Ultimate Greek Burger

Serve these Ultimate Greek Burgers at your next barbecue. Highlighting fresh Greek-inspired flavors, this recipe will kick your burger game up a notch.

Greek Burger on a toasted bun with tzatziki sauce and tomato salad

This post is sponsored by the Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative a subcontractor to the Beef Checkoff. Thank you for supporting brands that make this blog possible!

How these Ultimate Greek Burgers will step your burger game up a notch

There is nothing better than a juicy burger right off the grill. A beef patty is a classic, but after hosting and attending so many barbecues, it’s time to switch things up! Don’t worry, we are keeping the beef patty, but enhancing it with Greek-inspired flavors. As a chef, I love Mediterranean flavors and as a dietitian, I love the health benefits that come along with following a Mediterranean style diet.

bite taken out of a Greek burger

What is the Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean-style eating pattern encompasses a wide variety of foods and flavors from the countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea. While the cuisines of each country differ slightly, they all have a few things in common. To build a healthy Mediterranean plate, start with fresh vegetables and fruits, add lean protein and whole grains, and enhance with dairy and healthy fats.

Why lean beef is included in the Mediterranean Diet

The eating pattern allows a wide variety of proteins (including fresh lean beef, pork, poultry, and fish) that support heart health. Lean beef contains important nutrients, like protein, iron, zinc, and B-vitamins that your body needs.

What does “lean beef” mean?

Beef can only be claimed as “lean” if the cut of beef is less than 10g total fat, 4.5g or less saturated fat and less than 95 mg of cholesterol per 100-gram serving.

overhead image of greek burger topped with tzatziki sauce and tomatoes

What’s different about this Greek Burger?

Ripe summer produce like tomatoes, cucumbers, and fresh herbs are essential to Greek cooking. Flavors are incorporated within the lean beef as well as adding layers of additional flavors and textures as you build the burger.

Why I love this recipe

Can’t go wrong with a delicious burger, am I right? I love the fact the burger is stuffed with spinach and onion, along with plenty of seasonings. I’m not a fan of raw onion on top of my burger (caramelized onions – that’s a different story!), so the addition of them minced within the burger adds a subtle flavor vs. overpowering. The addition of the added veggies helps keep the lean burger moist and juice.

I kind of kept traditional burger toppings on here. The tomato salad adds a tanginess while the tzatziki adds a cooling creamy effect. I never said this wasn’t going to be a messy eating kind of burger!

Chef’s Tips

  • Invest in a digital thermometer. DO NOT cut open the burgers to check their doneness. This will release all their juices leaving you with a dry burger.
  • Take the time to squeeze out the excess liquid from the cucumbers. This will prevent your tzatziki sauce from being watery.
  • Oil your grill grates. Dip a bunched-up paper towel into a high-heat cooking oil (such as canola oil or olive oil). Be careful not to saturate the paper towel. You want enough oil on it to coat the grill grate, but you don’t want it dripping everywhere. Using an oven mitt and tongs, carefully wipe the paper down on the grill grate.

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Greek Burger on a toasted bun with tzatziki sauce and tomato salad

Ultimate Greek Burger

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 12
  • Total Time: 27 minutes
  • Yield: 4
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Grill
  • Cuisine: Greek

Description

Serve these Ultimate Greek Burgers at your next barbecue. Highlighting fresh Greek-inspired flavors, this recipe will kick your burger game up a notch.


Ingredients

For the tomato salad:
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons red onion, finely minced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the tzatziki sauce:
1 English cucumber
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
½ tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon salt

For the burgers:
1 lb. 93% lean ground beef
1 cup spinach, finely chopped
½ small red onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
4 hamburger buns


Instructions

For the tomato salad:

  1. In a bowl, combine tomatoes, onion, parsley, vinegar, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the tzatziki sauce:

  1. Using a cheese grater, grate the English cucumber. Using a thin dish towel or paper towels, press out any excess liquid. 
  2. In a bowl, mix together yogurt, lemon juice, garlic powder, and salt. Fold in the cucumber.

For the burgers:

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Grease grill grates.
  2. In a large bowl, combine beef, spinach, onion, garlic, dill, feta, oregano, salt, and pepper. Mix until all ingredients are well combined. Do not overwork the meat mixture. Form into 4 beef patties.
  3. Grill the burgers for approximately 4-6 minutes then flip over and grill another 4-6 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into center registers 160°F.
  4. Add burgers to a bun and top with tzatziki sauce and tomato salad.

Notes

  • Invest in a digital thermometer. DO NOT cut open the burgers to check their doneness. This will release all their juices leaving you with a dry burger.
  • Take the time to squeeze out the excess liquid from the cucumbers. This will prevent your tzatziki sauce from being watery.
  • Oil your grill grates. Dip a bunched up paper towel into a high-heat cooking oil (such as canola oil or olive oil). Be careful not to saturate the paper towel. You want enough oil on it to coat the grill grate, but you don’t want it dripping everywhere. Using an oven mitt and tongs, carefully wipe the paper down on the grill grate.

Keywords: burger, Greek recipe, Greek burger, beef

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FAQ

How do I know when the burgers are done?

See the chef tip above. Invest in a digital thermometer. Cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into center registers 160°F.

What can I serve these burgers with?

You can’t go wrong with serving fries with these Ultimate Greek Burgers! If at a BBQ other ideas can be veggie sticks, seasonal fruit, like watermelon or grilled pineapple, potato salad, or a simple mixed green salad.

How else can I use lean ground beef?

Ways to repurpose this Greek burger

  • Greek burger salad. Add the tomato salad and other veggies you have on hand, a heated patty, quinoa (or a different whole grain), and add the tzatziki as a salad dressing.
  • Greek pita. Ran out of burger buns? No problem. Crumble up a burger and stuff it in a pita with the tomato salad and tzatziki sauce.

Other recipes you may enjoy

Resources:

O’Connor LE, et al. A Mediterranean-style eating pattern with lean, unprocessed red meat has cardiometabolic benefits for adults who are overweight or obese in a randomized, crossover, controlled feeding trial. Am J Clin Nutr 2018, nqy075.
https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/advance-article/doi/10.1093/ajcn/nqy075/5036105

Leidy HJ,et al. The role of protein in weight loss and maintenance. Am J Clin Nutr 2015;101:1320S-9S

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Nutrient Data Laboratory. USDA National Nutrient Database for
Standard Reference Legacy Release, April 2018. Available at: http://www.ars.usda.gov/ba/bhnrc/ndl

Tomato Cucumber Salad

With just five simple ingredients, this Tomato Cucumber Salad will become a regular side dish to serve up with any spring or summer recipe.

Tomato Cucumber Salad in a wooden bowl

Why I love this Tomato Cucumber Salad recipe

Who says salads have to start with a bed of lettuce? We’ve chatted before about how salads don’t have to be boring! What I love the most about this recipe is simple its ingredients, taking less than 10 minutes to put together, and can turn into so many new variations. (see below)

Using mini cucumbers is key

While any kind of cucumber can work in this recipe, I urge you to seek our mini cucumbers, because I think it really makes the recipe. No need to peel the skin. The skin of mini cucumbers is tender and delicate. Just simply slice into coins and they are ready to go.

When I develop a recipe, I always think about the perfect bite. When slicing mini cucumbers into a coin, it takes the same shape and size of the cherry tomatoes so you are able to get everything all in one bite. Plus, it’s more time consuming to peel, seed, and quarter a regular cucumber.

Recipe Tip

If you are using a conventional cucumber, I recommend removing the seeds. Why? Because they are bitter and don’t want any bitterness added to the dish. For a conventional cucumber, peel, scoop out the seeds, slice and cut in quarters for this recipe.
For other cooking tips, go here.

Tomato Cucumber Salad in a wooden bowl

How to make this Tomato Cucumber Salad

  1. Chop vegetables.
  2. Whisk together dressing.
  3. Toss together.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
    It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Storage Tip

Keep this Tomato Cucumber Salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Tomato Cucumber Salad in a wooden bowl

Variations

Additions

Chickpeas: Drain and rinse a can or two of chickpeas and add to the mixture. This will add different textures, plus a good source of plant-based proteins

Feta cheese: I love feta cheese. Hold off on seasoning with salt and pepper at the end after tasting with the feta cheese. Feta cheese will add salt to the dish, so maybe a little sprinkle of pepper will be fine. Also, if making this dish in advance, add feta just before serving.

Red onions: The key is to thinly slice red onions, so they don’t overpower the whole dish. If you are looking for something a little sweeter or more tang, try adding my Quick Pickled Onions.

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baby cucumbers with cherry tomatoes in a wooden bowl

Tomato Cucumber Salad

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Total Time: 10
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: salad
  • Method: no cook
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Light and refreshing salad to compliment any spring or summer dish. 


Scale

Ingredients

3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
8 mini cucumbers, sliced into coins
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
salt and ground black pepper, to taste


Instructions

  1. Add cherry tomatoes and cucumbers to a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and red wine vinegar. Drizzle over cucumber and tomatoes. Add basil.
  3. Toss everything to coat. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Notes

Variations:
– Add chickpeas
– Add feta cheese

Keywords: cucumber, tomato, salad, no cook, vegetables, low carb, recipe

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Sesame, Carrot, & Cucumber Salad

Ribbon sliced vegetables in an Asian dressing is light and refreshing. This Sesame, Carrot, & Cucumber Salad is perfect for warmer weather and also a delicious change from a traditional salad.

Sesame, Carrot, & Cucumber Salad via Chef Julie Harrington, RD @ChefJulieRD - refreshing and light Asian inspired salad. #saladsthatdontsuck #carrot #cucumber #salad #Asiandressing #lowcarb #healthy #recipe

Utilize your vegetable peeler a little more than just removing the skin. No need for a fancy spiralizer. Simply continue to peel using your vegetable peeler to create delicate vegetable ribbons.

What are English Cucumbers?

I specifically used English cucumbers in this recipe. Why? Because English cucumbers (also known as burp-less, seedless, or hothouse cucumbers) taste is less bitter than conventional cucumbers, are milder and almost have a hint of sweetness. You can find them in the produce aisle wrapped in plastic. Conventional cucumbers are waxed protecting their skin, whereas English cucumbers are not and have a thinner more delicate skin that is protected by the wrapping.

Switch it up from your traditional lettuce-based salads and try something new! This quick and easy Sesame, Carrot, & Cucumber Salad is perfect to switch up your salad game in the warmer months.

Want to turn it more into a meal? Try adding shrimp on top.

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Sesame, Carrot, & Cucumber Salad in a white bowl with a vegetable peeler

Sesame, Carrot, & Cucumber Salad

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Total Time: 15
  • Yield: 46 1x
  • Category: side dish
  • Method: no cook
  • Cuisine: Asian

Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 English cucumbers
  • 2 large carrots, peeled 
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel carrots and cucumbers into ribbons. Combine the cucumbers and carrots in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, rice vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Toss the cucumbers and carrots with the dressing. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Chill for 20 minutes before serving.

Keywords: sesame, cucumber, carrot, salad, no cook, side dish, healthy, low carb

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Make PERFECT Hard Boiled and Soft Boiled Eggs in the Instant Pot

Do you have an Instant Pot and don’t know where to start? I am still getting the hang of it, but I’ve mastered how to make PERFECT hard-boiled and soft-boiled eggs in the Instant Pot.

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by the American Egg Board and the Egg Nutrition Center. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible!

Make PERFECT Hard Boiled and Soft Boiled Eggs in the Instant Pot #instantpot #protein #cookingtip #healthy #breakfast #snack #eggs

Did you know?

215,000+ Amazon customers purchased the Instant Pot on Prime Day alone. Now that it’s in everyone’s kitchen they are looking for new recipes to try.

The Instant Pot is a single appliance that does the job of seven (yes, seven!) different kitchen appliances. It can handle the tasks of a slow cooker, electric pressure cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, sauté/browning pan, and a warming pot. Think of all those appliances taking up space in your kitchen that can be replaced by one.

New to using the Instant Pot? Learn about these seven tips of efficiently using your Instant Pot.

While I am still learning all the functions of the Instant Pot, the first technique I mastered was preparing hard and soft-boiled eggs.

Make PERFECT Hard Boiled and Soft Boiled Eggs in the Instant Pot #instantpot #protein #cookingtip #healthy #breakfast #snack #eggs

Don’t fear the yolk!

One large egg has 6 grams of high-quality protein and all 9 essential amino acids. Nearly half the protein is in the yolk so don’t ditch the yolk!

Eggs were once avoided and criticized for their cholesterol content. However, the totality of scientific research has shown no or little effect between dietary cholesterol and cardiac outcomes or markers of heart disease risk in healthy individuals.

Government and health organizations have revised their dietary cholesterol recommendations. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans place no daily limit on dietary cholesterol intake. Foods like egg yolks and some shellfish are higher in dietary cholesterol but not saturated fats making them a healthful choice along with healthy eating patterns.

Make PERFECT Hard Boiled and Soft Boiled Eggs in the Instant Pot #instantpot #protein #cookingtip #healthy #breakfast #snack #eggs

Why the Instant Pot method works:

Now, I know making hard-boiled eggs on the stovetop is not too challenging, but this Instant Pot method makes it even simpler and in just 5 minutes, they are ready. Plus, there is a science behind why cooking eggs in the Instant Pot make them easier to peel. The reason according to Alton Brown is:

“Eggs that are quickly heated are easier to peel than eggs that are slowly heated, say in cold water brought to a boil. Fast cooking prevents the white from bonding so epoxy-like to the outer membranes. Since pressure steamers can generate temperatures between 230 and 250 degrees F it is suspected that this is actually why folks think they’re magic egg machines.” Also, thorough cooling eases peeling by allowing the proteins in the albumen to fully set and harden, thus preventing tearing.

Make PERFECT Hard Boiled and Soft Boiled Eggs in the Instant Pot #instantpot #protein #cookingtip #healthy #breakfast #snack #eggs

Hard-boiled eggs are something I pretty much meal prep every week for myself. One large egg has varying amounts of 13 essential vitamins and minerals, including choline plus the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, all just for 70 calories.

Hard Boiled Eggs will keep up to a week in your refrigerator. Make a few perfect hard-boiled eggs to create into delicious recipes throughout the week.

A few ways I use hard-boiled eggs are:
  • Pair hard-boiled eggs with avocado and tomato. I usually just add a little salt and pepper, but when I’m looking to add an extra pop of flavor, I add everything but the bagel, sesame seasoning blend.
  • For a filling snack, try my version of a “quick deviled egg”. Scoop out the yolk, mix with hummus and fill back in the egg white.

 

Looking for more recipe ideas?

 

Make PERFECT Hard Boiled and Soft Boiled Eggs in the Instant Pot #instantpot #protein #cookingtip #healthy #breakfast #snack #eggs

(source)

 

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hard boiled eggs on a gray plate

Make PERFECT Hard Boiled and Soft Boiled Eggs in the Instant Pot

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 3
  • Cook Time: 5
  • Total Time: 8 minutes
  • Yield: 5 1x
  • Method: Instant Pot

Description

Make PERFECT Hard Boiled and Soft Boiled Eggs in the Instant Pot EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.


Scale

Ingredients

Ingredients:
Eggs (up to as many that can fit in an even layer in your Instant Pot – do not stack)
1 cup water

Equipment:
Instant Pot with the rack


Instructions

Place the rack in the bottom of the pot. Pour the water in the pot. Place the eggs on the rack.

For soft-boiled:
Set Instant pot on high pressure on manual 3 minutes. Quick release placing a towel over the valve. Quickly add eggs to a bowl with cold water and ice until cool enough to hold. Peel right away.

For hard-boiled:
Set Instant Pot on high pressure on manual 5 minutes. Natural release 5 minutes then use quick release placing a towel over the valve. Quickly add eggs to a bowl with cold water and ice until cool enough to hold. Peel right away.


Keywords: eggs, instant pot, meal prep

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Chef Julie Harrington, RD - Culinary Nutrition Consultant of julieharringtonrd.com

Make PERFECT Hard Boiled and Soft Boiled Eggs in the Instant Pot #instantpot #protein #cookingtip #healthy #breakfast #snack #eggs

Want to learn more?

Visit: https://www.eggnutritioncenter.org/
Follow: Instagram & Twitter

Make PERFECT Hard Boiled and Soft Boiled Eggs in the Instant Pot #instantpot #protein #cookingtip #healthy #breakfast #snack #eggs

 

Make PERFECT Hard Boiled and Soft Boiled Eggs in the Instant Pot #instantpot #protein #cookingtip #healthy #breakfast #snack #eggs

Chicken Pesto Kabobs

Need some new grilling inspiration? Try these simple and flavorful Chicken Pesto Kabobs!

Chicken Pesto Kabobs + learn the difference between charcoal and gas #grills via Chef Julie Harrington, RD @ChefJulie_RD #kabobs #grill #grilling #chicken #pesto #simplerecipe

Fire up the grill! Any grill will do, but there are advantages and disadvantages of using both charcoal or gas grills.

Charcoal vs. Gas Grills – What’s the difference?

Charcoal Grills:

Charcoal grills provide a more distinct smoky flavor along with that amazing backyard aroma. It’s such a tease when I’m running through the neighborhood and all I smell are my neighbors grilling. Scented wood chips or charcoal will add additional flavor. However, charcoal can be a little messy and sometimes tricky to regulate the temperature.

Gas Grills:

Just turn on a switch and your gas grill is fired up and ready to go. You are able to easily regulate the temperature and often gas grills have different settings that you can easily regulate areas of the grill at different temperatures. You won’t really get that smoky flavor, but you are able to cook various items on the grill at the same time.

Chicken Pesto Kabobs + learn the difference between charcoal and gas #grills via Chef Julie Harrington, RD @ChefJulie_RD #kabobs #grill #grilling #chicken #pesto #simplerecipe

I like to create little ribbons for the zucchini to thread on the skewers. Chopped (quartered or in half moons) zucchini works just as fine! I just enjoy the crispy edges of the zucchini ribbons that crisp up from the grilling process.

If you are making zucchini ribbons, just be careful using the mandolin. They can be a tad dangerous. I got into a fight with mine once.

Chicken Pesto Kabobs + learn the difference between charcoal and gas #grills via Chef Julie Harrington, RD @ChefJulie_RD #kabobs #grill #grilling #chicken #pesto #simplerecipe

Grilling is a healthy cooking method

Grilling is a healthy cooking method to prepare your food. It requires minimal added fats and imparts a smoky flavor while keeping meats and veggies juicy and tender.

Recipe shortcut

There is nothing wrong with cooking with convenience. If using prepared pesto this recipe only has 4 ingredients and can be whipped up for a delicious dinner in no time!

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chicken pesto kabobs on a wooden board

Chicken Pesto Kabobs

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 12 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 12 mins
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Grilling

Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 cup pre-made pesto, divided
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large resealable bag, combine chicken and ¾ cup pesto; marinate for 1 hour.
  2. Using a mandolin (or carefully cut with a knife), slice zucchini lengthwise.
  3. Remove chicken from the marinade. Thread the cherry tomatoes, zucchini in a ribbon-like pattern, then chicken. Repeat until skewer is filled.
  4. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Add kebobs to grill, cook gently turning halfway through for about 10-12 minutes or until internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees F. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. Brust on additional pesto, if desired. Serve immediately.

Keywords: grilling, grill, kabob, chicken, pesto, simple

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Chef Julie Harrington, RD - Culinary Nutrition Consultant of julieharringtonrd.com

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Chicken Pesto Kabobs + learn the difference between charcoal and gas #grills via Chef Julie Harrington, RD @ChefJulie_RD #kabobs #grill #grilling #chicken #pesto #simplerecipe

This recipe was originally posted in July 2016. Content and recipe have been updated.

Greek Pasta Salad

Did you know April 23rd is picnic day? What are your favorite picnic recipes? Add this Greek Pasta Salad to your next picnic spread.
Greek pasta salad - Banza (chickpea) pasta salad with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, chickpeas, feta cheese, in a white dish
I had many summer jobs during high school and in between college semesters. One of them was at an outdoor catering business. We did a lot of BBQ’s and graduation parties, which served the classic outdoor fair, including burgers, hot dogs, barbeque chicken, and ribs. Plus, the typical sides like, potato salad, pasta, salad, and coleslaw.

Making the sides was one of the tasks I simply dreaded. With catering, every recipe is made in mass quantities to serve a crowd.
Do you have a certain food or ingredient that just skeeves you out? For me it’s mayonnaise. For a large party, I would have to make potato salad in these large buckets and wear these giant gloves to toss the mayonnaise in.
Greek pasta salad - Banza (chickpea) pasta salad with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, chickpeas, feta cheese, in a white dish
I used Banza pasta for this recipe. I feel like there are never enough plant-based protein options available at barbeques. This is a great way to have a protein-packed option for those who don’t eat meat and want to enjoy this as more of a meal than a side dish.

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chickpea pasta with vegetables in a white bowl

Greek Pasta Salad

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 8
  • Total Time: 18 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: pasta, side dish

Description

Everyone will love it when you bring this Greek Pasta Salad to your next BBQ!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces box rotini Banza pasta (or pasta of your choice)
  • 1-pint cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 seedless cucumber, peeled and quartered
  • 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
  2. In a large bowl combine, pasta, tomatoes, cucumbers, chickpeas, and olives.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, and oregano. Season with salt to taste.
  4. Drizzle dressing over pasta salad and toss to combine. Gently fold in feta cheese just before serving.

Keywords: pasta salad, side dish, vegetarian

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Check out some more picnic inspired recipes. Click on the link below.

Chef Julie Harrington, RD - Culinary Nutrition Consultant of julieharringtonrd.com

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Greek pasta salad - Banza (chickpea) pasta salad with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, chickpeas, feta cheese, in a white dish

Sweet Potato Flax Waffles

Make these Sweet Potato Flax Waffles for a delicious weekend breakfast, and freeze for later to enjoy during a busy week.  

Sweet Potato Flax Waffles via Chef Julie Harrington, RD @ChefJulie_RD Make these Sweet Potato Flax Waffles for a delicious weekend breakfast, and freeze for later to enjoy during a busy week.  #sweetpotato #waffles #breakfast #brunch #flax #flaxseed #freezerfriendly

I go through phases where my waffle iron is always being used daily but then sits there collecting dust. I think it’s because sometimes I get sick of cleaning it. You have to get into all the nooks and crannies to make sure you don’t miss anything.

The good thing about making waffles in the waffle iron is they freeze and reheat well. Just pop them into a toaster like any frozen waffle and it’s ready to go.

Sweet Potato Flax Waffles via Chef Julie Harrington, RD @ChefJulie_RD Make these Sweet Potato Flax Waffles for a delicious weekend breakfast, and freeze for later to enjoy during a busy week.  #sweetpotato #waffles #breakfast #brunch #flax #flaxseed #freezerfriendly

I used to get SO excited when we would stay at a hotel that had a continental breakfast and we could make Belgium waffles for breakfast. It was always an extra little treat!

Sweet Potato Flax Waffles via Chef Julie Harrington, RD @ChefJulie_RD Make these Sweet Potato Flax Waffles for a delicious weekend breakfast, and freeze for later to enjoy during a busy week.  #sweetpotato #waffles #breakfast #brunch #flax #flaxseed #freezerfriendly

Being the foodie as I am, I put it on my holiday wish list one year and was so excited when my secret Santa gifted one to me. I was oddly specific when I put it on my wishlist, that I wanted a circle waffle iron. I guess because those are the ones I remembered as a child at the hotels? Well, thank you secret Santa, because so many waffles have been made since then.

Sweet Potato Flax Waffles via Chef Julie Harrington, RD @ChefJulie_RD Make these Sweet Potato Flax Waffles for a delicious weekend breakfast, and freeze for later to enjoy during a busy week.  #sweetpotato #waffles #breakfast #brunch #flax #flaxseed #freezerfriendly

Team Waffle or Team Pancake?

I’ve mentioned before that I used to be a waffle person over pancake person, only because I used to be terrible at flipping them. I think my skills have improved though.
This batter can easily be used for pancakes as well.
Waffle pros: They freeze and reheat better than pancakes (in my opinion).
Waffle cons: You only can really make one at a time, whereas with a large enough pan, you can easily make a few pancakes at a time.

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sweet potato waffles on a white plate with bananas and walnuts

Sweet Potato Flax Waffles

  • Author: Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: makes 8 waffles 1x
  • Category: breakfast, waffles

Description

Make these Sweet Potato Flax Waffles for a delicious weekend breakfast, and freeze for later to enjoy during a busy week.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup sweet potato puree (about 1 medium sweet potato – baked and flesh scooped out)
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup ground flax (I used Manitoba Milling Co.)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • cooking spray
  • toppings: sliced banana, walnuts, maple syrup (optional)

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. Let batter sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Preheat waffle iron to medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray.
  3. Pour 1/3 cup of batter into waffle iron. Cook until desired consistency (about 3-4 minutes per side).
  4. Top waffles with sliced bananas, walnuts, and syrup, if desired.

Notes

To make sweet potato puree: Score a sweet potato with a paring knife. Wrap in tin foil and bake until soft. When cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and puree.

Meal Prep: Make a batch of these waffles ahead of time. They freeze well. Just pop them in the toaster to warm up.

I used Manitoba Milling Co. finely milled flax seed, which is almost like the consistency of flour. If using coarse ground flax, more liquid may be needed. 

Keywords: waffles, breakfast, sweet potato, grain free, gluten free

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Disclosure: This recipe was submitted to for a recipe contest and eligible to win prizes. I was not compensated for my time.  

Chef Julie Harrington, RD - Culinary Nutrition Consultant of julieharringtonrd.com

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Sweet Potato Flax Waffles via Chef Julie Harrington, RD @ChefJulie_RD Make these Sweet Potato Flax Waffles for a delicious weekend breakfast, and freeze for later to enjoy during a busy week.  #sweetpotato #waffles #breakfast #brunch #flax #flaxseed #freezerfriendly

Oat Flour Pancakes

These pancakes are whole grain and gluten-free, making them a perfect fit for any pancake enthusiast!

oat flour pancakes stacked on a white plate

Why I love Oat Flour Pancakes

I used to be “anti pancake” because I am the worst at flipping them. Really, it was that I was impatient and tried to flip them too early before they set.

When my sisters and I were little, my dad was the only one who was allowed to cut our pancakes. He would keep them perfectly stacked and cut them into perfect triangles. I was more of a syrup dunker than a drizzler. I would take each triangle and dunk it into the “good syrup”. My aunt lives in Vermont and she would send us delicious locally made maple syrup.

gluten free pancakes on a white plate topped with wild blueberries

Using whole grains for pancakes

The problem with pancakes is that I never felt satisfied after eating them. Adding whole grains as the base of pancakes can help solve that solution.

I used oat flour as the base. You could just buy oat flour, but it’s pretty easy to make. Just take rolled oats or instant oats and pulse them in a food processor until they resemble a light fluffy flour. Oat flour still contains all part of the whole grain, but not as dense as whole wheat flour, yielding a fluffier pancake.

oat flour pancakes with blueberries

The secret to creating fluffy pancakes

Vinegar in pancakes? Yes! It’s the secret to help activate the baking powder and helps the pancakes puff and become fluffy.

I’ve tried some other methods like adding seltzer to the batter or whipping the egg whites separately from the egg yolks before combining them. Both methods do work, but I don’t always have seltzer on hand, and mixing egg whites separately makes more messy bowls. I don’t know about you, but the fewer dishes to clean, the better!

Oat flour pancakes cut with wild blueberries

Syrup dunker or drizzler?

Are you a syrup dunker or drizzler? Most of the time I ditch the syrup and use frozen fruit like wild blueberries. When frozen berries defrost they become all gooey and syrupy. Other times, I’ll spread peanut butter or yogurt between the layers. I really just go with what I’m craving at the time.
How do you top your pancakes?

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stack of oat flour pancakes on a white plate with blueberries

Oat Flour Pancakes

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 23 1x
  • Category: pancakes, breakfast

Description

These oat flour pancakes are whole grain and gluten-free, making them a perfect fit for any pancake enthusiast!


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cup oat flour (see notes)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk (or non-dairy milk of choice)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 eggs

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine oat flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Stir to combine.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, add milk, vanilla, apple cider vinegar, canola oil, and eggs; whisk together.
  3. Slowly add wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until it just comes together. (do not overmix)
  4. Let batter sit for 5-7 minutes. It will thicken.
  5. Lightly spray a hot griddle with cooking spray.
  6. Use a 1/2 measuring cup to scoop the pancake batter onto the griddle.
  7. Let the pancakes bubble before flipping. Cook until golden brown on both sides.

Notes

Make your own oat flour:
Place either rolled oats or instant oats in a food processor at high speed. Process until it turns into fine oat flour.

Batter makes 6 medium-sized pancakes.

Keywords: pancakes, breakfast, whole grain, brunch

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*This recipe was originally posted in 2014. A new picture has been updated in 2018.

Pineapple Beef Stir Fry

Beef stir fry in a white bowl with white rice

This post is sponsored by The Beef Checkoff. Thanks for supporting brands that make this blog possible!

Dietitians are celebrating all month long because March is National Nutrition Month! This year’s theme is “Go Further with Food”. This theme encourages us to achieve the numerous benefits healthy eating habits offer while including a variety of healthful foods from all of the food groups on a regular basis.

Beef Up Nutrition Month - Understanding Beef Labeling + Pineapple Beef Stir Fry Recipe via RDelicious Kitchen @RD_Kitchen #sponsored by The Beef Checkoff

Previously working as a Supermarket RD, I quickly learned that a grocery store is a confusing place, especially in certain areas like the meat section.

It can be challenging grocery shopping for beef if you are unsure of the difference between flank steak and skirt steak. The different costs, categories, or even proper cooking techniques of various cuts of beef can throw off even a savvy home cook.

pineapple beef stir fry in a pan

At the supermarket meat case, each beef package label typically identifies the primal cut and the sub-primal cut name. It also includes the weight, price per pound, total price, sell-by date, and safe handling instructions. It may also include a grade, nutrition and preparation information, and the country of origin.

Understanding Beef Labeling + Pineapple Beef Stir Fry Recipe via RDelicious Kitchen @RD_Kitchen #sponsored by The Beef Checkoff #beef #stirfry #dinner #nutrition

It’s time to “Beef Up Nutrition Month” with decoding what the labels mean in the supermarket meat case.

BEEF QUALITY GRADING

The USDA divides beef into categories by different grades. Prime, Choice, and Select are the ones you will see at the grocery store.  The certain qualifications that determine the quality grade of beef are:

  • Distribution of marbling within the lean muscle at the 12th/13th rib
  • Age/maturity of the carcass
  • Color, texture, & firmness of the lean muscle

Prime-Grade Beef is the USDA’s highest designation. Coming from younger, well-fed cattle, this beef has more marbling with a firmer flesh. Prime-grade beef accounts for less than approximately five percent of the market in the United States, with the vast majority going to steakhouses and fancy hotels. Prime roasts and steaks are excellent for roasting, grilling, or broiling.


Choice-Grade Beef is of high quality and produced in highest quantity. Choice-grade beef has less marbling than Prime.  This is the standard option at supermarkets. Choice roast and steaks, especially from the rib and loin, will be very tender, juicy, and flavorful when roasted, grilled, or broiled. Less tender cuts are great for slow cooking.


Select-Grade Beef is slightly leaner than Prime and Choice because it has less marbling.  It can lack some tenderness, flavor, and juiciness as compared to the higher grades. Select grade beef often benefits from marinating prior to grilling or broiling. 1


Check out this easy to explore chart, outlining the various Grades of Beef.

NATURAL, GRASS-FED, ORGANIC – WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

Beyond just the quality grade, beef comes along with additional labels. Package labeling can be very confusing.

All cattle spend the majority of their lives eating grass on pastures. But beef can be finished in a variety of ways, giving you choices when at the meat case in your local grocery store or at a restaurant.

“Natural” This label implies the beef has no artificial ingredients or colors added to it an is minimally processed. 2

“Naturally Raised” does have validity. As of 2009, the label ensures that the animals are free of antibiotics, never received growth-promoting hormones, never fed animal by-products, and may spend time at a feed yard. Naturally raised cattle may be either grain- or grass-finished.

“100% Organic Beef” means that the animals must be fed completely organic feed grains and have never received antibiotics and growth-promoting hormones. This is certified and inspected by the government. Organic beef cattle may be either grain- or grass-finished, as long as the USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service certifies the feed is 100% organically grown and can be fed in a feed yard. 3

“Grass Finished” cattle spend their lives eating grass or foraging, but not always necessarily stay on a 100 percent grass-fed diet or finished on grass.  Some “grass-fed” cattle are still fed grain for their last few weeks to help fatten the cattle. Grass-fed cattle may or may not be given FDA-approved antibiotics to treat, prevent, or control disease and/or growth-promoting hormones. 2

Learn how to Decode the Label with this simple infographic.

Need help choosing lean beef or wondering what type of cooking method works best? Use the Beef. It’s what’s for dinner’s cooking guide.

WHY BEEF?

Beef provides you with 10 essential nutrients that support a heart-healthy lifestyle including protein, zinc, iron and B vitamins. The nutrients found in beef provide our bodies with the strength to thrive and grow throughout all the stages of life.

Beef is an excellent source of protein.

One 3-ounce cooked serving of beef provides approximately 50% of your Daily Value (25 grams) of this important nutrient—making it an excellent source! Protein helps maintain a healthy weight, as well as preserve and build muscle.

New research suggests it’s not only important to just get enough protein in at dinner or lunch but to spread it throughout your day for optimal health. Aim for 25-30 grams of protein at each meal. 4,5

What is considered lean?

6 Look for the word “round” or “loin” in its name when choosing lean cuts of beef.

Lean cuts include top sirloin steak, tenderloin steak, strip steak (or top loin steak), or 95% lean ground beef.

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pineapple beef stir fry with white rice in a white bowl

Pineapple Beef Stir Fry Recipe

  • Author: Chef Julie Harrington, RD
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: dinner

Description

Whip up this simple and delicious stir-fry for dinner.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 (8-ounce) can pineapple tidbits, 3 tablespoons juice reserved
  • 5 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 lb. flank steak, cut into strips
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 3 tsp sesame oil, divided
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup snap peas
  • 1 sweet pepper, sliced

Instructions

  1. Whisk the reserved 3 tbsp pineapple juice, vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup, and sugar in a small bowl until smooth. Place beef in a medium bowl; toss with 2 tablespoons of the sauce. Let marinate for 20 minutes.
  2. Add cornstarch to the remaining sauce and whisk until smooth.
  3. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Transfer the beef to the pan. Whisk any remaining marinade into the bowl of sauce. Cook the beef, stirring every 1 to 2 minutes, until tender, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer the beef to a plate.
  4. Add the remaining 1 tsp oil to the pan and heat over medium heat. Add garlic, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms, snap peas and sweet pepper to cook, stirring often, until just tender, about 3 minutes. Pour in the sauce and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 30 seconds. Add the beef and pineapple and cook, until heated through.
  5. Serve over rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice.

Keywords: stir fry, beef, dinner

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other recipes you may enjoy

Learn more about the health benefits of beef via Snacking in Sneakers
Fun Facts About Beef: Nutrients, Recipes, and a Free Printable Placemat! via Mama Teaches
Fresh Homemade Cheesy Beef-a-Roni via Brooklyn Active Mama
Slow Cooker Cuban Shredded Beef via Snacking in Sneakers
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References:
1. Inspection & Grading of Meat and Poultry: What Are the Differences?
2. Meat & Poultry Labeling Terms
3. Organic Labeling Standards
4. Paddon-Jones D, Rasmussen BB. Dietary protein recommendations and the prevention of sarcopenia. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 2009;12:86-90
5. Mamerow MM, et al. Dietary protein distribution positively influences 24-h muscle protein synthesis in healthy adults. J Nutr 2014;144:876-80
6. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety, and Inspection Service. Beef from Farm to Table. Available at: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/c33b69fe-7041-4f50-9dd0-d098f11d1f13/Beef_from_Farm_to_Table.pdf?MOD=AJPERES
Grades of Beef
Decode the Label

Homemade Pizza Dough

Enjoy a cozy pizza night in with this easy Homemade Pizza Dough. Just add your favorite toppings!
Homemade Pizza Dough via RDelicious Kitchen @RD_Kitchen #pizza #dough #homemade #baking #knead #dinner #kidfriendly

Growing up, it was pizza night every Friday night at my house. Living in the NJ/NY area, I grew up eating delicious slices of pizza. When I went to Rhode Island for college, I was in for a rude awakening. Sorry, RI – your pizza just does not compare. I even tried deep-dish pizza a few months ago when I was in Chicago for FNCE. It was good, but still, NJ/NY pizza wins overall. (well.. according to me)
Homemade Pizza Dough via RDelicious Kitchen @RD_Kitchen #pizza #dough #homemade #baking #knead #dinner #kidfriendly
I’ve bought the pre-made pizza dough in the refrigerated section of the grocery when I wanted to make pizza at home, but it always becomes tough when rolled out leaving a thin, dense crust.

I enjoy baking, but I admit not the best baker, mainly because I don’t like measuring precisely and also I’m not patient. Like waiting for the dough to rise, I was tempted to keep sneaking a look to check the progress. Plus, baking with yeast can be tricky.
Homemade Pizza Dough via RDelicious Kitchen @RD_Kitchen #pizza #dough #homemade #baking #knead #dinner #kidfriendly
I recently made two batches and my family came over and we all made our own personal pizzas. It’s a fun meal to get everyone involved.

What is your favorite pizza topping?

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pizza dough on a marble slab

Homemade Pizza Dough

  • Author: Julie @ RDelicious Kitchen
  • Yield: 2 pounds dough (for 1 large pizza) 1x

Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 (1/4 ounce) packets active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt

Instructions

  1. Pour warm water into a large bowl; sprinkle with yeast and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Whisk sugar, oil, and salt into yeast mixture. Add flour and stir until a sticky dough forms. Start with a whisk, when you will need to need to stir with a spatula once dough starts to come together.
  3. Transfer dough to another bowl, coated with cooking spray. Cover bowl with a warm damp towel and set aside in a warm place until dough has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
  4. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface, punch dough down, and gently knead 1 or 2 times before using.
  5. Roll out and top with your favorite toppings.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.

For best pizza results, bake in the oven at 500 degrees F on a baking stone.

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Chef Julie Harrington, RD - Culinary Nutrition Consultant of julieharringtonrd.com

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Homemade Pizza Dough via RDelicious Kitchen @RD_Kitchen #pizza #dough #homemade #baking #knead #dinner #kidfriendly