Healthy homemade beef burgers – gluten free version

I made the decision to give up Macdonald’s and junk food 10 years ago. Since then I have been making my own burger for good, I say that because I only used to do it ocassionally. Cut a long story, I love making my own burgers, when I tell people they are usually surprised. This is usually because they think it’s a lengthy process and a waste of time, but when I tell them what it entails they change their minds. Last year, I actually made mini burgers at the first birthday party of a friend’s daughter, whilst the kids were playing party games. It went down a storm, some of the mothers were asking for the recipe before they left. 

I have adapted the recipe over the years as I got healthier, the popular version is with bread crumbs, but for this recipe I have used couscous for a gluten free version. However, do feel feel to go down the breadcrumbs route if you prefer.

The ingredients I used were cooled cooked couscous, mixed dry herbs, black pepper, red onion, and lean minced beef.

I placed all the ingredients in my wooden bowl, ok I admit I was multi tasking as all the other bowls were used up for proving bread. Back to the recipe, the onion was chopped, all the ingredients were mixed with my fingers and that was it. By the way you can add other spices into the mixture, eg; curry but make sure you are wearing gloves as you don’t want it going into your eyes if you accidently rub them, neither do you want to end up with stained hands.

Once all the ingredients are combined, roll the mixture into balls. There, you have just made your first burger. It’s that simple, continue until you have used up the mixture.

I wrapped each burger individually in cling (plastic wrap) film. As I had made a batch, I froze them. However, if you want to eatyours straight away, place in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to ‘set’. Or in a freezer for about 15 minutes, like I did at my friend’s party. 

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RECIPE

HOMEMADE BEEF BURGERS

Ingredients

500g Minced (Ground) beef or turkey, pork or chicken

1 Red or regular onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon dried or fresh herbs of choice – mixed, or parsley.

Cooked couscous, cooled  or fresh breadcrumbs if preferred

Dash of ground black pepper 

Method

In a bowl, add the ingredients until incorporated into the mince beef. Take a handful and roll into small to medium balls. I made 9 burgers out of mine. Cut pieces of Cling (plastic wrap) and wrap each burger indiviudally. Put in a fridge for 30 minutes or an hour to ‘form’, freeze the left over wrapped burgers in a large freezer bag, you don’t want it to split and come into direct contact with other foods. To cook burgers from frozen, allow to thaw overnight as this makes it easier to cook. 

Grill the burgers for 3 minutes, flip to the other side till it is thoroughly cooked and the juices are running, ensure the burgers are cooked through. Enjoy with wholemeal burger buns, pitta bread or as a naked burger with salad or low fat vegetable chips – see my last post for ideas.

If using chips, parboil for 5-7 minutes in boiling water. Drain and place in a baking tray drizzle with olive oil and salt. Cook in the oven for 20-30 minutes depending on your oven temperature, mine was 250c. 

  • Alternative ingredients – 1/2 teaspoon curry powder, 1 teaspoon of Worcester or BBQ, applesauce if using pork or turkey. Bulgur wheat instead of couscous.

Savoury muffins

Muffins don’t have to be sweet especially for those who would rather have savoury. I like both but I do like savoury muffins for lunch either with salad or soup. This recipe is similar to the Egg muffins I posted earlier in the year but with flour and baking powder.

These muffins are so quick and easy to make, you don’t even have to be a ‘baker’ to make these, it’s just a case of putting together ingredients you already have in your cupboard and fridge.

To begin with I chopped up red onions, mixed peppers, ham then fried them. After the mixture had cooled, it is time for the baking part, dry and wet ingredients together ending, adding the the cooled ingredients, finishing off with grated cheddar cheese. Below is what it looked like before they went in the oven.

The baked muffins, the smell in my kitchen was mouthwatering, even if I say so myself, lol.

The inside of the muffin, just to show you how yummy this looks

As with the egg muffins, you can make add ingredients of your choice. You can use gluten free flour for this recipe, for Vegans, use egg substitue, cheese alternative or omit completely.

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Mixed Peppers and Cheesy muffins

Plain (All Purpose) Flour – regular or gluten free

Mixed peppers – one of each, diced

1 small red onion, finely chopped 

1 tablespoon baking Powder

1 teaspoon olive oil for frying

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 teaspoon Rapeseed (Canola) oil for baking

2 eggs – beaten slightly

Ham, Bacon or other ingredients of your choice or additional vegetables

Cheddar cheese (optional) grated or alternative for Vegans

Method

Preheat oven

Fry the peppers, onion and other ingredients of your choice. Allow to cool slightly.

In a bowl add the dry ingredients, whisk.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, blend, adding the cooled ingredients, mix lightly.

Spoon the mixture into muffin tin, using a spoon

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, depending on the temperature of your oven.

Allow to cool slightly or completely if you are going to eat straight.

Tips

Make a batch if you are not going to eat all at once, freeze and take out what you need, just reheat in the microwave.

Enjoy your muffins with a sauce, salad, soup or on its own as a snack. It is great for lunch when friends drop by unexpectedly.

 

Making use of leftovers 

 

I was in search of something to eat for lunch, on my day off. My fridge was a little (by my standards, I like it fully packed, lol) bear. As I looked I found one plaintain, corn cob and eggs, as I put the ingredients together I had a light bulb moment. I got out the grater, frying pan and olive oil, then began grating the plantain.

Next I beat two eggs, added the grated plaintain, mixed spice, all mixed together, however, I realised the fritters may break so I decided to add a teaspoon of gluten free, while the oil was heating in the frying pan, I decided to boil the corn on a cob.

Below, the mixture or dare I say batter.

 

To ge the best of the fritters, I allowed it to to bubble before turning it over, this was to prevent breakage. The tip is to ensure that the fritters is well cooked on both sides because unlike bananas, plantains should not be eaten raw as it could lead to stomach ache.

Although, an unusual combination I really enjoyed my lunch. You can also use bananas for this recipe, but you will have to mash it instead of grating as it is a lot softer than plantain.

I went food shopping afterwards to stock my fridge and cupboard. It was back to eating properly once again.

 

Banana or Plantain Fritters

Ingredients.

 

1 ripe plantain or 2 small over ripe bananas

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon of olive or rapeseed

Pinch of cinamon

1 tea spoon of gluten free or Rice flour (optional)

Accompaniment of your choice

 

Method

Heat oil in a pan

Grate if using plantian or mash banana

Beat egg

Add grated plantain or mashed banana, cinammon, and flour of choice if using.

Mix all ingredients together.

Spoon batter to the pan on medium heat, ensure its bubbling before turning.

Once you notice the bubbles turn and continue to cook on the other side.

Both sides should be slightly golden brown, plate and serve with accompaniment of your choice, enjoy your fritters.

 

 

 

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Trans fats – suprisingly good fats

Anyone who is into healthy eating knows how difficult it is to get to grips what to eat or not to eat. So mentioning Fats will actually make someone want to give up, this is because fats  (I had the same experience when I first started) is considered forbidden. I mean the reason for wanting to lose weight in the first place is to give up fatty foods, replacing it with healthy alternatives.  If the phrase good and bad fats had been mentioned when I was starting out I would have given up.

I don’t want anyone who is new to healthy eating reading this to ‘run away’,  please that is not my intention I’m just making a point. I am sure you have heard or read about good and bad fats anyway. There is a lot of confusion/misconception as to what constitutes good and bad fat. The ‘theories ‘ are enough to make anyone ask if it is worth the effort in the first place. Fright not dear friends, I have done a lot of research on the subject, in addition, I have spoken to a nutritionist about this. She was the one who recommended I bring back some of the foods I had omitted ( I think I mentioned this a year ago) such as avocados, low fat spread, light frying with olive oil. You see I had given up on every food with any ounce of fat in it. This made me do more research on fats, I have also spoken to my doctor about, yes I do ask a lot of questions when it comes to my healthy, why shouldn’t I?

I have put together examples I found online which gives an insight into the foods we eat and what trans fats means.  I also found one very surprising fact Ricotta cheese is lower in fat than Peanut butter. I don’t like ricotta much because I have always considered it to be very fattening. For someone who thoroughly reads food labels before dumping in her shopping basket at the supermarket I can’t believe  I never linked both products, it is probably because I shop for them at various times, in addition, one is a cupboard item the other is for the fridge. I did stop eating peanut for a while but it was one of the products I was advised to re-introduce into my diet, I only go for the pure version as the popular brands are loaded with sugar.  See the break down below of these and other foods. I decided to go with one source (BBC Food online) for a change as I found the articles easy to understand, nothing to do with my Britishness, I promise, lol.

Ricotta
Per serving: 28g
Calories: 49kcal
Fat: 3.7g
Sat fat: 2.4g
Protein: 4.6g
Salt: 52mg

Peanut butter
Per serving (one tablespoon/16g)
Calories: 94kcal
Fat: 8g
Sat fat: 1.7g
Protein: 4g
Salt: 6.25mg

Other foods
Egg
One medium egg is 65 calories, mostly made up of protein and only 1.3g of sat fat, 1.7g of monounsaturated and 0.7g of polyunsaturated fat. Eggs are also very nutritionally dense – providing Vitamin A, C, D, B, calcium, iron, and magnesium.
Walnuts
These nuts are full of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, which we can’t get into our bodies any other way other than through what we eat. One serving (28g) contains 183kcal and 18g of fat, but 13g of that is polyunsaturated fat. A few walnuts are a satisfying snack with a lot of good fats.
Olive Oil.
Olive oil is held up as one of the healthy fats you should eat more of. If you have one tablespoon of olive oil a day (say in a salad dressing) which is 13.5g, you’ll take in 119 calories and 10g of monounsaturated fat. But be warned – it is still calorie-dense and too much of it will affect your waistline.
Toast: Butter v spread
Butter is about 80% saturated fat, or 30kcal per teaspoon, and this high fat content meant that in the past people were actively encouraged to use lower-fat spreads instead.
Saturated fat is made up of saturated fatty acids, which are thought to pack tightly together in your bloodstream and increase low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol.
Butter is now thought to increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or good cholesterol, at the same time and is a good source of vitamins A, D and E.
Meanwhile, the average saturated fat content of a spread is about 60%. It contains fewer calories than butter – about 21kcal teaspoon. One myth surrounding spreads sold in the UK is that they contain high amounts of trans fats, made when oil goes through a process called hydrogenation.
Trans fats can raise bad LDL cholesterol levels and actually suppress the production of HDL, or good cholesterol.

But in recent years spreads sold in the UK have been reformulated and now contain no or minimal amounts of trans fats, according to the British Nutrition Foundation.

Some nutritionists believe spreads with high polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which are generally plant-based – for instance, olive oil – are the best for your health.

End of BBC Article

My final thoughts, I am still staying away from butter, in spite of the research, I have an olive  based spread  instead. I have it this once or twice a week or sometimes not at all, as this I don’t eat bread every week, it is also because I prefer avocado as a spread. This is another article for another day. Whichever one of the items Iisted you decide go to or not go with, always remember the saying ‘everything in moderation’.

Egg muffins – low carb and delicious.

One of my recent fave recipes is Egg muffins. Apart from the fact that it’s easy to make I also like how it can be adapted to suit all taste buds, in other words, you can put in what you like. The other reason is that it can be eaten ar anytime of the day either hot or cold with your fave accompaniments. Without further Ado – sounding like Shakespeare cos I got a A in Literature, lol. Here is  the  recipe I am not going to bore you with pictures of how to chop vegetables as I am pretty sure you can do that already, basically I have skipped the obvious .

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The ingredients, cheese is important for this recipe as it holds the muffin. You can any cheese of your choice.

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I used a deep silicone muffin tin for this recipe but you can use any kind of baking tin you have, be sure to oil your tin if its not silicone. I layered the tin with wafer thin ham, not necessary I just wanted a more satisfying meal. Next I added chopped vegetables of my choice.

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I beat 5 eggs; added about half a mug of milk, seasoning and mixed spice. Poured into each hole

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Top with cheese of your choice. Transfer to your hot oven. As all oven temperatures are different I can’t give you a specific temperature but mine was on 150 degrees for 30 minutes as I had put a lot of ingredients in my muffins so will take longer to  cook.

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My baked egg muffins, yes I over filled one hence the spillage, it was thoroughly cooked regardless.

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This what it looked like out of the tin.

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Next day for my lunch later. I heated it in the microwave for 3 minutes, let it cool slightly then placed on the bed of salad of my lunch box.

And that is how you make egg muffins, simple satisfying and delicious. The muffins can be stored in the fridge for up to a week or they can frozen in freezer bags, once they are defrosted, heat them in the microwave. There are many ways to make egg muffins or omelette as some people to call it. For example, some mix all the ingredients into the eggs but this was my preferred choice as it means none of the ingredients are missing when I am pouring it into each individual tin, I like to see and taste every ingredient.

Enjoy making yours whatever ingredients you prefer to put in it. And do let me know how it turned out.

Granola bars

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Following on from my post on

granola. Here is another must have on my eating list – granola bars. I must admit I don’t eat these often as I don’t want to OD on Granola. When I do make them it’s always a big batch some of which I freeze.
As I am sugar free I use a combination of Stevia, honey/agave.
There are so many online recipes I have saved loads on my Pinterest so I just switch to whichever one suits. As I can now ‘customise’ to my taste.

Mason jar ideas

You will recall I posted a picture of my mason jars.  Well there are many  ways  (apart from drinks) I  can use them. You ca n use sterilised ( see my
Post on compotes) jars.   Check out  the link below for lunch  ideas,  you can also use jars for  overnight porridge and deserts, basically  you can have beak fast and lunch on the  go.  You can make  meals ahead , salads can be made up to 2 weeks

http://pin.it/ietFquV

By following the  link above you will find other ideas on Pinterest.