Homemade Turkey Breakfast Sausage – Quick & Lean

One of the biggest challenges with our new fitness regimen has been getting in enough lean protein. I think I mentioned before that it includes a diet plan which is very lean, and starts out low in carbs, higher in protein (gradually tapering off to a very sustainable and carb-rich diet for energy). Since we don’t consume dairy or soy, this means protein powders, eggs, fish, and meat.

I must confess, I am not a big egg fan, and I have never been a big meat consumer either … even dabbling in vegan cooking regularly. However, I have found some ways to sneak in some of that lean protein in an enjoyable way. One of them is breakfast sausage! Of course, pork would be a wee bit too fatty, so we opted for a nice, homemade turkey sausage. 

Extra-Lean Turkey Breakfast Sausage Patties

I went ultra-lean on this sausage, but for a juicier end product I have included recipes for “leaner” and “lean” turkey sausage. All are low-carb (obviously!) but lean will have the best texture while maintainig some virtue, and ultra-lean will suit super low-fat dieters.

Turkey Breakfast Sausage (Lean to Ultra-Lean)

Starting with the Spices … Combine all of the following spices, either leaving them whole, giving them a five or six pulses together in your spice grinder (my preferred method), or whizzing them to a powder in your spice grinder.

  • 1/2 to 3/4 Teaspoon Salt (I like 3/4 – but it will still be good with 1/2)
  • 1 Teaspoon Fennel Seed
  • 1 Teaspoon Sage
  • 1 Teaspoon Thyme
  • 1 Teaspoon Pepper, White and/or Black (I use a mix of white and black freshly ground peppercorns)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • Generous Pinch of Crushed Red Pepper

Choose your meat …mix your spices into 1 lb of Ground Turkey, choosing ONE of the folllowing …

  • Lean – Use 1 lb of 93% Fat-Free Ground Turkey (best for egg-free)
  • Leaner – Use 1 lb of 97% Fat-Free Ground Turkey
  • Ultra-Lean – Use 1 lb of 99% Fat-Free Ground White Turkey Meat

Let it Rest … If time permits, cover and chill for at least an hour (preferably overnight) to allow the flavors to meld. If you are in a hurry, skip this step and move ahead to the next one.

Add Some Moisture … Combine ONE of the following egg options into the meat to add a little moisture into that turkey meat …

  • Lean – Use 1 Large Egg (optional)
  • Leaner – Use 1 Large Egg or 1 to 2 Large Egg Whites
  • Ultra-Lean – Use 2 Large Egg Whites (about 6T pasteurized egg white)
  • Time to Cook … Spray a skillet with cooking spray (or use 1 teaspoon of oil) and heat it over medium heat. Scoop the ground turkey (it will be very moist if you added egg, I use an ice cream scoop) into your skillet and flatten it with the back of a spatula. Cover and allow the patties to cook for 3 minutes. Flip, cover again, and allow them to cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until the turkey is cooked through. Don’t cook them too long, as the meat will dry out, but make sure there is no pink left in the middle. And serve.

    Yields 4 servings (about 8 2-ounce patties)

    Ultra-Lean Turkey Breakfast Sausage Patties

    Blog Events:

    Non-Fat Salad Dressing Bursting with Flavor

    Have you ever tried Low Fat Mayonnaise? Seriously, who’s evil invention was that stuff??!! The new fitness plan we are on calls for a leaner menu. And while almost all of the food/recipes are completely whole food based, they do call for a couple of ingredients that I might not normally purchase … one being low fat mayo.

    At first, I thought I could get away with using the regular stuff or Vegenaise (the grapeseed oil one is our household favorite), but it is about 4 times the fat of the low fat version (over budget). So I thought, what the heck. Trader Joe’s had a good price on a light version with all natural ingredients (unfortunately only available in the larger size), so we decided to give it a go. Biggest mistake ever!

    It was to be used in making tuna salad (destroyed my good quality tuna), chicken salad (skipped it after tasting what it did to the tuna), and a ranch salad dressing (I just won’t go there). The gelatin-like texture and odd overly-lemon but not quite there taste were just not my cup of tea. My husband dealt, but I shrieked and grumbled for days about how horrible the stuff was.

    Not wanting to listen to my own whines anymore, I set out to find a new salad dressing that would still offer a low fat profile. And thanks to All Recipes, I found a winner. This tangy dressing is able to hold its own against a bed of greens, but is sweet and pleasant enough to keep you shoveling those greens down. I highly recommend it.

    Non-Fat Curry Salad Dressing

    Sweet and Tangy Non-Fat Curry Vinaigrette
    Adapted only slightly from All Recipes

    • 2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
    • 2 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar
    • 4 Teaspoons Honey or Agave Nectar
    • 1 Teaspoon Curry Powder
    • 2 Teaspoons Dijon Mustard

    Whisk everything together in a small bowl, and douse liberally over your favorite salad.

    Note: The original recipe said to season to taste with salt and pepper, but I felt these additions unnecessary. If anything, maybe some fresh ground pepper over the salad after the fact. Also, they said 6 servings, I don’t quite agree, see below …

    Yields 4 servings

     

    Now, if anyone has an idea for how to use up the other 3/4 jar of low fat mayo lurking in our fridge, please do tell!

    Homemade Strawberry Julius … The Ultimate Workout Reward!

     

    Whew! 5 days into the new fitness program and it is definitelly kicking our butts. Thank you all for your inspiring comments the other day, we are keeping motivated!

    Thus far my husband and I have done three days of 90-minute cardio-type weight and muscle training (can we say torture?), an hour of some serious cardio, and 90 minutes of the hardest yoga I have ever done. I am trying to add in some walking along with that to keep these stiff muscles moving! Did I mention we signed up for two-hour long tennis lessons. Call us insane, but we are actually enjoying it … that is, now that the initial bout of cripling pain is wearing off.

    So, with this new fitness routine comes an amped up diet. More calories (yes, I said more!), more protein, less sugar, and less fat. The two aspects that are hardest for us are the protein load (to be addressed in another post) and the less sugar. We are sugar addicts around here. Pretty much the only sugar found in the meal plans is slated for post-workout.

    Okay, I must admit, that part is genious. Think about it, you can have that wonderfully sweet and thirst-quenching drink and delicious bar … AFTER you finish your workout. Can we say motivation?

    strawberryjulius2

    The recommended post-workout drinks contain milk in some form or another, so I have had to invent my own. Needless to say, I have spent all week perfecting this post-workout beverage to get the biggest enjoyment bang for my buck. The most important aspect is that the drink have a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein. Surprisingly, that means a lot of wonderful sugars in the form of fresh fruit and sweetener.

    Since I am using Egg White Protein Powder (but you can use another type if you wish), the famous “Julius” immediately came to mind, and since it is officially strawberry season … well, need I say more? Of course, this is a versatile, easy little recipe that you can use as a recovery drink, for added protein (say for those little ones), or as a dessert … just see my notes below. Enjoy and have a great weekend!

    Rewarding Strawberry “Julius”

    This recipe is optional vegan, optional egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free, gluten-free, and nut-free

    • 2 Cups Strawberry Halves
    • ½ Cup Water
    • 3 Tablespoons Honey or Agave Nectar or 1/4 Cup White Sugar (I use honey)
    • ½ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
    • Pinch Salt (optional)
    • 2 Cups Ice
    • 1.5 Tablespoons Egg Protein Powder (or enough of your favorite protein powder to equal roughly 16 to 18 grams of protein OR if you aren’t seeking a big protein boost, use 1 large egg white)

    Combine the strawberries, water, honey, vanilla, ice, and salt (if using)  in your blender and blend it to a nice smoothie consistency. Add more water or ice as you see fit. Add in the protein powder and just give it a few quick pulses to blend it in.

    A Few Quick Notes:

    • If using egg protein powder, it will nicely foam up like a Julius very quickly. I can’t say for other protein powders since I haven’t tried them, but the taste should still be excellent. If not using this for a protein drink, you can also use 1 large egg white (3 T pasteurized egg whites) in place of protein powder.
    • If you aren’t looking for a 4:1 ratio in particular, feel free to reduce the sweetener to your taste. 
    • If you want lower calories, reduce both the sweetener and the protein powder in half (but for optimum indulgence, I don’t recommend it!).
    • If you just want a dessert, go ahead with the protein powder or sub in a pasteurized egg white, or unsweetened milk alternative in place of the water for more of a strawberry smoothie.
    • As is, each serving has about 10g of protein, just under 40g of carbs, and is so incredibly yummy!

    Yields 2 yumilicious servings

    strawberryjulius

    Blog Events: This recipe was submitted to the Strawberry Feast at My Kitchen Treasures.

    Sinful Cinnamon-Apple Sauté (Breakfast or Dessert?)

    Actually, this little dish isn’t sinful at all, but that title just sounds so good doesn’t it? Well, this saute does produce tender, juicy apples with a wonderfully rich, sweet, and cinnamon-y syrup, rendering it indulgent enough for a healthy dessert.

    Cinnamon Apple Saute

    However, I had it for breakfast. I ate it on its own as a part of my multi-course Sunday grazing. But, this simple recipe (just 10 minutes!) is incredibly flexible when it comes to serving options. You can:

    • Serve the apples with your favorite yogurt (mine being this one), stirring a bit of the resultant cinnamon apple syrup into the yogurt if desired.
    • Top waffles with the apples and resultant cinnamon-apple syrup.
    • Spread nut butter on a bagel, toast, or rice cakes, and top with slices of cinnamon apples (one of my faves).
    • Serve over rice or other grain (I don’t know why I just thought of this one, but it really sounds good).
    • Sprinkle the apples with ground flaxseed or your favorite granola (homemade if you can!).
    • Top the apples with a scoop of ice cream (this one and this one being my picks), drizzling some of the resultant syrup over top of everything for a sundae flare. Oh what the heck, sprinkle on some granola too!
    • You say you’ve finished the apples, but have a little bit of leftover syrup? Use it to sweeten your favorite tea! Problem solved.

    Okay, now that you are brimming with ideas, lets get to the kitchen …

     

    Simply Scrumptious Cinnamon-Apple Sauté
    Recipe adapted from the October 2007 issue of Natural Health Magazine

    This recipe is Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, optionally Vegan, and optionally Soy-Free

    • 2 Medium Apples (around 3/4 to 1 lb), sliced 1/4-inch thick (no need to peel!)
    • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice (fresh squeezed if you have it)
    • 1-1/2 Teaspoons Oil or Margarine (I used coconut oil)
    • 1 Tablespoon Honey or Maple Syrup (I used honey, but I think maple syrup may be even better)
    • 1/4 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
    • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
    • 1/8 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
    • Generous Pinch of Salt (especially if using oil rather than margarine)

    In a medium sized bowl, toss the apple slices with the lemon juice and briefly set aside.

    In a large skillet, melt heat the oil or margarine over medium heat. Add the honey or maple syrup and the vanilla extract, giving everything a quick stir. Add the apples, and stir to coat them with the sweet sauce. Sprinkle on the cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and once again, stir to ensure the apples are evenly coated.

    Cover, and allow the apples to cook for 3 to 5 minutes (or until desired tenderness) checking in to stir once or twice.

    They are ready! Enjoy them as is, or see the beginning of this post for some serving options.

    Cinnamon Pears Option: Use 2 medium pears instead of the apples. Pears are generally softer than apples, so you will only need 2 to 3 minutes of cooking time once covered.

    Yields 2 Yummy Servings of Apples

    Cinnamon Apple Saute

     

    My Earth Day Note: One of my Earth Day resolutions is to try to eat more seasonally. While I was sure that apples were a fall fruit, it seems the crops are brimming right now. I purchase organic apples, since they are a top “pesticide crop.” An abundance of northwest apples (as local as it gets for this area) allowed me to purchase a bag of these beauties (Fuji I believe) for less than a dollar a pound.

    Homemade Hamburger Buns in a Jiffy

    Ever have one of those times when a hamburger or veggie burger sounds so good (say, for example, right before watching a Super Bowl game), but you don’t happen to have any buns on hand?  Problem solved. These hamburger buns are insanely fast to whip up, because they do not require any rising time (just a few minutes of rest) …

    No Rise Wheat Hamburger Buns

    I followed the original recipe pretty closely, but now that I am comfortable with it, I have plans to experiment further, perhaps reducing the sugar, trialing it with other flours, going sans egg for a vegan option, etc.  But, in the meantime, I wanted to share it with you as it is just so darn helpful!

    Speedy Wheat Hamburger Buns
    Adapted from Recipezaar

    This recipe is dairy-free (no milk, lactose, or casein), peanut-free, tree nut-free, and soy-free. You can substitute 1 Ener-G egg for a good egg-free and vegan option too (thanks Carolsue!) or you can use a “flax egg” as Melissa did here at Vegan Cooks.

    2 Tablespoons Active Dry Yeast
    1 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons Warm Water (I used just 1 cup, and they still turned out nicely)
    1/3 Cup Oil (I used grapeseed)
    1/4 Cup Sugar (your choice)
    1 Egg
    1 Teaspoon Salt
    2 Cups All-Purpose or White Bread Flour
    1 1/2 to 1 3/4 Cups Whole Wheat Flour

    In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Stir in the oil and sugar, and let the mixture stand for 5 minutes.

    Add the egg, salt, white flour, and 1 1/2 cups of the wheat flour, combining until it forms a soft dough.  Add the additional 1/4 cup of wheat flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands (if you need a little more, that is okay too). Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes or so.

    Divide the dough into 8 pieces, shape each into a thick disc, and place them on baking sheets about 3 inches apart.

    No Rise Wheat Hamburger Buns

    Preheat your oven to 425ºF. Lightly cover the balls of dough and let them rest for about 10 minutes (or longer if you wish).

    Pop them in the oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until nicely browned. Cool on a wire rack.

    Yields 8 buns

    No Rise Wheat Hamburger Buns