A Recipe Makeover

This week’s assignment for my Cooking Lab, ‘Cooking with Whole Foods’ was to makeover a recipe of my choice and turn it into a healthier version, explaining my rationale. We are not allowed to use an actual recipe for our makeover dish, so you have to do your best to come up with a recipe of your own. I chose to makeover the ‘nom nom burger’.

Original Dish

Nom, Nom Burger from Holstien’s

Nom Nom Burger w Descr.

INGREDIENTS and COOKING METHOD (Taken from their menu or estimated)

  • Kobe Beef (Broiled)
  • Cheddar Cheese (Melted)
  • Thousand Island Dressing (Mayonnaise, Egg, Cream, Ketchup, Mustard, Worcestershire Sauce, Lemon Juice, Paprika, Vinegar)
  • Potato Chips (Deep Fried and served inside the bun)
  • Bun


  • French Fries (White Potatoes Deep Fried)
  • Onion Rings (Deep Fried)
Here is my Recipe makeover. I tested it out and it turned out pretty darned well and made for a tasty meal! One of the things that the instructor emphasized in class, is that all recipes are really just a template. You can substitute ingredients based on what you have available in the pantry or refrigerator, to work around food allergies or intolerances, or simply because you like another ingredient better. A recipe is just a guide, so if you fancy giving these a try, feel free to switch out any of the ingredients you like. You could use a different bean or use a variety of beans. You could try some different veggies or put a different twist on the flavor with your favorite spices. Have fun and be creative!

Chickpea & Veggie Burger

Version 2


CHICKPEA BURGER (Replaces Kobe Beef Burger) Makes 6 -8 Burgers)

  • 1 cup dried Chickpeas (Washed and Sorted, Soaked Overnight and Cooked with Kombu (to improve digestibility)
  • 1-2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion, medium dice (sautéed in olive oil)
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • Salt, two pinches
  • 1 tsp Cumin, 1 tsp Cardamom and ½ tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 Roasted Red Pepper, fine dice (roasted in oven, skin removed)
  • 10 Sundried Tomatoes, diced (rehydrated)
  • 4 Carrots, grated
  • 3 tablespoons of flaxseed to ½ cup of water OR 1 egg
  • Parsley, minced ¼ cup
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut Oil
Version 2 Version 2 Add chickpeas to food processor and pulse, retaining some texture. In a large bowl mix the chickpeas, carrots, roasted red pepper, sundried tomatoes, parsley, flaxseed mix (or egg). Heat the oil in a sauté pan, add the onion and a pinch of salt, stir well. Sweat the onions, add the garlic, cumin, cardamom and chili powder to release flavor. Add to bowl with rest of the ingredients. Mix well. Form patties by hand. Heat the coconut oil in a sauté pan and add the burger patties. Cook for approx. 3 minutes each side.

SWEET POTATO FRIES - BAKED (Replaces French Fries)

  • 1-2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Sweet Potatoes, ¼ inch baton shape
  • Salt, pinch
  • Paprika, ½ teaspoon
  • Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper, add olive oil. Add sweet potatoes and coat with oil. Sprinkle with salt and paprika. Bake in the oven (400 degrees for approx. 20 minutes).

SWISS CHARD (Replaces Onion Rings)

  • 1 bunch Swiss Chard, chiffonade
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 1-2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • Salt, pinch
Heat the oil in a sauté pan, add the onion and a pinch of salt, stir well. Sweat the onion until translucent. Add the Swiss chard and a small amount of water, simmer with the lid on until Swiss chard is tender. Season with lemon juice and add more salt if needed.

AVOCADO DRESSING (Replaces Thousand Island Dressing)

  • 1 Avocado
  • Garlic Powder, ¼ tsp
  • Lemon Juice
  • Add the avocado, garlic powder and lemon juice to a food processor. Process till smooth and creamy.
Version 2 I chose to makeover the burger with chickpeas because according to Jukanti, Gaur, Gowda and Chibbar (2012) they are an excellent source of carbohydrates, protein and fiber and their protein quality is deemed superior than that of other pulses. In addition, they state that chickpeas are a great source of unsaturated fatty acids such as linoleic and oleic acids, giving them a variety of potential health benefits, including potentially positive effects on diseases like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. This high fiber heart-healthy food is an excellent substitute for the high calorie, high saturated fat content of the Kobe beef. In addition, the burger has the added benefit of three vegetables high in carotenoid antioxidants (the carrots, red pepper and tomatoes). Johnson (2002) explains the many health benefits offered by dietary carotenoids, including decreased risk of various diseases including cancer and eye disease. Wittenberg (2013) talks about the importance of having the right type of fat in your diet for ideal health, like the healthy mono-unsaturated fat found in avocado, in addition to reducing your intake of saturated fats like those found in thousand island dressing, making this a healthy switch. The baked sweet potato fries are a healthier alternative to the deep fried restaurant version. I chose to replace the deep fried onion rings with the beautiful and nutritious Swiss chard. Wittenberg (2013) explains that chard is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family known for it’s immune boosting, disease-fighting abilities. Swiss chard’s rich colors are packed with health promoting phytonutrients, Wittenberg (2008). Including vegetables in the burger and as a topping also helps a person easily increase the amount of servings per day they are consuming. This recipe utilizes a variety of real, whole foods, herbs and spices using healthy methods of preparation. It is a more nutritious, health supporting, balanced meal and yet still satisfies a person’s craving for a burger, fries and a creamy topping. Please let me know if you try out this recipe and what substitutions or changes you make. Maybe you already have a recipe you’ve made over in some way that you’d like to share. We’d love to hear! email_signoff1
Please let me know if you try out this recipe and what substitutions or changes you make. Maybe you already have a recipe you’ve made over in some way that you’d like to share. We’d love to hear!
Johnson, E. J. (2002), The Role of Carotenoids in Human Health. Nutrition in Clinical Care, 5: 56–65. http://doi.org/10.1046/j.1523-5408.2002.00004.x
Jukanti, K., Gaur, P.M., Gowda, C.L.L. and Chibbar, R.N. (2012). Nutritional quality and health benefits of chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.): a review. British Journal of Nutrition, 108, pp S11-S26. http://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114512000797
Wittenberg, M. (2008). New Good Food: Shopper’s Pocket Guide to Organic, Sustainable, and Seasonal Whole Foods, pp 11. New York: Ten Speed Press. ISBN 978-1580088930
Wittenberg, M.M. (2013). The Essential Good Food Guide: The Complete Resource for Buying and Using Whole Grains and Specialty Flours, Heirloom Fruits and Vegetables, Meat and Poultry, Seafood and More, pp 24-25, pp 217-219. New York: Ten Speed Press.
ISBN 978-1607744344

Pass the Dish

With Thanksgiving just a couple of days away, the holiday season is truly upon us! Of course this means the season of eating is also upon us!
Sharing a meal with family or friends during the holidays is what it’s really all about but for some of us, it can be tricky. The most important part of all these events is just being with those you love and the food is very much secondary.
However, these gatherings can be a source of stress for some and we need to be mindful of this. Someone might be trying hard to lose or maintain their weight. Someone else may have a food intolerance or allergy. Some may have emotional issues around food. Whatever the reason, just being thoughtful and aware can make all the difference. The last thing you want is conflict at the table during a holiday gathering. This is no time to force food on those who don’t want it, or to preach your way of eating to others. The holiday table is no place to get riled up or judge-y. Here are a few things to think about as you navigate the holiday eating season!

Be true to you!

If you have a particular way of eating for health or ethical reasons, you’re vegetarian or perhaps have a food intolerance or whatever it might be, don’t feel pressured to eat all the wrong things for you just to make others happy. You are the one who has to live with the consequences of this.

You’re not eating for someone else, you’re eating for yourself.

For example, I have a dairy intolerance. If I eat dairy I am not going to feel good later, not to mention that I know that eating food my body doesn’t tolerate has long-term health consequences, so why would I do it? Some people may not be familiar with food intolerances and allergies and so may push food not fully understanding how they work. They may think “oh it’s just one piece of pie with ice cream, what harm can it do”?

Kindly, but firmly pass!

Plan ahead.

To avoid confusion and stress, be upfront and let your host, family or friends know about your eating needs in advance and explain what you’re about. You don’t want to show up and throw your host into a tizzy wondering what they’ll feed you. Also, they may not know where to begin cooking for you, so offer to bring a dish or two, so you know there will be things you can enjoy. If you’re staying at the home of your host, arrive with ingredients in hand, or hit their local grocery store when you get to town. Make sure you have enough to share, and who knows, maybe you’ll introduce people to something new and delicious! Maybe you’ll even create a new tradition?!

Set your intention.

Thinking all this through before the event and setting your intention will help you stay on track. For example, what will you eat? How much you will eat? Seconds, or no seconds? Will you have dessert or not?

No, means NO!

Let’s say you’re working on maintaining or losing weight, you don’t want to derail all your efforts because you feel pressured or you’re not prepared. If you have a plan going in you are much more likely to be successful. Don’t make a big deal out of it either, just take what you want in the quantities you’re comfortable with and pass the dish to the next person. Also don’t be afraid to pass a dish without taking any. Most of the time people are so busy they’ll hardly notice this. If someone does bring it up, be ready with an answer, such as “I’m not eating {fill in the blank} at the moment” or “I’m saving room for more vegetables” or “I’m watching what I eat, but thank you”.

Stand up for yourself and your body!

Know yourself.

If will power is a problem for you, again, you need to plan for it. Let’s use dessert as an example. If you’re someone who can have one taste and stop, then do it. However, if you’re someone who has one taste and then before you know it, the whole slice is gone, then you need a diversion. At dessert time, plan to have a cup of tea or coffee and a small piece of dark chocolate. This way you’ll feel you’re still part of the celebration and won’t be sitting twiddling your thumbs while everyone else is on their 3rd slice of pie!

Beyond the event.

I think it’s so important to think past this dinner or event. Think about the next morning. If you stay true to you, you will wake up feeling fabulous, healthy and proud. You won’t wake up still feeling as stuffed as the turkey from the night before, sluggish and worst of all disappointed in yourself or guilty :(


Sometimes, despite our best intentions, things go awry. DO NOT beat yourself up about this!! Be kind to yourself, look back at where things went off course and learn for the next time.

Love is fuel.

The MOST important thing is to savor the time with your loved ones. Fill yourself with joy and love and you won’t need to worry about filling yourself with food.
A “quick tip” if you are working on weight management ~ eat your veggies first. They’ll fill you up, nourish you wonderfully and you will be less likely to over indulge in the other higher calorie foods.
You know I’m all about vegetables, so I thought I’d include some fantastic recipes for the season.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts Cinnamon Butternut Squash, Pecans, and Cranberries

This is a delicious and beautiful holiday dish from Julia at Julia’s Album www.juliasalbum.com. You’ll find lots of other fabulous recipes on her website, geared towards busy people who want to eat well without spending tons of time in the kitchen! http://juliasalbum.com/2015/10/roasted-brussels-sprouts-cinnamon-butternut-squash-pecans-and-cranberries/ brussels

No Bake Pumpkin Tarts (Vegan + Paleo)

These wee tarts could hardly be cuter! Thanks to Megan at Detoxinista www.detoxinista.com Megan is on a mission to make healthy living easier and more accessible. She shares quick and easy recipes made with only all-natural ingredients, to prove how delicious real foods can be. LOVE her mission!! http://detoxinista.com/2013/10/no-bake-pumpkin-tarts-vegan-paleo/ DSC02830

Quinoa Stuffing with Butternut Squash, Cranberries and Pistachios

The peeps at BuzzFeed have compiled “24 Healthier Thanksgiving Recipes that are actually DELICIOUS”. One stop shopping! The Quinoa Stuffing with Butternut Squash, Cranberries and Pistachios looks like an amazing alternative to the typical version. http://www.buzzfeed.com/deenashanker/healthier-thanksgiving?sub=3515499_4274987#.mmwZ32A9Y enhanced-8740-1416250307-6 How will you be celebrating Thanksgiving this year? Do you have a favorite recipe you’d like to share? Share below, we’d love to hear. Happy Thanksgiving! xo email_signoff1_name