Popeye burgers muscle in on healty choices

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According to a national survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2005, fewer than one-third of adults eat the amount of fruits and vegetables recommended by the government (two servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables).

So, it’s not just the kids who need to be told to eat their veggies.

In my quest to help myself and my family eat a few more vegetables, I found some “sneaky” recipes.

Most of us love a good hamburger, especially on the grill in the summertime. Did you know that if you make your hamburger with a “lean,” all-white-meat ground turkey, you can cut down on the fat?

I found a recipe that dresses up your traditional turkey burger and even sneaks in some vegetables.

When I had my first apartment, I came across a great cookbook called “Help! My Apartment Has a Dining Room!” by Kevin Mills and Nancy Mills. Lucky for me, I discovered that this mother-and-son team has written a new cookbook called “Faster! I’m Starving!” – which contains 100 dishes that can be made in 25 minutes or less.

The Mills’ recipe for Popeye turkey burgers from this new cookbook was a huge hit with my family. My 3½-year-old, Matthew, even said, “Very good, Mom!” the first time he ate them. As the name suggests, this recipe is written for the spinach lover, Popeye. Although Matthew didn’t know about Popeye, it took only a few minutes to share Kevin Mills’ story to convince Matthew that these are fabulous burgers.

“In order to get my kids to eat veggies, I have to tell them they’re going to get stronger, faster and taller as a result. So they’ll take one bite and then try to lift the fridge, or run down the hall to see if they burn up the carpet with their speed. Sometimes they’ll scream out, ‘It’s working,’ ” wrote Mills.

Matthew responded well to this story. He sat up tall at the table and showed us his big, bulging muscles. This made me think – perhaps I should try these kinds of stories with all of our meals. It’s amazing what a little bit of fun at the dining room table can do to increase an appetite.

Since no burger is complete without fries, I found a healthy alternative to traditional french fries. Sweet potato oven fries are a great source of vitamins B6, C and beta-carotene, as well as a good source of fiber.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) ranked the sweet potato No. 1 in nutrition of all vegetables. In fact, with a score of 184, the sweet potato outscored the next highest vegetable by more than 100 points. Points were given for content of dietary fiber, naturally occurring sugars and complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins A and C, iron and calcium. Points were deducted for fat content (especially saturated fat), sodium, cholesterol, added refined sugars and caffeine. The higher the score, the more nutritious the food.

So, as you fire up your grill this summer, give the veggies a try.

Popeye turkey burgers

(recipe from “Faster! I’m Starving!” by Nancy Mills and Kevin Mills.)

Ingredients:

1 10-ounce package frozen spinach

1 pound ground turkey

2 tablespoons crumbled feta or blue cheese

1 teaspoon bottled crushed garlic

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 hamburger buns

Method:

Preheat the broiler. Make sure the top oven rack is 5 to 6 inches under the broiling unit. For easy cleanup, line the broiling pan with aluminum foil. Place the broiling pan rack on top of the foil and then set aside. Or heat up your gas grill.

Cook the spinach according to directions, drain and let cool. Put the spinach, turkey, cheese, garlic, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper into a large bowl and mix. Shape into four large flat patties.

When the broiler or grill is ready, cook the turkey burgers about 4 to 5 minutes per side, or until they are fully cooked. Cut into one to make sure the middle is white, not pink. While the patties are cooking, put the buns onto a baking sheet and set it on a lower shelf in the oven to warm. Serve immediately. Serves 4

Time-saving tip: Make minipatties, which will cook faster.

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Sweet potato fries

(recipe from Fiona Haynes http://lowfatcooking.about.com/od/vegetablesandvegetarian/r/sweetpotfry1104.htmIngredients)

Ingredients:

2 large sweet potatoes

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ teaspoon salt

Method:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the sweet potatoes into ½-inch strips or wedges. Place in a bowl and toss with the oil and salt. Arrange in a single layer on a nonstick baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, turning once.

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