Herbed Turkey Burgers with Goat Cheese and Cranberry Sauce

Amazeballs.  That's what the hubs said after he took his first bite of this turkey burger.  Actually, his first word was "man" followed by "oh dang." Then he swallowed that first bite and said "amazeballs."  As it turns out, he had seen the original blog post where I found this recipe and the blogger had said the burger was amazeballs so he was just agreeing with her.  But for a brief moment in time I thought the hubs had crossed over the language barrier between us and in no time would even be shortening his words, too.  How exciting!  Alas... 

But back to the burger.  That's exactly what this burger is.  AmazeBalls.  I intended to make the homemade buns that go along with this burger recipe, but I got held up at work and didn't get home in time to let them rise.  So I served the burgers without buns.  After he finished, the hubs said he didn't even think a bun would add anything to the burger, it was that good.  I agree that the burger was that good, but the bun looks pretty amazeballs itself so I might make it next time just because.  Try this turkey burger (with or without the bun) and let me know what you think.  I'm pretty sure you'll add amazeballs to your vocabulary just like the hubs did.

Cranberry Sauce
12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup honey 
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon
3/4 cup water

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine all ingredients and cook until cranberries burst, give off their juice, and thicken (about 10 minutes).

Remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve. Pour into a heatproof jar and allow to cool. Refrigerate. Note: it will thicken as it cools.

Turkey Burger
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chopped, fresh sage
2 teaspoons chopped, fresh rosemary
1 pound nitrate free ground turkey
1 egg
2 tablespoons greek yogurt
3 tablespoons whole wheat breadcrumbs
salt and pepper to taste
goat cheese

Saute onions and garlic in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the onions become translucent, add sage and rosemary and saute another minute. Set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl combine ground turkey, egg, yogurt, breadcrumbs, and cooled onion/herb mixture. Mix gently to combine. Divide meat into 4 sections and shape into patties.  Refrigerate patties for 20 minutes to firm up.  (I didn't do this because I was in a hurry and it worked fine although the patties were kind of flimsy).

Heat a heavy skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle patties liberally with salt and pepper and cook for about 4 minutes on each side. Top with goat cheese, add a splash of water to the pan (approximately 1 tablespoon) and cover until liquid evaporates. This will soften the cheese, but not melt it (goat cheese doesn’t really melt).  Top with cranberry sauce and place burgers on toasted buns with mustard and spinach, if desired.

Chocolate Fudge Pie

Let me preface this post by stating that I have never cooked or prepared food with tofu in my life.  Not even once.  I've eaten tofu before, and it's fine, but it's never really done much for me.  I don't love it or hate it (although sometimes the consistency kinda freaks me out).  So it makes no sense whatsoever that when we had dinner plans with friends last weekend -- the first meal after our 7 day juice fast -- and I was tapped to bring dessert, I decided to make this pie.  Like I said, I don't love tofu, and I've never cooked, much less baked, with it.  And as a general rule, I don't take experimental recipes to other people.  But for some reason, I felt inclined to try this pie.  Perhaps my brain as addled after a week of a juice fast, because even the hubs told me it didn't sound good and I shouldn't take an experimental chocolate pie whose main ingredient was tofu to a friend's house for dinner.  But I would not be dissuaded.  Try this chocolate tofu pie I must.  So.  Glad.  I.  Did.

Chocolate Covered Katie is a blog I've happened upon several times since I cut out processed foods 19 months ago.  Everything on her blog looks pretty delish, but I'll admit it: I was a skeptic.  Tofu?  In something chocolate?  Not likely.  So in spite of her blogging success, including 12,000 or so followers, I never made the leap.  I obviously know better than sweet Katie and her 12,000 or so followers.  Obviously.

Obviously not.

Lesson learned.  And now I have lots of time to make up for.  Which is a good thing because as I sit here typing, I am craving chocolate.  

And in case you're wondering -- the pie was a hit with the hubs and our friends!  My friend's hubs didn't even know, and probably still doesn't, that it even had tofu in it.   

**As an aside, please again forgive the terrible -- and I do mean terrible -- quality of these photos.  Being the skeptic that I was, I didn't take pictures because I assumed it wasn't blog worthy.  Then on the way to our friends' house, in the car, I decided I should take some just in cases.  (Name that movie).


1 12.3-oz package silken or firm tofu (such as Mori-Nu)
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk (preferably raw)
1/8 tsp salt
10 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
2-3 tablespoons honey


Melt the chocolate.  Combine melted chocolate and remaining ingredients into a food processor.  Blend until very smooth. Pour into a pie crust if desired. I went crustless because I didn't have time to make one, but I'm sure it would be equally good with a crust if you love crust. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. The pie gets firmer and firmer, the longer it sits. 

According to CCK, it's firmer if you use firm tofu and more like mousse pie if you use silken.  When I went to Whole Foods they had silken firm so I went with that, and it was pretty firm.  And delish.

Top with homemade whip cream, if desired.  Or homemade peppermint whip cream!

Recipe slightly adapted from www.chocolatecoveredkatie.com 

Juice Fast!

Pardon the secondhand iphone quality of this picture!

Do you have New Year's resolutions every year?  Do you keep them?  In 2010 I resolved not to shop anymore, not to buy anything (think clothes, shoes) that wasn't a non-essential.  Can you believe that I kept that resolution until September 2011?  Thank goodness for older sisters who clean out their closets and give hammedowns!  Especially because after I cut out processed foods I lost weight so a lot of my clothes were too big, so my (skinnier) older sister cleaning out her closet enabled me to keep my resolution!  My point?  I'm hoping that my success with my 2010 resolution is evidence that I can keep resolutions now that I'm a mature, responsible adult.  My 2012 resolution was to get my house, and my life, really organized.  I have a hard time saying no and I spread myself too thin, so often what falls by the wayside is my own house and life.  No more...the hubs is putting his foot down!  So as part of my resolution, I hope I can find time to focus on snacks and desserts more.  Cross your fingers with me!

Per the recommendation from a friend, I recently watched a documentary, "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead" -- it instantly streams on Netflix and I think every one of you reading this should watch it! -- and it got me interested in juicing.  So as part of organizing my house, and my life, I decided to start the year off with a cleanse.  If I'm going to clean my house and my life, I thought I should cleanse my body, too.  Oh, plus I got a Vitamix for Christmas.  A Vitamix is an uh.maz.ing machine.  You can blend with it.  You can make hot soup with it.  You can make ice cream with it.  It has a dry blade with which you can grind grains.  Expensive, yes.  Worth every red cent.  Absolutely.  So with my cleansing resolution in mind, and my Vitamix on my counter, the hubs and I did a juice fast this past week.  Some of you have asked about what exactly a juice fast is, why you should do it, and if I have any tips.  In short, here is my plug: do it!  To elaborate, here are my thoughts and tips on a juice fast.

What is a juice fast and why should you do it?

Juice fasting involves consuming only fresh raw vegetable and fruit juices for an extended period of time.  The point of a juice fast is that you can consume many more fruits and raw vegetables in liquid form than you can just eating them. So when you do a juice fast, you're consuming nothing but fruits and raw vegetables for however long you do it (3 days, 5, 7, 10, as many or as few days as you want).  A juice fast enables you to cleanse your body of old toxins. On a juice fast you get all the calories you would normally get in a day (i.e. 1500 for an average woman) from at least 1 gallon of fresh juice daily while giving your digestive system a break.  This, in turn, makes it easier for our body to rid itself of old matter and do things like detox the liver and kidneys.

Do you need a juicer? 

I don't have a juicer, so I used my vitamix.  The vitamix actually pulverizes the fiber of the fruits and vegetables rather than discarding it like most juicers do, so it's more like a soupy puree than just a juice.  Most juice fasts are strictly the juice from fruits and vegetables, and there are different schools of thought.  I think consuming fruits and vegetables (not just the juice) is just as beneficial and at least as nutritional.  So if you have a juicer, go for it.  If you have a Vitamix (if you don't, save your pennies and go get one!) or a blender, you can use that, too.  If you don't have a juicer, check out these instructions for making juice with a blender.

What can you expect on your juice fast?

I planned on a seven day juice fast. Day 1 wasn't bad, I just wanted to eat out of habit. Day 2 was TERRIBLE. Imagine the worst possible headache, coupled with nausea, only you can't take any medicine because you're only supposed to consume juice all week.  It was truly awful and at this point I decided I would shoot for a 3 day fast.  Interestingly, the hubs didn't feel as bad as I, although he felt a little off, and all we can figure is that he drank more water than I did on day 1.  Lesson learned: water is key.  Drink lots of it, even if you're not thirsty.  Day 3 was much better than day 2, so I knew I could keep going, but by the end of the day I was kinda bored with it.  So I decided to shoot for a 5 day fast.  Day 4 was even better than day 3 and I felt great by the end of the day.  I had no doubt I could complete the full seven days and even keep going!  The hubs, however, was not interested in that, and since I was impressed and thankful he even did it with me at all, I agreed that we could stop after seven days.  But I will still drink a big fruit/vegetable juice at least once a day from here on out.  At the end of the week, my thoughts are these:  I'm so glad I did it, I'll definitely do it again (once every six months, maybe?  once a year?), but I was really glad to eat again!

What are my tips for you?

To some extent, it's trial and error and you have to figure out what kind of juice you like.  I found that I like fruit juice (not surprising) more than vegetable juice.  I did one that was kale, broccoli, celery and lime and I almost gagged!  But even if I did a fruit juice, I always add lots of greens to the mixture.  Spinach, celery, and cucumber are the milder greens so they're great to add to any concoction and won't change the flavor. Kale is a bit stronger but it's still fine and definitely doable. I added spinach and celery or kale and celery to every one I made, regardless of other ingredients. Carrots and beets are good for adding some sweetness to a vegetable mixture.  I've heard that lemon and lime juice as well as ginger can counter the bitter vegetables like kale and mustard greens, but I didn't use a ton of those ingredients.

Variety is key.  When I started, I would make two big juices and take them to work and drink them throughout the day (about 8 - 10 ounces every couple of hours).  I think that's why I got bored.  By day 5 I made four or five smaller juices and the variety made it much easier.  Also, I would recommend adding ice to each one.  Even if the fruit and vegetables are cold, I found that ice made it colder and colder was better for me.

I was usually fine during the day, but by dinner time I was ready to eat something substantive. Each night this happened I told myself I had to finish the day and if I woke up the next morning and still wanted to eat something substantive, I could. Each morning I woke up feeling re-energized for the day to come. So if you feel weaker (mentally, not physically!) make yourself get through the day you're on and see how you feel the next day.

On day 1 I took a hot yoga class and it was fine.  On day 3 I taught a hot yoga class, which isn't as intense as taking, and it was fine.  On day 4 I took a hot yoga class and I got pretty light headed and my heart rate was much higher than it usually is.  On day 5 I taught again and was fine.  On day 6, I took again and this time my heart rate was even higher than it had been on day 4, so I decided to rest on day 7.  I think it's probably okay to exercise at the beginning of the fast, but a few days in you should probably stick to something less rigorous like walking.

What were some of my favorite juice recipes?

1/2 peeled lime
1/2 banana
1 large (or 2 small) apple(s)
a lot of spinach (at least 2 cups)

1 cup grapes
1 orange peeled
1/1 banana
1/2 cup pineapple or mango
1 carrot
a lot of spinach (at least 2 cups spinach)
1 apple
2 stalks celery

1 orange
10 strawberries
1/2 banana
1 apple
a lot of spinach (at least 2 cups)

homemade v8 juice (good for the in between times and without all that salt) 
6 medium carrots 
1 small beet (wash well) 
3 large tomatoes 
2 cups spinach (more if desired) 
1/4 head cabbage 
1 habanero pepper (I omitted this because I don't like things spicy) 
1 red bell pepper 
1 green bell pepper 
3 stalks celery 
1/4 sweet onion 
1/2 garlic clove 
3 kale leaves 
sea salt

I didn't try this one, but it looks delish:
1 peeled grapefruit
3 peeled oranges
1 peeled lemon
1 inch knob of ginger

Like I said, it's really trial and error so if you have a particular fruit (or green) you like, have fun and make up your own!  (And then share it with me).

Do I have any encouragement for you?

YOU CAN DO IT!  As you might know, my mother is fighting cancer.  She is undergoing conventional treatment, but we're also trying to fight it with an all-natural, holistic diet as well.  She and my father watched the documentary I recommended and, like I, became convinced of the vast health benefits of juicing.  Daddy agreed to do a juice for 7 days with my mother and let me just say, hell must have frozen over (sorry, Daddy!).  If he can do it anyone can!

Let me know if you have any specific questions.  And happy juicing!