Turkey Burgers

I love burgers! My treat to myself the day after the cleanse was to make turkey burgers and, yes, they were as good as I expected them to be. Even Alice had her very own mini burger and ate the whole thing AS a burger instead of deconstructing it. WIN! The seasoning mix is my tried-and-true mix I always do except I added paprika and a touch of cumin. The rest of the ingredients I use for almost any meat. I used 1 lb. for the burgers and prepped the other pound for the Stuffed Peppers I made for dinner the next night.

Ground Turkey Burgers









1 lbs. ground turkey (I used white and dark bought locally)

1 tbsp. Garlic Garlic
1 tbsp. Onion Onion
1 tsp. Celery Salt
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

1 tsp. Paprika
1 tsp. Cumin

Handmix the meat and spices. Work the meat really good so you can't tell it's "ground" anymore. Separate into 4 equal parts. Make a ball and toss back and forth from hand to hand to work out the air inside the ball. This really helps to compress the meat so it doesn't fall apart in the pan or on the grill. Flatten. Hot pan with just a touch of oil to keep it from sticking. Cook about 5ish minutes per side until juices run clear.

Top with ... whatever you can find!


I was out of lettuce so I improvised my greens and add all the yumminess you see in the pic: avocado, sprouts, tomoatoes, tri-pepper mix, Baby Swiss (my first cheese in 11 days!) all on a whole wheat kaiser roll. I was in-between multi-grain cibata and kaiser and went with the latter for chewing sake.

Notes: I make damn good burgers. Nuff said.

Day ... Aw hell I don't know!

So the days are running into each other now. We finished the cleanse last Wednesday with great results. I was down 7 lbs. and Dave was down 10 lbs. I had lost 4.5" and 2" of that was off my thigh which was totally impressive to me. Dave lost mostly off his belly and chest (4" total) which is where he needed it. He only made it to the evening of Day 10 without a beer ... I held off until the next day LOL

I've had some good meals going on the past 5 days and some failures. I'm not even going to post the failures because ... they just weren't that good. I think I'll start posting individual posts for particular recipes though.

Alice is still trying all the food! I'm so excited that she actually asked to try things I'm using to make food, too. She asked for a bean sprout the other day ... didn't like it, but she tried it!

This entire process of eating fresh has been very time consuming but I'm happy to say that I am gettign faster. I'm letting things slide here and there to save me sanity (like not cutting veggies for the day until the morning when I'm rushing around getting ready for work), but it's allowing me to relax int he evenings a little bit. But really: I think that my overall energy level is higher. I don't feel nearly as run down and exhausted as I had been. I wake up in the morning feeling AWAKE instead of half dead and I want to say it's because I feel better inside and I'm seeing results on the outside. My runs are getting longer as I progress through C25K and I look forward to them instead of dreading getting on the treadmill.

So far, so good! I need to buckle down and finish off this last week+ and make some really good progress!


Day #9

Menu #9

Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Chicken on Salad with Sweet Onion Dressing
Dinner: Blackened Tilapia with Mango Salsa

Assessment Day 8:

I should NOT be weighing myself everyday. All that does is bum me out if I'm not lighter. Not craving so much as just wanting certain foods. Everyday is more of the same and it's ok :)

Blackened Tilapia with Mango Salsa

Recipe adapted from: Blackened Tuna Steak with Mango Salsa on AllRecipes.com

I thought about using salmon but went with tilapia for my fish this time. I made the "salsa" up the night before so it could stew in the lime juice and get yummy. Also added yellow, orange and red peppers so bulk it up and give it more flavors. For frying the fish, I went really light on the oil with just a splash in the pan. Who really needs THAT much oil for cooking meat? This was a gorgeous plate!


Mango Salsa

1 fresh mango - peeled, pitted, and chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/2 Spanish onion, finely chopped
1 green onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

Combine the mango, bell pepper, Spanish onion, green onion, cilantro, and jalapeno pepper in a bowl; stir. Add the lime juice and 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil and toss to combine. Chill in refrigerator 1 hour (I left overnight).


Blackened Tilapia

4 tilapia steaks

2 tablespoons paprika

1 tablespoon red pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder (Onion Onion)
1 tbsp Garlic Garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon olive oil for the pan

Stir together the paprika, cayenne pepper, onion powder, salt, pepper, thyme, basil, oregano, and garlic powder in a bowl. Remove the tuna steaks from the refrigerator and gently rinse with water and then dip each side of each steak in the spice mixture to coat.

Heat oil in pan. Cook 3-5 minutes. Flip.
Cook another 3-5 or until the fish is no longer translucent and easily flakes with a fork. I also put a lid over it after the flip to ensure the meat didn't dry out while cooking all the way through.


Notes: This turned out better than I had hoped! The dry seasonings on the rub helped to "blackened" the fish and roasted up really nice on the outside to give it a thin grilled layer. Making the salsa the night before was the way to go: I got home, pulled the fish out, seasoned it while the pan got hot, plopped the fish in, got the salsa out and plated while it was cooking and easy-peasy! There was dinner! Alice wasn't in a fish mood though ... and she wasn't liking the lime flavored mango .. but that's life.


The Challenge - In Depth

Ok, so I have had some requests to further explain WHAT I'm doing exactly.

There are 2 Challenges I am completing currently. One is a system cleanse and burn; and the other one is a person challenge for myself.

The Overall Goals

The goal of both of these challenges is to:

1. Create a Healthy Eating Environment in our home

This will encourage Alice and David to eat food that is better for them and make healthier food decisions when they are on their own.

2. Jump start Weight-Lose

I plateaued, backslide, yadayadayada and I need a jump-kick to get me going. This is it.

3. Create a healthier food mentality for me

I have always went without (eating lunch and dinner and maybe a snack) because I thought it would be easier than having to worry about all the extra cals I was putting in my body. I'm seeing now that I was wrong and that I NEED all this good food to help keep me energized during the day. We'll see how that goes after the 24-challenge is over.

Challenge #1: Advocare 24-Day Challenge

What it is:

The 24-Day Challenge is dietary and supplement driven system of cleansing your body, introducing GOOD eating habits and learning to maintain those habits.

It includes a 10-day Herbal Cleanse that uses Fiber Drinks, Pro-biotics and Cleanse supplements on a daily schedule to help get everything out of your system ... and this is while piling foods that are GOOD FOR YOU into your mouth. It requires 3 meals a day and at least 2-snacks, lots of fruits and veggies, and lean protein. Yes, there are some things that should be avoided if possible like dairy, refined sugars, ALCOHOL (eeeeek!) but I personally haven't found myself "lacking" ... except for craving junk foods and those are just not good for you! They have a whole meal-plan, checklist thingy available (you can even find it online) if you are really wondering. I'm totally amazed because I'm eating MORE than I have every ate and I am losing ... but I'm learning new habits and my body is responding to being fed properly. Me having coffee for breakfast previously was obviously not helping my weight lose.

The next phase is the 14-Day Burn that includes meal replacement shakes for breakfast and several supplement doses during the day. It is supposed to fuel your nutritional intake, give you energy and appetite control, and help shed more pounds. I'm getting ready to enter that phase and happily look forward to having diary in my life again!

On both phases we are taking Omega 3 tablets for lunch and dinner (bad fats out and good fats in!) and Spark: their nutritional-energy drink. Really: I've been Sparking for a few weeks now and it's made a HUGE difference in my energy level. Weekends especially. When I could barely function on a Saturday or Sunday morning and I "needed" diet coke ... this has totally replaced it and my head feels MUCH better than with soda.

Why this one:

My friend, Dre, hosted a Biggest Loser competition back in Janaury (and at the time I wasn't able to afford to do it). I watched as many of my friends lost between 10-20 pounds over the course of 24 days. What's more impressive to me are those that are STILL losing and those that are maintaining. When it comes to any "lose weight quick" scheme, I worry about the long-term effects it has on weight-loss. I can't look for a short term solution because that won't help me lose and maintain in the end. THIS is not just a weight-lose challenge; it's a learning to create a healthier lifestyle. We forget how we are meant to feed our bodies and how to eat right and more and more we turn to the quick solutions and fast food. This is a constant reminder for 24-days, that you can eat well and right and STILL lose weight in a healthy manner.

So Dre became a distributor. I tried out Spark here and there. I decided we were going to do the program. Dave said, "What you want to do, I will do it with you," and we are doing it. Thank goodness he is too because I NEED to have participation around me or I will fail. I always do! We are doing this program and we will see how we end up at the end. I would like to maintain my lose at the end without help so that will be the next step after the 24-days is up.

Have questions? Contact Andrea! She. Is. Awesome. One of the best friends I have, seriously. She'll answer your questions and help you out! SparkYourDiet.com

Or you can ask me on FB and I'll be happy to help you find the answers!

Challenge #2: Buy Fresh. Make Fresh. Eat Fresh.

I already posted some of this on a previous post, but I want to reiterate this challenge here and let y'all know: this 2nd challenge is going above and beyond what is required for the 24-day challenge. You can buy bagged salad and low cal dressings at the store. Buy your meat where ever and season however. This personal challenge came about as a result of knowing that we needed to change the way we think about meals in our house.

In an effort to get my family's eating habits on track and stop consuming processed crap, we decided to take a huge step in our dietary adventures: go as natural as possible! Buy Fresh. Make Fresh. Eat Fresh. This is my new mantra. Have we bit off more than we can chew? That remains to be seen. But if I can get my 2.5-year old to start eating real food and vegetables instead of just surviving on fruit and crackers, I'll consider the entire food-plan a success! Because we need to eat healthy to get the best benefits from this program (the 24-day challenge), I decided this would be the best time to launch our new "fresh" menu.

So far, I have been successful in buying most of our veggies/salads, turkey, lamb etc. at the local Farmer's Market. I feel that the price is comparable to shopping at the grocery store and I personally think the food has more/better flavor ... but maybe that's because I'm used to veggies coming from Indiana soil considering I grew up on garden foods! Maybe I'm just crazy ;) And I LOVE that I can get fresh ground white turkey right there on the spot. I was planning on buying chicken, too but didn't plan right when I was there. Anywho, between buying organic oats, nuts etc at the Health Food Store, veggies and meat at the Market, and most of my fruits and some meats at the regular store, we are eating a lot of GOOD FRESH FOOD in my house.

The challenge of not using processed anything has been not tough but time-consuming. Even when I'm prepping ahead of time, I barely feel like I'm keeping up. I'm trying to implement more cooking systems that give me even more leftovers for future meals, too. Plus, having no dishwasher makes for a longer time in the kitchen cleaning between all steps of the process. I have mostly successfully navigated this step. While my spices/vinegars are store bought, I have also caved and bought frozen corn, chow mein noodles, and soy sauce. Life happens :)

As many of you might notice, I'm making all sorts of different foods! Why?

Because 1. I wanted to try making things I've never made before;

2. I'm learning more and more about flavor combinations with each thing I try;

3. we aren't getting bored nor are we lacking in flavor! Eating healthy doesn't have to be boring and I'm making it fairly lively for myself. Probably a bit too lively sometimes but such is life.

As part of our challenge: we are eating dinner as a family. We all sit down at the table together. Alice eats what we eat (plus usually a fruit) but she's only allowed to eat what's on her plate and if she wants more of anything she has to eat everything on the plate first. She only gets a "treat" after she takes a certain number of bites of whatever food we are eating. Some nights that's been a struggle. After a week, she's at least putting it in her mouth, making a face, and swallowing several bites. She's learned the age-old trick of putting food in your mouth with juice and chewing to dilute the flavor of the food LOL BUT it's worth it. When she kept asking me for bites of my salad this last weekend: it was totally worth it! And David has now tried fish, chicken and smushed pieces of whatever we eat. He will be on whole foods in no time!

This second challenge is really the biggest game-changer of everything. Getting Alice to participate in what we do and eat is FABULOUS. Plus I know everything I'm making I can feed to any person in my family without fear of what it contains ... because I know exactly what I put in it!


Questions? Let me know and I will be happy to answer any of them! Thanks!

Day #8

Menu #8:

Breakfast: Leftover banana raisin oatmeal from this weekend
Lunch: Tuna Veggie Salad
Dinner: Chicken and Roasted Radishes and Asparagus

Day #7 Assessment:

I'm GLAD the weekend is over. It was impossible to get in snacking. There was no fiber drink for 4 days and that kind of was disappointing. Made it through. Now I'm rushing posts if you can't tell :)

Tuna Veggie Salad

Same salad as last week, just used canned tuna in water instead of salmon.

Chicken with Roasted Radishes and Asparagus

Probably going to blanch the chicken when I get home and roasted the veggies in the oven with oil, seasoning and lemon. I really want to throw it all on a tortilla ... but alas not yet :(


Day 7

Menu #7:

Breakfast: Oatmeal ...again :)
Lunch: Asian Salad
Dinner: Lamp chops with mint sauce and Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli Soup

Day 6 Assessment:

I want a freaking drink. And I didn't drink enough water (it's the weekend ... kid wrangling doesn't always allow it). BLAH.

Asian Salad

Ok, real quick: leftover chicken from last night. Salad is cabbage, spinach, bean sprouts, snap peas and peanuts.


Asian Peanut Dressing

Blend and add to salad beforehand to get the flavors to break down the cabbage beforehand


Notes: WONDERFUL! I caved and bought some chow mein noodles to add some crunch to the salad so that was an awesome addition. Very Flavorful combination all around.

Lamp chops with mint sauce and Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli Soup

THIS was mostly a fail. I thought it started out great and Dave decided it was too bland so he added spices and we ended up with a Curried Soup with lamb. Not too bad, but not the flavor I was going for!

The original soup recipe: Roasted Cauiflower Soup from Elana's Pantry and Quick Lamb Roast with Mint Sauce from No Recipe


Roasted Cauliflower & Broccoli Soup

1 large head cauliflower

1 small head broccoli

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon celtic sea salt

1 large onion, diced

4 cups water or stock

Garlic to taste

Rosemary to taste

  1. Place whole head of cauliflower in a Pyrex baking dish
  2. Rub cauliflower/broccoli with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt
  3. Add ½ cup water to the dish
  4. Bake uncovered at 350° for 1 ½ hours, or until a knife cuts easily through the core
  5. Remove cauliflower from oven and allow to cool
  6. Coarsely chop and set aside
  7. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat
  8. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 15 minutes
  9. Add cauliflower and 4 cups water or stock
  10. Simmer until cauliflower is very soft, about 10 minutes
  11. In a blender puree, in small batches until smooth
  12. Transfer back to pot and bring to a simmer - flavor more to taste

ADDED: Indian seasoning, tons more garlic, red pepper flake


Lamp chops (nix the mint sauce ... not worth it IMO)

for rub:
1 Tbs kosher salt (halve if using table salt)
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp fennel
1 tsp cumin
Garlic Garlic

Remove the lamb from the refrigerator about an hour before starting to bring it up to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the salt, black pepper, fennel and cumin in a spice grinder, or use a mortar and pestle to roughly grind

Rub the outside of the lamb with the grated garlic. Then sprinkle about half the rub onto one side of the lamb in a relatively thick layer. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat until very hot. Add a splash of oil and put the lamb, seasoned side down. Sprinkle the remaining rub on the other side of the lamb. Fry until golden brown (about 5-6 minutes) then flip. Put the pan in the oven and cook until an instant read thermometer reads 135 degrees F for rare (15-20 minutes). Remove the pan form the oven and let it sit uncovered for 15 minutes. This relaxes the proteins in the meat allowing the juices to reabsorb into the fibers, which keeps the meat moist when you cut it.


Notes: Everything was good on it's own! Even after combining the lamb into the soup, it was still good. Alice ate about 10 bites. She kept calling the lamb in her soup "meatballs" LOL

Day 6

Menu #6:

Breakfast: Fridge Oatmeal
Lunch: Greek style salad
Dinner: Healthy General Tso's Chicken

Assessment of Day 5:

Yesterday was a YUMMY day! The food looked great and tasted just as great! Right now, I really want ice cream ... with chocolate ... and I big fat greasy burger ... but I still abstain :(

Greek Style Salad

So I took the salad greens I had and made the base. Added cucumber, chopped tomatoes and extra kalamata olives all cut up. Chicken on top. And this dressing was pretty darn good.


Greek Dressing

4 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp oregano
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp pepper

Squeeze of Lemon juice


Notes: Alice ate lettuce! And chicken! And I even snuck in a couple of tomatoes! She was eating a peanut butter sandwich when I sat down to eat my salad with her and she wanted a bit ... and then another bite ... and another. TOTALLY AWESOME. The salad was good, but her wanting to eat some was better.

Healthy General Tso's Chicken

Sooooo this started out as a good idea, but didn't end quite like I wanted. It was good but as good as it could have been. I let the sauce cook too long because I was in the middle of cutting up chicken and that's where is went bad. If I would have just warmed it enough I think the peas would have held better and crunched more. Plus it needed more UMPH. More ginger, red pepper, something!

Recipe adapted from: Healthier General Tso's Chicken from Kitchen Simplicity

What I did different: no brown sugar. Easy on the soy. More ginger. Added sesame seeds and bean sprouts to the sauce.

Healthy General Tso's Chicken


1 tablespoon cornstarch (flour)
1/2 cup water

2 cups snow peas, trimmed and halved diagonally

4 garlic cloves, sliced

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Chicken and Coating
2 large egg whites
3 tablespoons cornstarch (flour)
dash of sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pound chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
  1. For sauce: Mix together water and cornstarch until smooth. Stir in remaining ingredients. Set aside.
  2. For chicken: Whisk together egg whites, cornstarch, salt and pepper. Stir in chicken.
  3. To cook: Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Add a small amount of oil. Add half of chicken to pan, dripping off excess coating. Cook, stirring occasionally until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from pan, add more oil if necessary and repeat with remaining chicken. Set the chicken aside.
  4. Add sauce to skillet and cook until snow peas are tender and sauce is thickened. Add chicken (and any collected juices) to skillet.Toss to coat.
  5. Serve with rice.


Note: Follow directions and prep beforehand. I was rushing and tried mixing stuff together and it got mushy. Good ... but could have been better!