Tahini Salad Dressing

I just tried a great yet simple salad dressing tonight, courtesy of the recipe on the side of Azar’s Tahini Paste. 🙂 Azar’s is a family-owned restaurant in the Hampton Roads area, which sells tahini paste under its own label. I use it for my hummus and now, apparently, my salad dressing!

Tahini Salad Dressing
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp. red Hawaiian sea salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini paste
1/4 cup water

1. In a food processor, finely mince the garlic. Add the lemon juice, tahini paste, water, and salt and run the food processor until well-blended. Adjust the seasonings to taste.

2. Serve on salad. Pairs esp. well with chicken served on salad. Enjoy!

Variations: Add cracked pepper to the dressing. Or try adding spices from my hummus–I’m considering cayenne, Aleppo red pepper, cumin, Smoked Spanish Paprika, though not all at once!

 

© Elizabeth Taylor – 2011

Sweet and Spicy broccoli for snack or light lunch!

I tried out this combination last night for dinner and was surprised how good the cooked broccoli could taste with a sweet and spicy blend. I cooked the broccoli in the microwave then added Trader Joe’s Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, Penzeys Aleppo Pepper (Turkey), red Hawaiian sea salt, and fresh ground black pepper. I tossed with a fork and it was done!

Sweet and Spicy Broccoli

Prep Time: 1 min
Cook time: 5 min
Special Equipment: Pampered Chef veggie steamer for microwave OR bowl w/ Cling Wrap

Ingredients:
10 oz. broccoli, e.g., Bird’s Eye box of broccoli
1/2 Tbsp. Trader Joe’s Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
Sprinkle to taste of Penzeys Aleppo Pepper (Turkey)
Pinch of red Hawaiian Sea Salt to taste
2-3 grinds of black pepper

1. Cook broccoli according to package instructions, about 5 minutes.
2. When cooked, drain off the water.
3. Sprinkle the remaining ingredients over the broccoli.
4. Toss, serve, and enjoy!

Final Weigh-In for New Year, New You Contest!

Great news! According to the final weigh-in at the gym, I am down 16 lbs since I started the healthy lifestyle contest. Even better, my work clothes fit so much better. Instead of feeling uncomfortably tight, they are now comfortably loose. I think I have made permanent/long term change to my eating strategy. I just need to continue to eat more veggies and lean meat and lift weights more.

Here are some other things I noticed: My hair seems to be growing faster; I’m in a better mood overall; I am less sleepy than old Beth; and I’m loving to cook the new recipes. Very exciting and exhilarating tweaking a recipe, esp. when it’s for company and it’s brand new.

I’m so excited to be on a new, healthy food track!

Lebanese Stuffed Grape Leaves

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Talk about a fun girls night! My girlfriends and I just learned hands-on how to make entree-style Lebanese Stuffed Grape Leaves from our friend, Rafah. Rafah did all the research, contacting her aunt in Lebanon to find out how to make the stuffed grape leaves start to finish. Then Rafah guided us through the process of prepping the ground beef and basmati rice filling, rinsing the grape leaves, stuffing and filling the leaves, placing the stuffed leaves in the stockpot, and simmering the dish in a mixture of tomato paste and water for an hour.

When I tasted the first stuffed grape leaf, I was amazed at the flavor and texture! Who knew such simple ingredients could create such a delicious and intriguing main course! The grape leaves added a tangy yet complex flavor almost reminding me of coffee. We dipped the stuffed leaves into Greek yogurt and enjoyed.

I loved making and eating the stuffed leaves so much that I wanted to make them again while the memory of the process was fresh in my mind. I served them at a recent dinner with a different group of friends. I made a few changes while prepping though I kept the basic process Rafah had taught us. I learned that I far prefer the flavor and texture of 90% lean ground beef that we originally used to the 96% lean that I tried. I’m considering trying 94% lean next time to try to balance out the saturated fat intake with the flavor considerations.

Both times we chose basmati rice for its low glycemic index relative to other rices. For spices, Rafah added allspice, salt, and pepper. I added these and also tried a little cinnamon and nutmeg. If I had had my Lebanese mixed spice with me, I would have tried adding it plus the salt and pepper. When we were eating the leaves, Rafah mentioned that they should be more lemony. To try to compensate, I added about 2 Tbsp. of lemon juice to the meat and rice filling. I’m not convinced that this helped. Next time, I think a splash of lemon juice on the cooked packets would offer a sharper flavor contrast. Serving lemon wedges or slices at the table would be a nice touch.

I also tried a different technique for placing the stuffed leaved in the pot. Rafah’s technique had us make small pyramids out of the leaf packets and tie them with thread. Then these packets were placed in the stockpot lined with grape leaves. For my version, I kept the grape leaf lining to prevent the packets from burning. Then I packed the leaf cylinders tightly in layers in the pan. The cookbook I referenced said to put a plate upside down over the grape leaves, presumably to keep them pressed down during the simmering process without tying them in pyramids. I didn’t want to risk one of my white plates to an hour of simmering in a red sauce so I used a slightly smaller pot lid to press down on the packet layers.

Lastly, I paired the Stuffed Grape Leaves with a Pennsylvania Cabernet Franc, 2008, from Pinnacle Ridge on the Lehigh Valley Trail. Excellent match! I’ve generally found that VA and PA Cabernet Francs have the perfect body and vegetal flavor profile to pair beautifully with vegetable dishes.

Lebanese Stuffed Grape Leaves

Special equipment: Large bowl, colander or strainer, stockpot with lid, thread (optional) or plate/pot lid that fits inside of the stock pot

1.25 lb. 90% lean ground beef, raw
1.25 cups basmati rice, uncooked
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. to 1 tsp. allspice
Dash of Vietnamese cinnamon (optional)
Dash of nutmeg (optional)
1/2 tsp. to 1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 16 oz. (drained) jar grape leaves
1 16 oz. can of tomato paste
1 lemon, sliced into wedges

1. Soak the basmati rice in water for 10-20 minutes after rinsing. Meanwhile, rinse each grape leaf and allow to drain in a colander or strainer.

2. Mix equal portions of the beef and rice together with your hands until well-incorporated. You may have leftover of one of these two ingredients. Add the olive oil, spices, salt, and pepper and mix in with your hands.

3. Set up a prep station for folding the grape leaves (in front of the TV or with friends makes this part much more fun!). My station includes the stockpot, the colander full of grape leaves, the bowl of meat and rice stuffing, and wax paper for a work surface and for placing folded packets.

4. To make a packet, take a grape leaf, cut or tear off the stem, and place vein side up (shiny side down). Take 1-2 tsp. of the meat and rice stuffing and place it in the center of the leaf, in line with the vein extending from the stem. Shape the rice into a log with a pointy top. Do not overfill the leaf; there should be ample leaf left along the center vein to almost completely cover the meat when folded. Fold the pointy tip of the leaf over the meat and fold the bottom of the leaf (the side with the stem) over the meat. Holding down these sections, take the side of the leaf and wrap it over the meat mixture, pressing it down on the other side. Roll the mostly-wrapped meat section toward the other side of the leaf until meat mixture is completely wrapped. Set packet aside on the wax paper, seam side down and repeat until all the meat mixture is gone.

5. While stuffing the grape leaves, take note of grape leaves that appear less attractive or more delicate than others. Use these to line the bottom of the stockpot to prevent the packets from burning.

6. Carefully arrange the packets on the grape-leaf lined stockpot, packing them tightly. For the next layer, alternate the direction of the packets. Continue to layer until the packets are gone.

7. Mix tomato paste with water until you have enough liquid to completely cover the grape leaves and the tomato paste is completely dissolved.

8. Place the smaller pot lid or plate on top of the packets to keep them in place during simmering.

9. Pour the tomato paste mixture over the packets, ensuring they are all covered and adding 1-2 inches extra liquid to allow for some evaporation.

10. Bring to a boil on the stove top and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for about 1 hour, checking after 45 minutes for doneness and to see if more liquid is needed. Packets are done when the rice is cooked (soft) and meat is brown.

11. When done, remove pot from heat and serve the stuffed grape leaves warm with the cooked-down tomato paste mixture on top. Serve with lemon wedges and Greek yogurt.

I love braises!

Okay, so I’m about to share the Lamb & Dried Bean Stew recipe that I made for my Lebanese dinner party. It took me awhile to type it up and get it to you, because I wanted to get in all the attention to detail that I use to create the dish.

For me, a braise or a stew is a work of art and, dare I say it, an act of love. It creates amazing depth of flavor through careful browning, slow simmering, and intuition-led adjusting of seasonings/acidity/sweetness at the end of the cooking process. In all, braises/stews are my favorite types of meals to cook for company. They fill the home with mouth-watering aromas and the whole process is therapeutic for me. And, of course, my friends love the food!

With a braise, I love to serve a rich red wine such as Syrah, Zinfandel, or a big Cabernet Sauvignon. The tannins in the wine and the slightly higher alcohol levels (at least for New World wines) balance well with the intensity, flavor, and depth of the braise. Also tomato-based dishes just scream red wine to me. For a more Old World style wine, I’d recommend Chianti Classico Riserva, a Priorat from Spain, or a Cote-du-Rhone.

I hope you will come to love cooking and eating braises and stews as much as I do! Now for the recipe, including plenty of techniques to take with you to other braises/stews.

Lamb and Dried Bean Stew


Special equipment: 8 quart soup pot, bouillabaisse pot, French oven, or heavy bottomed stock pot; Pressure cooker or pot for cooking dried beans or use canned beans; sauté pan/frying pan or Le Creuset 3.5 qt casserole pan; tongs

Prep time: 40 min to pressure cook beans (can be concurrent); 2 hours to prep stew; Cooking time: 2-2.5 hours

Ingredients

2 lbs dry white beans (Great Northern)
6 large onions, diced, divided
9 cloves garlic, minced
4 lbs leg of lamb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes by butcher
ÂĽ cup olive oil, divided
2 28 oz cans tomatoes, petite-diced, diced, or whole tomatoes crushed between fingers
12 Tbsp. tomato paste
Kosher salt to taste
Black pepper, freshly ground, to taste
1 Tbsp. Lebanese mixed spices (recipe to follow), more to taste as desired

1. Following the directions for your pressure cooker, cook the 2 lbs dry white beans. In the Cuisinart Pressure Cooker, I cooked the beans for 25 minutes and used the natural pressure release. Alternatively, cook on the stove top (I haven’t done this, so I can’t give you the details). Another option is to use canned beans—I estimate about 5-6 cans of Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained.

2. Place both the soup pot (or alternate) and the sauté pan on two front burners. The soup pot should be on a medium heat while the sauté pan will be a medium high heat. The soup pot will be used for sautéing the onions and garlic while the sauté pan will be used for browning the lamb.

3. After you feel a good heat rising, add 1 tsp. olive oil to the soup pot, rotating the pot to cover the bottom in oil. Add about 1/3 of the onions to the pot, stirring to cover with the oil and transfer the heat. Stir occasionally. When the first batch of onions is soft and has just a bit of color developing, transfer to the holding dish. Repeat from the beginning of this step until all onions are cooked except for three handfuls to use to deglaze the lamb sauté pan.

4. After the onions are cooked, add 1 tsp. olive oil to the heated soup pot to cover the bottom. Then add all the garlic to the pot, stirring continuously. Cook for about 1 minute until you can smell the garlic and the garlic is golden brown. Do not let the garlic burn. Remove to the holding dish immediately.

5. Meanwhile, dry the lamb cubes with paper towels. When you feel a good heat rising from the sauté pan, add 1 tsp. olive oil and rotate the pan to cover the bottom in oil. Add the lamb cubes, one-by-one, leaving at least an inch between cubes in the pan. If the pan is overcrowded, the lamb will steam instead of brown. When the first side is browned, use tongs to turn the lamb cubes over. When nicely browned, turn the lamb cubes to get a light browning on the other four sides. These sides will not take as long to brown, so watch carefully. When the first batch is browned, transfer to a holding dish. To remove the browned bits and retain their flavors, add ½ tsp olive oil to cover and throw in a handful of diced onions and sauté until onions are done and have removed most of the browned bits from the bottom. Transfer onions to the holding dish. Repeat from the beginning of the step, ensuring the lamb cubes are still dry, until all lamb cubes are browned.

6. To get the last of the lamb bits out of the pan, add the juices of one can of tomatoes, stirring to work the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Allow the tomato juice to reduce slightly, creating a richer tomato juice base flavored with lamb. When done, turn off the burner for the sauté pan.

7. At this point all lamb, onions, and garlic have been browned/cooked. Add the tomato paste to the Soup Pot. Sauté for 1 to 2 minutes to add complexity. Then return the lamb, onions, and garlic to the Soup Pot. Add the reduced tomato juice, the canned tomatoes, two pinches of salt, a tsp. of pepper, and the mixed spices. Stir to combine and cook for about five minutes.

8. Add the cooked Great Northern beans until the pot is nearly full or the beans are gone (I used a 7 ÂĽ quart pot and had about 2 cups of beans left).

9. Add just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat, cover and simmer until the lamb is fork-tender, about 2 to 2.5 hours.

10. Adjust seasonings to taste, including salt, pepper, and mixed spices.

11. Serve and enjoy!

Lebanese Mixed Spices

Combine equal parts of the following:
Allspice
Black pepper
Cinnamon
Cloves
Nutmeg
Fenugreek (You can substitute fennel seed if necessary)
Ginger

1. If any of the spices are whole, grind through a spice grinder, coffee grinder, or coffee burr grinder on the finest setting or use a mortar and pestle to grind as finely as possible (not ideal).

2. Store in an airtight container. Used in many Lebanese dishes.

Lebanese-themed dinner party a hit!

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Okay, so I have a recipe for a Lamb and Bean Stew I really want to share with you all, but I don’t have the time to type it up yet. But I wanted to whet your appetites. 🙂

This past weekend I hosted a Lebanese-themed dinner party. Believe it or not, the entire meal was low glycemic (except the wine, of course)!

Mezze

For Mezze, I made hummus and tzatziki, served with a vegetable assortment and whole wheat pita that one of my guests brought. Another friend made tabbouleh salad that we served with lettuce leaves to eat almost like a taco during Mezze. I also had out a Greek olive assortment.

We then moved on to a beautiful, guest-created salad with a bed of mixed greens and spinach topped with oven-roasted veggies, including bell peppers and zucchini, and feta cheese. I topped my salad with some of the tzatziki rather than the lite balsamic vinaigrette. Delicious!

Main Course

Now for the main course: Lamb and Bean Stew. It was absolutely amazing–I really think it’s the best lamb I’ve ever tasted! The lamb melted in my mouth and had so much flavor. The beans and tomatoes had an intense yet satisfying flavor, resulting from the slow stove top cooking of the stew. A Lebanese “mixed-spice” blend added richness, complexity, and the “wow!” factor, all from spices I normally keep in my spice cupboard. Overall, the flavors, perfectly melded, surprised and excited the palate because they were not a standard American combination. Everyone loved it!

Wine pairings

During Mezze, we opened wine that people had brought, including a Zinfandel, a light white blend, a Chardonnay, and a Moscato D’Asti (I had to put some strawberries out to pair with that!). After I finished kitchen prep, I had time to find some excellent pairings.

Still during Mezze, I opened a 2008 Pinnacle Ridge Cabernet Franc from the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania. I’ve found that Cabernet Franc tends to pair perfectly with vegetables. This particular Cab Franc is my favorite Pennsylvania wine right now and the primary reason I visited Pinnacle Ridge on a recent trip to PA. We also opened a gorgeous 2000 Spanish wine, a blend of Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet, which a wine-loving friend brought. Complex yet smooth, this wine paired beautifully with Mezze and the main course.

To pair with the lamb stew, I opened a 2005 Holdridge Syrah from Russian River Valley in Sonoma County. I purchased this wine in 2006 and have cellared it since. The rich flavors of the Syrah held up to the intense, meaty flavors of the stew.

Dessert

For dessert, a guest brought low-fat, plain Cabot Creamery yogurt, which we topped with honey and toasted walnuts. I used agave nectar instead of honey due to its low glycemic index. Delicious!

Photos are courtesy of Emil Chuck.

Progress!

Since I started my low-glycemic diet with The Energy Club 2.5 weeks ago, I can tell that I’m losing weight and inches. My work pants fit just a bit looser. Just last Friday I fit into the jeans I bought last summer but couldn’t reasonably fit into after Christmas. As of last Wednesday, I’ve even lost five lbs according to the “official” gym weigh-ins. That’s a really good feeling.

The low-glycemic diet is working better for me than I ever would have thought. I really don’t get the same types of hunger pangs or blood sugar lows that make me feel like I’m about to scream. I haven’t experienced my typical morning and afternoon low points that I had attributed to Circadian Rhythms. I’ve been waking up more refreshed and ready to accomplish something during the day.

I’ve started to figure out what kind of schedule I need to have to eat healthy, yummy food all week.

Sunday I need to do my wholesale club shopping to buy my fruits and veggies for the week. Sunday night and Monday night I make my healthy high protein, high veggie content entrée for the week. So far it’s been the Turkey Bean Chili and then another soup last week, Black Bean, Sweet Potato, & Italian Turkey Sausage. I made the “Italian Turkey Sausage” on Sunday night and the soup that used it on Monday night after the gym. Unfortunately, the soup this week wasn’t as stellar as the chili experiment, though I know how I’d tweak it if I made it again. I’d ditch the Italian sausage and replace it with either a chorizo style sausage (preferably turkey based for lower fat content) or more beans, like kidney beans. The Italian seasonings in the turkey completely conflicted with the other spices and the sweet potatoes.

I make hummus once or twice a week and that helps with the protein and veggie categories because I eat hummus with veggies. Keeping my food processor clean is essential!

Next up on my “must-have list” is nonfat plain Greek yogurt from BJs. I’m loving it with Penzeys Baking Spice, a pinch of sea salt, Splenda, a sprinkle of flax-seed meal, and fresh fruit for breakfast or a snack anytime of the day. The Greek yogurt is super-high in protein, has no fat, and minimal sugars that are naturally occurring in milk products.

Each night I roast two ounces of almonds for the next day with whatever type of seasoning I’m in the mood for. This past week I tried Vietnamese Cinnamon, Mace, Cayenne, and kosher salt because I was craving the sweet spice smell of the cinnamon. A bonus: the house smells like I just baked! I snack on the almonds mainly in the afternoon and just before I head to the gym but occasionally I add a few to my yogurt and fruit for some crunch.

And I pack most of my lunch into sandwich bags the night before ready to throw in my huge Trader Joe’s insulated grocery bag. I pack the almonds in the morning so they don’t melt the baggie—yes, I learned the hard way!

And my new love as of last week? Red and Ruby Red Grapefruit! It’s part of my new breakfast routine on days I don’t feel like making or eating an omelet. I cut it in half and eat it at my desk at work topped with a little Splenda and flaxseed meal to add texture and healthy Omega-3s and to soak up the spraying juices so I can keep my work clothes clean. This is so simple it barely warrants a recipe, but it’s so delicious and healthy that I want to share it anyway!

Grapefruit for Breakfast


Special equipment to eat at work: Butter knife, grapefruit spoon, plate or bowl, plenty of napkins/paper towels
Prep time: 2 minutes Eat time: easily 10-15 minutes

Ingredients
1 red or ruby red grapefruit
1 packet Splenda
2 Tbsp. flaxseed meal (optional)

1. Using a knife, slice the grapefruit in half on a plate, making sure you have paper towels in your lap if at work. If using the butter knife at work, the slice will be messy. Use a Chef’s knife at home if you want it to look picture perfect.

2. Sprinkle half a packet of Splenda on each side of the grapefruit. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp. flaxseed meal on each side.

3. Using the grapefruit spoon, press the flaxseed meal into the grapefruit to absorb juices to flavor the flaxseed meal and to minimize spray.

4. Eat with the grapefruit spoon and enjoy the leisurely, instant gratification breakfast!

 

Takeout Menu for Low Glycemic Index Foods

Okay, so I know I haven’t posted much in the past week… But that’s because I’ve been working to create and refine a menu of healthy, low glycemic index foods broken down by categories: veggies, fruit, beans & grains, lean protein, and healthy fats. When Michelle, the nutritionist, first presented the multiple lists of low GI foods, it was overwhelming. She issued me a challenge: find a way to understand the information so that I could apply it.

And off I went to meet the challenge head-on. I synthesized data received directly from Michelle along with handouts from two books she used as reference. I placed the data in a “take-out menu” design so that it looked fun and it would be easy to take with me to the grocery store or out to eat.

Here’s the targets that Michelle gave us: 55% complex carbs, 27% protein, 18% fat by calories. By plate portion, shoot for 1/2 veggies, 1/6 lean protein, 1/6 fruit, 1/6 grain. As far as I can tell, it’s fine to substitute more fruits & veggies for the grain section. Also, I tend to eat a fair amount of beans and lentils, which qualify as both a lean protein and a complex carb, so I get to use 1/3 of the plate for the bean dish. 🙂 Think hummus & veggies or yogurt and berries w/ flax seed meal.

So here’s the low glycemic menu for all to enjoy! I hope you find it as helpful as I have!

Low Glycemic Takeout Menu

Click here for the .pdf file:

https://zindiva.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/low-glycemic-menu-zindiva_21feb20111.pdf

 

Sweet potatoes for dinner

“Yum, yum, yum,” I think to myself as I eat my baked sweet potatoes, seasoned two ways.

I needed a quick, healthy dinner before heading to my friend’s birthday party. So I baked up 2 sweet potatoes at 425 degrees for 45 min to an hour. I decided just to eat one for now and save the other for later.

I wanted to see if I could enjoy sweet potatoes without the added olive oil, butter or sugar of my traditional toppings. So I topped each half with red Hawaiian sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. On the first half I sprinkled Penzeys Baking Spice. On the second half I sprinkled Penzeys Vietnamese Cinnamon. No added fat except the 1/2 tsp. olive oil I rubbed on the outside of each potato prior to cooking and wrapping in aluminum foil.

The verdict for which version I liked better–Baking Spice or Cinnamon: Baking Spice wins by just a hair. I love them both, and I don’t miss the butter and brown sugar or the extra olive oil. Hurray!

Here’s how to make such healthy yumminess at home:

Baked Sweet Potatoes


Special equipment: Aluminum foil, baking sheet (any size)
Time: 1 hr; Prep Time: 5 min; Baking time: 45 to 60 min

Ingredients for each Sweet Potato
1 Sweet Potato
1/2 tsp. olive oil
Dash of Kosher Salt
Black Pepper, freshly ground, to taste
Red Hawaiian Sea Salt, to taste
Penzeys Baking Spice, to taste
Penzeys Vietnamese Cinnamon, to taste

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 425 °F.
2. Wash each potato and dry. Do not prick. Place potato on sheet of aluminum foil. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp. olive oil on potato, rubbing with hands to completely coat. Sprinkle a dash of kosher salt on both top and bottom of potato. Wrap in aluminum foil.
3. Place potato on baking sheet (this prevents the leaking sweet juices from burning on the bottom of the oven and setting off the smoke alarm). Bake in oven for 45 to 60 min until potato is soft when squeezed with gentle pressure with pot holder.
4. Serve potato with last four ingredients, choosing Baking Spice for one side and Cinnamon for the other. Enjoy!

 

New Year, New You Resolution Challenge: Turkey Bean Chili

Okay. So I signed up for the “New Year, New You” Resolution Challenge at The Energy Club in Arlington to help me lose weight and improve my fitness. Michelle, the nutritionist with the gym, has provided suggested menus both for the “detox week” and to follow. She recommends we add 4-6 oz of lean protein per meal for the detox week that otherwise has low-glycemic index fruits and vegetables, herbal tea, and warm lemon water. Of course, the first thing out of her mouth for the protein was cooking a tray of chicken breasts for the week and then she’s good to go.

I silently balked at the thought of dry, flavorless baked chicken breasts. I knew I could come up with just as healthy but more interesting “lean protein” than that. It’s definitely winter here in DC, so chili was a good candidate with beans and chicken or turkey. So I went to BJs to see what I could find. Ground turkey caught my eye. I looked at the nutrition facts–not exactly super lean at 93% lean, 7% fat, but it’s 1/3 fewer calories than the neighboring ground beef. So I grab the ground turkey.

Now ground meat can get pretty chewy in a pressure cooker if it’s just broken apart and lightly browned, so I took a different tack. I cut the tray of ground turkey into 1-inch cubes, so that I could add flavor and retain texture by browning the meat on at least 2 sides. Then the inside of the cubes would cook in the Pressure Cooker.

The other challenge: Michelle says to sauté in only 1 tsp. of olive oil rather than the, um, generous amount of olive oil I normally use. So the recipe that follows does just that. I use 1 tsp. olive oil for each browning or sautéing iteration. The onions suffered the most, I think, with this treatment, more steaming than sautéing; but they were going in the Pressure Cooker Pot not directly on a plate so I gave in for the sake of health.

I was incredibly pleased with the result: flavorful chili with tender turkey chunks and satisfying beans throughout. And I made enough for the entire week and then some. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

Bon appétit!

ZinDiva’s Turkey Bean Chili


Total Time: 3 hours; Active: 2 hours; Passive: 1 hour (2-3 hr for Variation 2)
Equipment: Large sauté pan, Pressure cooker (or 5.5 quart French oven for Variation 2)

3 lbs ground turkey, cut into 1-inch cubes
6-9 Tbsp. Penzey’s Chili Con Carne seasoning, separated
1 can low sodium chicken broth
4 onions, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-oz can whole tomatoes, crushed between fingers, w/ juices reserved
2 16-oz cans tomato sauce
2 cans kidney beans
1 can pinto beans
1 yellow bell pepper, seeds & membranes removed, cut into 1-inch squares
1 tsp. to 1 Tbsp. Penzey’s Red Aleppo Pepper Flakes, to taste
Kosher Salt
Pepper
Olive oil
Garnishes: Green onions, cheddar cheese, sour cream/nonfat plain Greek yogurt

1. Preheat large skillet over a medium-high heat (medium for Le Creuset enameled cast iron). When pan is hot, add 1 tsp. Olive Oil to pan, spreading oil with a paper towel to evenly coat.

2. Brown the turkey cubes in batches on at least two opposite sides, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. When turkey is browned, sprinkle 2-3 Tbsp. Penzy’s Chili Con Carne seasoning over the turkey. Toss the turkey lightly in the pan to coat the turkey. Remove turkey cubes and loose browned bits to the pressure cooker vessel (hereafter referred to as the pot).

3. Deglaze the pot with ÂĽ cup of chicken broth, working to remove browned bits and seasonings. Allow the chicken broth to boil down slightly to concentrate flavors. Add to the pot. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel.

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until turkey is gone. After browning and removing the last batch, add the reserved tomato juice to the pan instead of chicken broth, reducing to make a bit of a sauce. Add to the pot.

5. Repeat step 1. Then sauté the onions, sprinkling with salt to taste (about ¼ to ½ tsp), until onions are translucent. Add to pressure cooker vessel.

7. Repeat step 1. Sauté the garlic for about 1 minute until lightly fragrant but not burnt. Add to pot.

8. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, beans, bell pepper squares, red pepper flakes, ½ tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. pepper to the pot.

9. Stir ingredients well with large spoon.

10. Place the pot in the pressure cooker and follow the manufacturer directions. (Some Pressure Cookers require 1 Tbsp. oil floating on top so that the beans do not foam and clog the valves.) Cook on High Pressure for 20 minutes and then use natural steam release to blend the flavors. It may take 45 min to 1 hour to heat, cook, and release steam.

11. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with garnishes as desired. Makes 16 cups, about 8 main dish servings.

Variation 1: Replace 1 can of tomato sauce with 1 can broth or beer.

Variation 2: If you do not own a pressure cooker, add ingredients to 5.5 qt French oven and bring to a boil on the stove top. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 hours until turkey is cooked and tender, bell pepper is tender but not soggy, and flavors are blended. More liquid may be needed due to evaporation. Add chicken broth or beer as needed.