Tag Archives: turkey

The Big “O”

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Let’s take a minute and talk about the “O” word. No, not that “O” word. I’m talking about the word “organic.” It seems this simple word has become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon and everyone is jumping on the bandwagon to suddenly “go organic.” But what does the term “organic” really mean? Quite simply, it means that a certain piece of produce or food ingredient has been grown without the use of pesticides, chemicals, synthetic fertilizers, sewage (mmmm, sewage), genetically-modified organisms or ionizing radiation. For some reason, consumers have come to think that the term “organic” somehow means that the food is also low in fat, sugars, sodiums etc., but in reality, that is not always the case. Sugar can be labeled organic but when broken down calorically, it’s still sugar. It still provides the same amount of carbohydrates and calories as conventional sugar, it just hasn’t been treated with any pesticides or chemicals. So is it actually healthier for you? Technically, yes, since you aren’t exposing your body’s cells to harmful agents, but in the end, your body still recognizes it as sugar and thus utilizes and stores it in the exact same ways. I find it unfortunate that people are willing to shell out exorbitant amounts of money on an item simply because it is labeled “organic” without really figuring out if it’s worth the extra cost. Granted, there have been some studies to show that eating certain foods grown organically are actually more nutritious for you. And by nutritious, I mean that they contain more antioxidants, vitamins and phytochemicals than conventionally-grown foods do and at times, are even superior in taste and quality. Ever had an organically-grown strawberry during the peak of its season? Mind-blowingingly delicious! And perhaps for those items, it is worth it to spend the extra money. But in my opinion (and that’s all that this is, remember), choosing to stick with conventionally grown for a certain portion of my groceries, is still an okay thing to do, physically and especially financially speaking.

Now one of the areas that I pay close attention to when deciding whether to buy conventional or organic is in the produce section. These items seem to be hit the hardest with pesticides if not organically farmed so I make sure to know which ones are safest to buy if I go the conventional route and which ones I should only buy organic. The Environmental Working Group has made a list of the fruits and veggies that are the most toxic when grown non-organically. Take this list with you the next time you go grocery shopping.

The Dirty Dozen (listed in order of most toxic)
  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Grapes
  • Pears
  • My Beloved Carrots

The good news is there is also a list known as the Clean Fifteen which is comprised of the fruits and veggies that are acceptable to purchase without the organic stamp of approval. Mostly due to their having thick, protective skins that tend to shield the edible parts from harmful pesticides.

The Clean Fifteen
  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Kiwi
  • Mangoes
  • Onions
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Sweet Peas
  • Sweet Corn
  • Watermelon
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Sweet Potato

Okay, enough about organic foods for the time being. I’ll get off my little soapbox for a while. Just long enough to provide you with a delicious recipe that incorporates quite a few items from both the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists.

Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Topping

2-3 large sweet potatoes, chopped into large chunks

1/4 cup fat-free Greek yogurt

1 tbsp Earth Balance or Butter

2 tsp canola oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

3 large carrots, peeled and chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 lb. ground 99% fat-free Organic turkey breast

2 large zucchini, chopped

6 oz. tomato sauce

2 tbsp all-purpose flour

3 tbsp water

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp dried thyme

salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 cup frozen peas

1/2 cup frozen corn

dash of Nutmeg

Directions:

1) Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 2 qt deep casserole dish with cooking spray.

2) Place potatoes in a large pot of water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Drain and return to burner (make sure burner is turned off). Add yogurt and Earth Balance and blend with a hand mixer until smooth but not watery. Set aside.

3) Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the onions, carrots, ground turkey and garlic. Cook until turkey is no longer pink. Add the zucchini and saute 2-3 minutes.

4) In a small bowl, mix the flour with the water. Add to the skillet along with the tomato sauce, Worcestershire, thyme, salt, pepper, peas and corn. Stir well to combine and simmer 5-7 minutes to allow sauce to thicken.

5) Pour turkey mixture into bottom of prepared casserole dish. Spread sweet potato mash evenly over top of turkey and sprinkle with nutmeg.

6) Bake 30 minutes or until sweet potato topping is slightly browned.

7) Remove from oven and allow to sit 5-10 minutes before serving. Dig in and enjoy all the goodness of a deliciously healthy autumn-inspired casserole.

 

Another recipe that doesn’t photograph too well, but still tastes amazing. Thank you, shepherds, for this great idea for a pie.

Now if you don’t mind, I must be going. I need to go finish writing up my thesis on the anti-carcinogenic benefits of Daucus Carotus consumption in Latin American canines.

I’m Stuffed

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I know I don’t often talk about it since I’m usually so busy hammering out new recipes to share with you lovely people, but in addition to my being a culinary genius Chihuahua chef, I am also a well-educated Nutrition and Dietetics master guru. Yes, it’s true. I am the TeenyLittleSuperNutritionist as well. Therefore, I would like to dedicate this particular blog post to talking about the nutritional components of one of the ingredients in the recipe I am going to share with you today.

First up, the mighty bell pepper. Ahh yes, what a powerhouse of vitamins and nutrients this fabulous vegetable is. And with all the different colors of the rainbow bell peppers can be found in, they attribute a huge splash of color to many of your dinner and side dishes. Starting at green, which is the least mature, lowest in nutrients and often least expensive, all the way up to purple, you can pretty much find a bell pepper to fit your every color preference and palette. One cup of sliced green bell peppers contains nearly 180% of a person’s daily recommended value of Vitamin C. That’s more than can be found in a medium-sized orange. Better yet, one single cup of sliced red bell peppers contains 317% of the daily recommended valus of Vitamin C and around 93% of your daily recommended Vitamin A! Not too shabby, especially considering it only clocks in at 40 in the calorie department. Basically, an incredibly healthy way to up the flavor and nutrients in a dish without causing your belt to be put up a knotch. If you would like to read more fun health and nutrition facts about the bell pepper, check out this website: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=50  There are so many easy ways to incorporate bell peppers into your diet, too. While eating them plain might seem rather boring, there are a lot of fun ways you can jazz em up, such as: dipping them in a tub of  hummus, putting them on your daily sandwich, throwing them in a green salad, adding them to a pasta sauce, incorporating them with your tuna salad, roasting and pureeing them with some yogurt for a low-fat dip/spread… the possibilities are endless. Just don’t use them as a topping for an ice cream sundae. Didn’t go over well in mi casa, probably wouldn’t in your’s. (sorry Papa)

And just in case you’re still not convinced how easy it is to incorporate more bell peppers into your diet, I’ll be a little prince and help you out. I present to you my famous TeenyLittleSuperChef Stuffed Bell Peppers.

Mexican Stuffed Bell Peppers

(or perhaps it should be called, Bell Peppers Stuffed by a Mexican?)

1 cup uncooked brown rice

2 1/2 cups water

2 tsp olive oil

1 lb ground turkey ( I use 98% fat-free skinless, boneless turkey)

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

14 1/2 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained

14 1/2 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup frozen corn

8 oz tomato sauce

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp red pepper

salt and pepper, to taste

splash of hot pepper sauce, like Chalula

3 bell peppers, any colors, cut in half lengthwise

low-fat shredded Cheddar cheese

*This dish could easily be made vegetarian by leaving out the turkey and either adding lentils, soy crumbles or more beans.

Directions:

1) In a medium-sized pot, cook brown rice with 2 1/2 cups water until tender (about 30-35 minutes).

2) While rice cooks, heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add ground turkey, onion and garlic and cook until turkey is no longer pink and onions are soft.

3) Add in diced tomatoes, black beans, corn, tomato sauce, tomato paste and seasonings and set temperature to medium-low.

4) When rice is done, add it to turkey mixture and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes.

5) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

6) Place bell pepper halves cut-side up in a small casserole dish. Stuff each half with the turkey mixture.

7) Bake, uncovered, 20 minutes or until bell peppers are tender.

8) Top with shredded cheese and bake an additional 3-5 minutes until cheese is melty.

9) Place on individual plates, top with additional onions or sour cream and devour!

Now if that doesn’t convince you to eat a bell pepper, please e-mail me as soon as possible, because there must be something serioulsy crazy going on in your brain. And while I am not a trained psychiatric professional (yet), I would like to help.

That’s all for this teeny guy for now. I need to be going as I have a gig tonight with my mariachi band.

Buenos noches!