Broiled [juicy] Turkey Burgers

If you follow me on Instagram you are well aware that for the past 4 years I have stuck to a plant based diet. If you have read my “about me” page you also know that I have too many GI issues to count, food intolerances, and tried just about every lifestyle change to try and make my life a little bit more bearable each day. So you are probably wondering why I am posting, making, and eating turkey burgers. Let me explain.

For the last few months my symptoms were rapidly becoming worse- the migraines were back full force, the constant abdominal pain was at an all time high, the distention of the stomach made me feel and look as if I was carry a set of triplets (sorry but true!), my usual go-to plant based foods that once brought me comfort were making me sick, and I began to develop more bacterial intestinal infections. I could go on and on but I’ll save you the time and mental visions. Every food I ate caused me tremendous pain resulting in opting for more and more medication to relieve the problems.  I couldn’t seem to find the true source of the issue. I was eating very healthy- raw foods, raw desserts, smoothies, salads, natural sugars, etc. Being fed up with what was happening to my body and feeling that there would be no light at the end of the tunnel, I started to keep a food journal- not tracking the calories, but tracking the amount of fiber, fat, and sugar content that I was eating. From this I learned that I was consuming over 150 grams of sugar a day….yes you read that right.  [We are only supposed to be having a max of 30 grams of sugar.]

It turns out all those smoothies I was consuming each day (sometimes 3 or more in a day) contained over 20 grams of sugar EACH, the raw desserts made with dates / maple syrup had over 30 grams of sugar in each serving. Those salads I had? The salad dressings had more added sugar than a piece of chocolate cake. I am honestly surprised I didn’t give collapse in a sugar coma from all the “healthy” foods that I was consuming. This was a huge wake up call and I was surprised I didn’t realize this before since sugar has always been my enemy. Someone who suffers from small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, sugar is the last thing I need in my body as it only causes the overgrowth to grow. I needed to clean up my diet and make major changes in order to get my health back on track.  Eliminating added sugar was the first step to heal my stomach- things like smoothies with dates, raw desserts, honey, and any added sugars had to be kicked to the curb- not forever, but eventually in moderation.

I started to incorporate lean meats (organic vegetarian fed turkey, chicken + they contain no sugar) back into my diet, pairing the meats with low sugar veggies. I immediately noticed a huge difference and was extremely surprised how well my body reacted to this immediate change. I managed to cut down the sugar content to 15-30 grams a day, which is a lot considering I would normally have 30 grams before breakfast was over.  You’re probably saying, well why did you have to eat meat? My body was also craving meat and more protein.  I knew that was a sign and I always listen to what my body needs because it was obviously sending me warning signals letting me know something was wrong. Before I switched to a plant based diet I ate meat all the time, but a few years ago it was no longer serving my body in the right way.  Now it is. As my name states, I am all about striving for balance, listening to what my body needs at certain times, and following my intuition when it comes to food choices as they are often signals of what you truly need. Hopefully you all will continue to follow me on this journey and I apologize in advance to anyone that crosses me while I am eliminating added sugars from my diet- the addiction and the struggle is real!! 

Ok, enough out of me, on to the turkey burger recipe right? This past weekend I was craving a juicy turkey burger, maybe because I was binge watching football on television or because I was preparing turkey meatballs for the week, but whatever the reason was, I often find can be just as good as a beef burger depending on how they are prepared.  Turkey burgers are a great way to switch things up and it is also much leaner than red meat, containing a lot less of the bad fat- saturated.  

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The problem that I often find with turkey burgers whether I prepare them myself or order them at a restaurant is that they can become easily dry and bland in their taste.  Who wants that?! With this recipe, I think I may have found a way to enjoy a nice juicy turkey burger full of flavor without a grill! Instead of placing the turkey burgers on the stovetop, frying them in an unnecessary amount of oil and having them crumble or stick to the pan within minutes, I decided to broil these burgers in the oven!

The patties came out nice and juicy until the last bite! They were light and didn’t have that dense / rubbery texture that can often happen if they are cooked for too long.  For these patties I stuck to the basic ingredients that most of you probably have on hand in your kitchen.  You can easily switch up the flavors catering it to what you are craving at the moment!

Ingredients:
[Makes 3; depending on size]
[Total time: 30- 40 minutes]

¾ - 1 lbs. organic white meat (93%) ground turkey*
2 gloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup or 2 tablespoons chopped yellow/sweet onion (or 3 tsp. onion powder)
½ - 1 cup chopped parsley
Sea salt + pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of kite hill ricotta dairy free cheese (optional)*

*If you want a little more fat in the burger, use a mixture of white and dark meat.
*The kite hill ricotta cheese is completely optional.  I love this brand of dairy free cheeses and found that it made the turkey burgers juicer but you could also substitute with a different cheese such as regular ricotta or Parmesan cheese. You could also use 1 egg or 1 egg white. I haven’t tested it that way, but I am sure that it would work just the same.

Feel free to adjust the ingredients as well with any of your favorite spices and herbs! Ground mustard seeds, oregano, thyme, or a little cayenne pepper would work great!

Directions:

Mix the ingredients thoroughly with hands in a large bowl.

Shape into 3 patties. It is important to shape them into the same size with the same thickness to ensure even cooking. Try to aim for a thickness of ¾ inches.

TWO options:

1.     Bake them in the oven on a baking sheet (lightly drizzled with olive oil) on 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.  Flip the burgers after 12 minutes.  You will be able to tell that they are done when you can start to hear them sizzle! The burgers will also puff up a little bit and when you pat them down with a spatula, be careful because you will loose a bit of the juice.

OR: (My preference = extra juicy)

2.     Place the patties on a baking sheet with a little bit of olive oil.

Move the rack either 3 or 6 inches from the broiler. Turn the broiler on high and allow it to heat for a few minutes.  Place the baking sheet in the oven and broil the burgers for 5-7 minutes on each side. The burgers should be slightly brown and a little crisper on the outer edges of the patties.

You will be able to tell that the burgers are finished (both methods) when the juices run clear and the interior of the burger is not pink in color! The internal temperature of the burger will also read 165 degrees F.

I served the turkey burgers with my homemade roasted walnut garlic pesto sauce in one of my favorite sprouted whole grain tortillas from Food For Life Baking Company. You could also use a lettuce wrap with avocados, tomatoes, sautéed onions- the options are endless!

Roasted Walnut & Garlic Pesto Sauce

If you follow me on Instagram [@balancewithb] you know that I have a slight obsession with zoodles! Since I can’t handle a big bowl of gluten, it is the perfect alternative to pasta for me.  Not only are zoodles healthier, but they are super easy and quick to make. If you are anything like me, once I find something I like, I tend to eat it for almost every meal. As much as I hate to admit, I probably eat zucchini noodles almost 4 to 5 times a week.  I was becoming lazy and bored with the sauce that I was adding to my dishes- and by sauce I mean- pouring store bought marinara sauce over the zoodles once they were cooked. With that being said, I needed to spice things up a bit and change the dish so I could fall in love again with zoodles!

Instead of the usual red sauce, I wanted to make a sauce that had texture and was more on the savory side.  This sauce is dairy free, full of flavor, and adds the perfect amount of crunch for each bite! I am not sure why it took me this long to make my own pesto sauce! It was hard to not eat the sauce by the spoonful since it was so fresh.

I know pesto is usually made with cheese, but this is just as good without it! (It freezes better, too!). I packed this pesto sauce with the usual suspects of fresh basil, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon, sea salt, and pepper.  I opted for walnuts instead of pine nuts to try something a little different. Toasting the walnuts and roasting the garlic really makes a difference in the taste of the sauce because it brings out a richer flavor, but it isn’t necessary.  All the flavors, especially the basil really packs a punch and in reality it is hard to mess this one up! I originally planned for this sauce to be used for my weekly zoodles feasts, but it would be great for pizza, tossed with pasta, chicken dishes, or a crusty piece of sourdough bread!

Enjoy!

Ingredients:
[Makes about 2 cups]
[Total time: 15-20 minutes]

1/2 cup of walnuts
1 head of garlic (5-6 cloves)
Juice of half a lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 1/2 cups of basil leaves
Sea salt + pepper to taste

Directions: 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On a baking sheet add the 1/2 cup of walnuts on one side and 5 to 6 cloves of garlic to the other side.  Drizzle olive oil over the garlic cloves.  Place the sheet into the oven and cook for 10 minutes.  The walnuts will be lightly browned and fragrant. Remove the walnuts from the pan and allow the nuts to cool.

Next, place the baking sheet with the garlic cloves back in the oven for 5 more minutes. 

Once the walnuts have cooled, add the walnuts to either a food processor or a blender. [I used my vitamix]. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves into the food processor or blender and blend together with the walnuts for a few minutes.

Next, add the basil, sea salt, pepper, and the juice of half of a lemon.  While the food processor or blender is on, add the olive oil.  You may need to scrape the sides every so often so the sauce is mixed together and combined. 

I like the pesto sauce on the chunkier side; therefore I do not mix the walnuts all the way. Taste test and add additional salt, pepper, or basil leaves to your liking. 

This makes roughly 2 cups and stores best in the fridge for a week.  If you want to freeze the sauce, it will last 3 to 4 months.  I often make larger batches and place the left over pesto sauce in ice cube trays so I can have smaller individual servings ready to go!

 

 

PS. Before you go...looking for another amazing pesto recipe that is creamy, made with kale, and NUT-FREE?! My girl Rach has just what you need on her blog.  Check out the recipe....and then I am sure you will end up making one of her bliss balls.