Month: April 2019

Zesty Turkey Taco Salad

I probably make some version of tacos every other week. It’s such a quick, easy and flavorful meal , whether you serve the meat in traditional corn tortillas, or over lettuce. The variety of condiments you can serve alongside is endless, making it a fun dish for parties.

Sometimes I’ll make them with shredded rotisserie chicken and green salsa, or I’ll make them fajita-style with chicken thighs, peppers and onions, or fish tacos with cabbage and cilantro-lime crema. So check back for those recipes in the future.

Today I’m sharing a basic recipe for taco meat made with ground turkey. Lately I’ve been adding minced mushrooms to the meat, to bulk it up with extra flavor and nutrition.

I started by sauteing diced onions and ground turkey in a pan. If you don’t have mushrooms or bell peppers on hand, then it’s OK to leave them out. The basic turkey and onion mixture, along with the spice blend is all you really need.

While the meat and vegetables are cooking, you can prepare your spices. The spice blend is enough for one recipe, but if you want to double or quadruple the spices, you can store it in an airtight container and have it available for several more meals.

Once you add all of the spices to the pan, continue to simmer for a few more minutes.

Then you can prepare your condiments. Here I just have some lettuce, Pico de Gallo and shredded cheese, but you can include cooked beans, guacamole, jalapenos, hot sauce, or anything you like.

My husband prefers his on flour tortillas, while I usually make a salad. However you like it, this recipe can be adapted any way you prefer. For example, use ground beef instead of ground turkey.

I hope you will try it. Why not make tonight Taco Night!

Zesty Turkey Taco Salad

Servings:  4

  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 (8-ounce) package of button mushrooms, minced
  • 1 medium onion, or half of a large onion, diced
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Taco Spice Blend (see below)
  • Chopped romaine lettuce
  • Shredded cheese, cheddar, Monterey jack, or a blend
  • Pico de Gallo (see below)
  • Sour cream, optional

Taco Spice Blend

  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

Pico de Gallo

  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon or lime juice
  • A pinch of salt, to taste


Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, add the oil and ground turkey.  Saute for a few minutes until starting to brown.  Add the onions and peppers and continue cooking until soft.    

Add the garlic, Taco Spice Blend and stir.  Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.   

Serve over lettuce with the condiments of your choice.  Some options are:  shredded cheese, pico de gallo, sour cream, guacamole, sliced raw or pickled jalapenos, chopped scallions, cooked beans.

Variations:  Add a minced jalapeno, poblano or other pepper for more heat.  Add a couple handfuls of fresh spinach leaves at the end, cook just until wilted.

Marinara Sauce

It’s so easy to make your own sauce. Why spend more and serve your family sauce from a jar that contains unhealthy ingredients such as soybean oil, corn oil, high fructose corn syrup and excessive amounts of salt?

Sure, it takes a little over an hour to cook, but most of the time it’s just simmering on the stove. If you have a few minutes to saute some onions, you can throw everything together, and go do other things while it cooks.

Even though I’m not eating starchy foods like pasta on a regular basis, I still enjoy this sauce over grilled chicken parmesan or gluten-free meatballs, spaghetti squash or sauteed cabbage.

So the first step is to add some olive oil to your pot, heat to medium and add the finely diced onions.

Once they are nice and tender, add the garlic and cook for a bit longer. Then add the canned crushed tomatoes and the dried spices.

Just cover and let it simmer for an hour. Then toss in fresh basil and you’re ready to serve! Don’t leave out the fresh basil if at all possible. It really makes the sauce special, and adds a bright, sweet flavor. If you don’t have access to fresh basil, then add 2 teaspoons of dried basil along with all of the other spices.

This time I served the Marinara sauce over baked spaghetti squash.

Marinara Sauce

Servings:  8 cups

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced (approx. 2 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated stevia (such as Truvia)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil leaves, finely chopped


In a large pot, saute the onion in the olive oil over medium heat until tender, about 8 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. 

Add the tomatoes and all other ingredients, except basil.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.  Cover partially and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Remove from the heat and stir in the fresh basil.

Variations:  Add ground beef, turkey, or Italian sausage when sautéing the vegetables.  Add mushrooms, shredded carrot or bell peppers. 

Juicy Turkey Burgers

Who doesn’t love a nice, juicy burger? Well, there’s no reason you can’t have one, even if you’re following a healthy diet.

I have been cutting back on the amount of red meat in my diet. In fact, I don’t even make it at home anymore, but will occasionally have some at a restaurant. For example, my husband and I just returned from a vacation in Texas, and we had the most amazing beef brisket in Austin.

But on a regular basis when cooking at home, I like to use ground turkey. This recipe is so simple, it only has 4 ingredients. You can whip these up after work in only 20 minutes.

My recipe calls for McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning which I have used many times in the past, but this time I had some Chicago Style Steak Seasoning on hand, so I used that. You can even make up your own seasoning blend if you prefer.

So you just mix everything together in a bowl (I like to use my hands), then form into 4 patties.

Then I placed them in a hot grill pan on the stove. Even though it’s April, it’s still too cold here in Chicago to be grilling outdoors. After cooking 5 minutes on each side, I put the pan in the oven for 5 more minutes to be sure that they are fully cooked.

I like to serve my burgers on some sturdy lettuce leaves, or sometimes I will just eat them with a knife and fork. My husband prefers a traditional bun. A great side dish to have with burgers is my Super Simple Slaw.

Juicy Turkey Burgers

Servings:  4

  • 1 pound ground turkey, preferably organic
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon granulated McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • 1/4 cup scallions (green parts only), finely sliced


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Add all the ingredients to a large bowl and mix with your hands to combine.  Form into 4 equal patties.

Heat an oven-safe grill pan to medium.  If not a non-stick surface, add a bit of oil to the pan.  Grill the burgers for 5 minutes on each side, then place the pan into the oven to continue cooking for another 5 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Serve the burgers on lettuce leaves or buns with the condiments of your choice.

Notes:  Montreal Steak Seasoning is a spice blend containing salt, paprika, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, granulated onion, granulated garlic, crushed coriander and dill.

You can also cook the burgers on an outdoor grill over medium-high heat with the lid closed for 5 minutes on each side.

Super Simple Slaw

I make coleslaw at least once a week. It’s super quick and easy if you buy the pre-shredded cabbage mix, or even in you buy a whole cabbage and slice it yourself. It only takes 5 minutes to throw together.

I like the basic recipe with a mayo-based dressing, but sometimes I will make one with vinegar and oil, kind of a sweet and sour version.

I start by chopping some scallions. Then I just mix the mayonnaise, vinegar, salt and stevia in a large bowl, and add the bag of coleslaw and onions.

That’s all there is to it! Some people say that it’s best to chill the salad for an hour for the flavors to blend, but I often serve it immediately and it’s just fine.

This goes great with burgers, sandwiches, crab cakes, fish, pretty much anything. Enjoy!

Super Simple Slaw

Servings:  4 (1 cup each)

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon granulated stevia (such as Truvia)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 scallions (green parts only), finely sliced
  • 1 (14-ounce) bag coleslaw mix, (or a half head of raw cabbage, finely sliced)


Add the first 4 ingredients to a large bowl and stir with a whisk to combine thoroughly.  Add the onions and coleslaw and toss.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Variations:  Use extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil instead of mayonnaise.