

This recipe is adapted from Gwyneth Paltrow’s Chicken Burgers, Thai Style in her book “It’s All Good”. It’s a great recipe book and it has a few go-to recipes that I make often. I have made a few changes to her recipe but wanted to give her credit for inspiring my modified creation. I have substituted turkey thigh meat for the ground chicken as it holds together better. I’ve also tried to simplify the burger recipe to make it more approachable.

I recommend you try her version as well, but here is mine and I hope you enjoy them in the lettuce wraps. I love lettuce wraps in the summer. The fresh crunch of the lettuce with these spices makes it a great summer dish – much lighter than your traditional burger on a bun. These are also great sliced into a brown rice bowl with similar toppings and some sautéed greens as a side.

I love the addition of the dressing and toppings as described below, but these lettuce wraps have a number of ingredients and steps and I usually prefer to keep my recipes simpler than this. So, here are some ideas on how to simplify my recipe if you don’t have the time:

  • Leave out the quinoa. Or a better option, once a month, make a large batch of quinoa and brown rice and freeze it in quart sized freezer bags. When you need some and don’t have time to prepare it, just thaw a frozen bag and you are set.
  • Buy a jar of roasted peppers so you don’t have to roast your own. You can toss extras on salads and sandwiches.
  • It would be a shame not to use homemade dressing, I think they taste SO much better than store bought, but an option would be to buy an “Asian style” dressing to use instead. I get it, we are all time crunched.
  • And, as mentioned below, you can make these burger patties ahead of time and let them marinate. You might even freeze the raw patties and pull them out as-needed.
  • Or, a better option that I’ve done a number of times: I double the recipe and then freeze the cooked burgers for a super quick week night meal. Grab the frozen burgers and rice or quinoa from the freezer in the morning and put them in the fridge to get them thawing. This helps speed up dinner that night!

Please share any other ideas you have for enjoying these burgers in the comment section. I love to hear new ideas!

THE WHAT:
1 cup cooked quinoa per package directions 
1 large head romaine lettuce (rinsed and dried) 
1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper – sliced in half long ways, de-seeded and rubbed with EVOO and sprinkled with salt, pepper, and garlic salt 

BURGERS
1 lb ground turkey meat (dark thigh meat is best) 
1/4  cup ground flax seed  
2 finely diced scallions (green onions) – green stock included
1 Tablespoon Fish sauce (optional, but adds a great flavor)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt 
1/2 - 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

DRESSING 
Juice of 1 lime 
2 teaspoons fish sauce 
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt 
½ tsp sesame oil 
2 Tablespoons mild flavored oil like grapeseed oil 
1 Tablespoon honey
 

THE HOW:

  1. Begin preparing the quinoa per package directions. You cook quinoa just like rice (2:1 water to quinoa), and it cooks in only 15 minutes.
  2. In a medium bowl add all of the burger ingredients and squish together by hand to blend well.
  3. Press into 4-5 patties and set on plate. If you have time to let them marinate, stick the patties back in the fridge for 30 minutes (or as long as overnight). It really helps make them more flavorful, but they are good even if you throw them right on the grill.
  4. Place burger patties and the bell pepper halves on a hot grill.
  5. Cook the burgers 7 minutes the first side and approximately 6 minutes the second side.  Check the internal temperature of the burgers if you are unsure, but do your best not to overcook as this will dry them out.
  6. Check the peppers after 5 minutes. Flip and place on a cooler part of the grill if possible.
  7. Pull the peppers off after 5 minutes on the 2nd side. You want them soft and slightly dark, but not burned.
  8. While the burgers and peppers are grilling, add all dressing ingredients to a small bowl and whisk thoroughly. Set aside. (The dressing could be prepped the day before as well.)
  9. Once peppers cool a bit, you can peal the skin (if you like) and slice them long ways.
  10. Slice or cube your avocado.
  11. Once burgers are done, let them rest approx. 5 minutes and then slice into long strips.
  12. Assemble your lettuce wraps:
    • Place two lettuce leaves on a large plate
    • Add approx. ¼ cup of cooked quinoa to the bottom of each leaf
    • Add ½ of the sliced burger to each leaf
    • Add sliced roasted bell pepper and avocado
    • Drizzle each with approx. a Tablespoon of dressing
    • Repeat for each plate

 

Serves 4-5
ENJOY!

lettuce wrap burger_blog (2)

Clean Eats, Recipes

Crock Pot Stuffed Peppers

Lately, my brain is running on overdrive thinking about recipes and healthy meal ideas. I have so many recipe ideas but just not enough time to share them all. When you have a little one who is sick AND teething, time just vanishes. This week, with the lack of time, I’ve really been focused on time-saving healthy meals. It’s so easy to make excuses for eating unhealthy when you are super time crunched (and possibly sleep deprived). Which, had me thinking…what could I make in the crock pot this week that would really help make meals simple and easy?!

I have a dear friend who works for a food distribution company in St. Louis, Kuna Food Service. They are an awesome company and they try to source a lot of local foods and they carry very good quality meats. I recently got some amazing grass-fed ground beef from them. The kicker is, I have to buy in large portions since they distribute to restaurants. So, I had a 5 lb bag of frozen ground grass-fed beef that I wanted to thaw and use, so it got me thinking of how to utilize it all. Even if you don’t have a friend in food distribution, you can get a lot of great deals at Costco. Last weekend I also hit up Costco and grabbed two organic whole chickens. Or, if you have the freezer space, the best thing would be to buy a half or quarter cow from a local farmer, but few people have the space for that.

Here is what I ended up doing as far as meal planning for the week:

  • Monday – 1.5lbs used for a large batch of Southwest Style Burgers (recipe to come)
  • Tuesday – 1.5 lbs used for a crock pot full of stuffed peppers (prepped on Monday night while I was mixing up burgers already)
  • Re-froze the last 2 lbs for future use (that was enough red meat for me for the week)
  • Wednesday – roasted a whole organic chicken  (recipe to come) served up with a quick grated potato/shaved Brussel sprout hash
  • Thursday – Used leftover chicken in an Asian style stir-fry, used chicken carcass to make homemade bone broth (again, more recipes to come)
  • Friday – left overs

I prefer to pack a lunch for work, so these meals gave me plenty of left overs for that (and even had extra burgers to freeze for another time). When I made the rice for the stuffed peppers, I made a large batch (2 cups uncooked or 4 cups cooked) which allowed me to use in various things throughout the week for quick meals.

Today I’ll share the stuffed pepper recipe. You seriously cant mess these up so feel free to play around with the veggies you use and the ratio of rice to beef. If you wanted to cut back on the beef, you might even substitute some ground turkey for all or part of the beef. These are so simple and the crock pot does all of the hard work for you.

I just got a new Kitchen Aid mixer and it works fabulously for mixing. Of course, and old-school hand mixing does the trick just fine as well.

Add all of these ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly:
 1.5 pounds grass-fed ground beef (or ground turkey)
 1.5 cups cooked brown rice
 1 cup finely chopped mushrooms of choice
 2 finely chopped medium-sized carrots
 ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes
 ¾ cup spaghetti sauce (or canned tomato sauce)
 ½ finely chopped white or yellow onion
 2 cloves minced garlic
 2-3 teaspoons sea salt
 1 teaspoon ground pepper
 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
 4 large fresh basil leaves finely chopped 

Then take 6 large multi-color bell peppers slice off the top and use a small knife to slice out the seed membrane and clean out all of the seeds.

Stuff the meat mixture into each pepper and prop open-side up in the crock pot.
6 peppers should all fit perfectly in a standard sized crock pot.

Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

I sautéed up some mixed greens with garlic and sea salt and served on the side. It complemented the peppers really well.

stuffed peppers

ENJOY!
Serves 6