turkey lettuce wraps

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It’s taken me a little longer than I’d planned, but this month I have officially lost……100 pounds!! Still would like to lose about another 30 pounds, ideally before my 50th birthday in February. The thing with losing an extreme amount of weight is that once you get going, the pounds come off pretty quickly in the beginning, which is incredibly motivating, but then as time goes on the losses get smaller. In fact, I lost my first 30 pounds in about 2 months, but I have absolutely no expectations of losing these last 30 pounds that quickly. Yes, I could probably do it if I really cut back on what I eat and spent several hours a day at the gym, but for me that just isn’t realistic. When I started this weight loss journey I promised myself that I wouldn’t do anything drastic or anything that I couldn’t continue to do for the rest of my life. So I’ll lose these next 30 pounds by doing what I’ve been doing all along..eating sensibly, keeping track of every bite I take, and working out 5-6 times a week. Doing it any other way just isn’t an option for me, and I’m pretty confident I can hit that final goal within the next 7 months. That’s about 4 pounds a month..totally doable!

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So, you may be saying to yourself, “Well, that’s nice, Lisa’s lost 100 pounds, good for her, but I came here to check out a recipe for lettuce wraps. What does this have to do with pictures of lettuce wraps??? Wouldn’t it make more sense for her to be sharing pictures of herself instead of turkey sitting in lettuce leaves??” And yes, of course that would make more sense, but I absolutely, positively despise having pictures taken of myself. And that hasn’t changed since losing all this weight..crazy, I know, but along with working on getting healthier and in better shape, I’m also working on changing how I see myself, and you know what? That’s way harder for me than losing weight has been. So don’t judge me for still not being ready to show some before and after photos, but trust me..they’re coming. Soon. Really. One of these days. Honestly.

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Now, where was I before I started over-sharing about my self-image problems..oh yeah, turkey wraps and their connection to losing 100 pounds. Well, a couple months ago I joined a new gym and had a few sessions with a personal trainer. Up until that point I’d been working out at a bare-bones type of gym, which I actually really enjoyed and almost felt sad leaving, but I knew it was time to change things up and challenge myself even more. I love the new gym and really enjoy my training sessions, and one of the nice little perks of working with my trainer is the healthy recipes she shares. Her turkey wrap recipe sounded great and inspired me to come up with this version. As with most of the recipes I share, it’s very easy and versatile. Since I’m the only one in my house who was eating these (yeah, those crazy men I live with who don’t eat mushrooms or most other veggies) this recipe was in my fridge for a couple of days and made a great post-workout snack. Also made a pretty good midnight snack too..cold, right out of the fridge..yum! Perfect for these hot summer days (and nights).

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Now don’t get intimidated by the seemingly long list of ingredients…yeah, there are a lot of things in here, but this all comes together in less than 30 minutes..I promise. For the cabbage and carrots, I used a bag of pre-chopped stuff from Wegmans (I think it was called Asian slaw mix), but if you don’t have a Wegmans in your area, you should be abe to find something similar at your local market. If you can’t find the 5-spice powder in the spice section, try the Asian section..that’s where I found it after unsuccessfully searching high and low in the spice section. That’s also where you’ll find Hoisin sauce, but if you’re not a fan, use your favorite stir-fry sauce instead..that’s what I’ll be doing the next time I make this. As always, I hope you’ll try it and make it your own by skipping what you don’t like and adding in what you love, and let me know how it goes.

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turkey lettuce wraps
 
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Serves: 4

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil (optional)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound ground turkey breast
  • 1-2 Tablespoons ginger, freshly grated
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, grated or finely minced
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon 5-spice powder
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce or stir-fry sauce
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 8-ounce can water chestnuts, drained and coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup chicken stock or water
  • 1-2 cups slaw mix, preferably Asian-style
  • 2 heads of Boston lettuce leaves

Instructions
  1. Heat the oils over medium heat in a large non-stick skillet. Add the onion and mushrooms, cooking 2-3 minutes until the onions just begin to soften. Add the turkey, ginger, garlic, red pepper, and 5-spice powder and cook until the turkey is cooked-through, about 5 minutes, stirring often and breaking up the turkey as it cooks.
  2. Add the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and water chestnuts to the turkey mixture, cooking another 2-3 minutes, stirring often, until water chestnuts are heated through. If the mixture seems too dry, add about ¼ cup of chicken stock or water to moisten. Taste for seasoning and add additional soy sauce, hoisin sauce, or salt if needed.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the slaw mix. The slaw mix should remain crunchy and barely cooked.
  4. Serve in lettuce leaves.
  5. For a quick dipping sauce, combine a little soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and red pepper flakes.

 

 

roasted berry sauce

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Hope everyone is enjoying the 4th of July so far! This is one of my favorite holidays, mainly because it’s summer and because I love fireworks. Looks like our weather is going to cooperate here in Maryland so that we can get out this evening to enjoy them. We usually go to a few different fireworks displays during 4th of July week. Last night it was at my dad’s on the river near Annapolis and tonight it will be in the park in downtown Frederick. Then I’m sure we’ll see at least one or two more shows over the weekend. Did I mention I love fireworks?!

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So, what does this recipe have to do with the 4th and fireworks? Pretty much nothing. But since it’s red-white-and-blueish it seemed like a good one to share today. Also, it’s simple and short, and I’m anxious to get out and enjoy the day, as I’m sure everyone is, so I’ll just keep this quick and let the pictures do most of the talking.

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Lately I can’t seem to get enough fresh strawberries, and wanted to try something different with them. Normally I just eat them plain with a little whipped cream or yogurt, but since I discovered this new way of using them I’m sure I’ll be doing this pretty often. For this recipe I used strawberries and blackberries because they’re my favorites, but feel free to use whatever combo of berries you like. I used 3 cups of strawberries and 1 cup of blackberries, and it cooked down to about 2 cups of this yummy, slightly sweet, tangy, amazingly delicious sauce. The only other ingredients were a couple tablespoons of sugar, a pinch of salt, and some lemon zest. Mix it all together and roast at 400 for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice. Done!

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Now go out and enjoy those fireworks and pick up some berries while you’re out so you can make this tomorrow!

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roasted berry sauce
 
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Ingredients
  • 3 cups of sliced strawberries
  • 1 cup of whole blackberries
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • zest of 1 lemon

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place all of the ingredients in a medium casserole dish and stir gently to combine.
  3. Place in preheated oven for 30 minutes, stirring after about 15 minutes.
  4. Serve warm over waffles, pancakes, or ice cream, or chill and stir into yogurt.
  5. Yields about 2 cups of sauce.

 

 

mediterranean pasta salad

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Tonight I was informed by a couple people who I love very much (you know who you are!) that it’s been 3 weeks since I’ve posted anything on my blog..and they were right! Shame on me! My only excuse is that I’m enjoying the summer and have totally lost track of time. Ok, there are more excuses, but that’s the one I’m sticking with. :)

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Summer is my favorite time of year, but also my least favorite time to cook. Yeah, it’s partly the heat that keeps me out of the kitchen in the warmer months, but since I’ve now lost the equivalent of a very tiny adult (officially 97.6 pounds as of today!) the heat really doesn’t bother me nearly as much as it used to. It just seems like time flies faster during the summer, and there always seems to be something to distract me away from elaborate dinners..like sitting on my deck and watching the birds and lightning bugs. So lately dinners around here have been quick and simple, and I’ve been making dishes like this pasta salad that will keep in the fridge for several days, so all I have to do is throw some chicken breasts or burgers on the grill, pull this out of the fridge, and dinner is done. That’s my kind of summer-time cooking!

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If you’re a gardener and you have some tomatoes and cucumbers you need to use up, you have to try this salad. Or if you’re like me and your gardening is limited to a pot of herbs, this is also a way to put that fresh basil and mint to good use. And even if all your produce comes straight from the grocery store, you still need to try this recipe. It’s simple and full of zesty, fresh flavors, and is a meal in itself. And it’s a great way to skip cooking for a couple of days..just be sure to make a big batch because it’s so good you’ll want plenty!

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mediterranean pasta salad
 
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Serves: 8

Ingredients
  • 1 1-pound box of your favorite tubular pasta (bowties and shells work well too)
  • Juice and zest of 2 lemons
  • ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 large cucumber, cut into bite-size pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small container grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ⅓ cup black olives, drained and sliced
  • 1 can of chick peas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • ⅓ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain but do not rinse.
  2. While pasta is cooking, make the dressing by whisking together the lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, and mustard until thoroughly combined. Add the basil and mint to the dressing, and add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, dressing, and remaining ingredients, tossing gently until the dressing is evenly distributed.
  4. If possible, refrigerate overnight, and allow the salad to come to room temperature (about 45 minutes) prior to serving.

 

 

 

confetti couscous

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Couscous has always been one of my favorite go-to side dishes, and it’s especially great for those really hot days since you only heat up the stove long enough to bring the cooking liquid to a boil. Make a big batch and you’ve got leftovers for a couple of days. Better yet, make this confetti couscous and you’ve got a quick and easy side dish to go along with some grilled chicken or fish, or skip the meat and this could be a satisfying vegetarian dinner on it’s own.

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Couscous is OK on it’s own, but it’s just begging to be made into something more interesting, which is where the problems start for me, thanks to the two picky men I share my home with. I love my husband and son more than anything in the world, but l have to confess that I do get tired of catering to their dislike of all things veggie, especially now that I eat a lot less pasta and potatoes and a lot more vegetables. So the other night I decided to be a terrible wife and mom and made what I wanted and told them they’d just have to pick out the stuff they didn’t like or go hungry. Guess I won’t be getting a wife or mom of the year award any time soon!

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Well, if they only knew what they’re missing..this stuff is so good I think I could eat the entire recipe all by myself. I wasn’t quite as terrible to my men as I could have been, though..I made it with the tomatoes and chick peas and set some aside for the guys, then added my grilled veggies to the rest of it so the only thing they had to pick out were a few chunks of tomatoes..oh, those poor, poor mistreated men. And lucky me, because the leftovers have been great for lunch this week, and I don’t have to worry about someone beating me to them. Yes, there is a method to my kitchen madness…

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confetti couscous
 
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So versatile and perfect for those warm days when you don’t feel like cooking. Great as a side dish or as a vegetarian main dish. Use quinoa in place of the couscous to amp up the protein!
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Serves: 4-8

Ingredients
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes and their juice
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated or finely minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup uncooked whole-wheat couscous
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 15.5 ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium zucchini, grilled or steamed
  • 1 medium onion, grilled or steamed

Instructions
  1. In a large sauce pan, bring the tomatoes and water to a boil. Stir in the garlic, salt, couscous, capers, lemon zest and juice. Cover, remove from heat, and allow to sit, covered, for 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the garbanzo beans, zucchini, and onions. Taste for seasoning and add salt, pepper, or additional lemon juice to taste.
  3. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.
  4. Serves 8 as a side dish or 4 as a main dish.

 

banana split yogurt parfait

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Do you love a good banana split, dripping with strawberry, pineapple, and chocolate sauces, topped with lots of whipped cream, nuts, and a couple maraschino cherries? Yum!! Well, big surprise, banana splits and losing weight don’t really go together, so I haven’t had one in probably 2 years. Even when I wasn’t focused on losing weight, I really didn’t eat them that often (I did have a tiny trace of self-control from time to time!), maybe once a summer, so it’s not like I’m depriving myself, I just try to make better choices now.

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Lately I’ve been buying (and eating!) a lot of strawberries and pineapple, and bananas and Greek yogurt are staples in my kitchen just like milk and eggs. So the other night when I was hungry for something sweet (yeah, I confess, that’s every night for me) but wanted something a little more substantial than a bowl of strawberries or a plain banana, I came up this yummy banana split-inspired treat. Oh so good without all the guilt of a traditional banana split. If you’re in a really decadent mood, go ahead and add a little chocolate sauce and whipped cream..I won’t tell!

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Along with eating more fresh fruit, I’m also eating less processed and pre-packaged foods, and one of the changes I’ve made in that department is eating less of the sugar-filled, pre-flavored yogurts that I’d gotten into the habit of eating a couple times a day. Instead, I’ve started making my own yogurt creations using plain Greek yogurt and fresh fruit. I have to admit that it took me a while to get use to plain yogurt, but when you add in a little honey and some naturally-sweet fresh fruit, it is so, so, so much better than the flavored stuff that’s loaded with unnecessary amounts of sugar and who knows what else. If you aren’t crazy about plain yogurt, try the vanilla version.

If you’re also trying to eat a little healthier, but like me, still have cravings for sweet treats like banana splits, I think you’ll enjoy this lightened up and protein-filled alternative. Let me know how you like it!

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banana split yogurt parfait
 
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Author:
Serves: 1

Ingredients
  • ½ cup plain or vanilla nonfat Greek yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon honey
  • 1 small banana, sliced
  • ½ cup fresh strawberries, sliced
  • ¼ cup fresh pineapple chunks
  • 2 teaspoons chopped almonds or your favorite nuts

Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, mix the yogurt and honey until throughly combined.
  2. In an individual ice cream bowl or glass, layer the ingredients in the following order:
  3. half of the banana slices
  4. half of the yogurt
  5. half of the strawberries
  6. half of the pineapple
  7. remaining yogurt
  8. remaining banana, strawberries, and pineapple
  9. Top with the nuts and enjoy!
  10. Optional: Top with a little chocolate syrup and whipped cream