The Perfect Diabetes Comfort Food Collection: 9 Essential Recipes You Need To Create 90 Amazing Complete Meals

Chapter 1: Burgers

The Basic Burger

Zesty Salmon Burgers

Chickpea Patties with Mango Chutney

Spiced Turkey Burgers

Juicy Lamb Burgers

Asian Style Pork Burgers

Fresh Tuna Burgers

Meatloaf Burgers

Italian Meatball Burgers

Spicy Mustard Sauce

The Principles of Burger Making

For as long as Americans have had indoor and outdoor grills and broilers, the quest for making the perfect burger has been one that every home cook strives for. The burger pairs well with so many side dishes. I learned how to make the best burger from the chefs at the hotel where I grew up. They taught me the “blueprint for burgers” that I could easily change by just substituting different meats. I grew so confident in the burger-making business, that making seafood and vegetarian versions produced the same great results. And the truth is, even though creating the perfect burger looks straightforward, it’s the little nuances you need to perfect. The first lesson? Don’t overcomplicate making burgers; proper cooking technique is key. Just follow these simple instructions:

1. Cook your burgers in a cast iron skillet, not the grill. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but the cast iron skillet or griddle is the perfect piece of equipment to get that crusty burger. With a skillet, all the juices remain in the pan, and you want to capture and retain that flavor.

2. Don’t form large burgers. In keeping with your dietary plan, make burgers relatively small, approximately 4 ounces each. In addition, you must get the heat to the center of the burger and too much meat will produce a giant undercooked meat loaf.

3. Don’t over-handle the meat. When you rough-handle the meat, you’ll cause the meat to compact and it will end up tough and dry after cooking.

4. Have the butcher grind the meat for you. This might sound like a luxury, but in fact most butchers are happy to do this for you and often the quality is much better. Pre-ground meat can be too fine, causing it to feel mushy. Ask your butcher to coarse-grind the meat.

5. Keep the meat in the refrigerator until you are ready to use.

6. Use medium heat for cooking burgers. No need to set the heat up so high to show off, just a steady medium heat will do.

7. All the burgers in this chapter are cooked in a small amount of fat. This is to keep the burgers juicy and to help form a crust. I wouldn’t skip this step, but do check about your daily fat allotment.

Once you can create the Basic Burger, the Spiced Turkey BurgerJuicy Lamb BurgerAsian Style Pork BurgersMeatloaf Burgers, and Italian Meatball Burgers are created in the same format, with just a few additional ingredients. Resist the temptation to throw the contents of the refrigerator and pantry into a burger. The best burgers taste clean and pure with the great flavor of lean meat shining through.

The Zesty Salmon and Fresh Tuna Burgers are handled a little differently. You will form compact burgers so they don’t fall apart in the skillet. I recommend always using fresh fish for these instead of canned. There’s nothing wrong with canned fish products, but fresh seafood is easier to work with and the texture will be silky, almost buttery, as compared with the drier texture of the canned product. The Chickpea Patties with Mango Chutney are a great jumping-off point for experimenting with any kind of beans. Remember that beans are like blank canvases, and unlike beef, turkey, and pork, they need additional ingredients to make them taste delicious.

All the toppings for these burgers primarily consist of lettuce and tomato. I believe that burgers should be simple and underdressed—after all, the burger is the star here. A little good-quality ketchup or mustard works nicely. In the case of the Meatloaf Burgers (which use a typical meatloaf sauce), simple sauces keep your burgers nicely unadorned. Depending on your dietary plan, choose to add a bun, or not. If so, choose a whole-wheat or multi-grain whole-wheat bun or roll. Or try a whole-wheat pita bread or tortilla wrap. But honestly, these burgers are so good all by themselves—I recommend just grabbing your fork and knife and digging in!

The Basic Burger

Serves: 6 | Serving size: 1 burger | Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 8 minutes

For this basic burger, I’d buy grass-fed, organic meat if you can. It may or may not be a bit pricier than what you’d usually pay; however, I think the taste is worth it. The chuck beef will produce a slightly juicier burger than the ground sirloin, but by following this recipe exactly, you can’t go wrong with either choice of beef.

1 pound lean 95% fat-free ground chuck or sirloin, preferably coarse grind

1/4 cup finely minced onion, shallot, or scallion

1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

4 slices fresh tomato

4 lettuce leaves

Mustard or low-sugar ketchup (optional)

4 whole-grain buns, toasted (optional)

1. Combine the beef with the onion and form into six patties (handling the meat as little as possible) and sprinkle with salt.

2. Spray a large cast iron skillet with nonstick cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add the patties and cook for 4 minutes per side.

3. Serve with a slice of tomato, a leaf of lettuce, and mustard or ketchup. Serve with or without whole-grain buns.

Exchanges / Choices: 2 Protein, lean

Calories 100; Calories from Fat 30; Total Fat 3.5 g; Saturated Fat 1.6 g; Trans Fat 0.1 g; Cholesterol 45 mg; Sodium 350 mg; Potassium 270 mg; Total Carbohydrate 1 g; Dietary Fiber 0 g; Sugars 1 g; Protein 15 g; Phosphorus 135 mg

Sides

Roasted Pepper Salad

Serves: 6 | Serving size: 1 cup | Prep time: 30 minutes | Cook time: 35 minutes

2 large red peppers

2 large yellow or orange peppers

2 large green peppers

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 small garlic clove, very finely chopped or crushed

Garnish

12 black olives, pitted

A handful of small fresh basil leaves

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Brush the peppers with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and arrange them in a shallow roasting pan. Roast for about 35 minutes or until the pepper skins are evenly darkened, turning them 3 or 4 times. Place the peppers in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and leave until they are cool enough to handle.

2. Working over a bowl to catch the juice, peel the peppers. Cut them in half and discard the cores and seeds (strain out any seeds that fall into the juice), then cut into thick slices.

3. Measure 1 1/2 tablespoons of the pepper juice into a small bowl (discard the remainder). Add the vinegar and garlic and whisk in the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

4. Arrange the peppers on a serving platter or on individual salad plates. Drizzle over the dressing and garnish with the olives and basil.

Exchanges / Choices: 2 Nonstarchy Vegetable; 1 Fat

Calories 100; Calories from Fat 50; Total Fat 6.0 g; Saturated Fat 0.8 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 85 mg; Potassium 380 mg; Total Carbohydrate 12 g; Dietary Fiber 3 g; Sugars 6 g; Protein 2 g; Phosphorus 45 mg

Apple with Cinnamon

Serves: 1 | Serving size: 1 apple

1 small (4-ounce) sliced apple

Pinch cinnamon

1. Top apple slices with a pinch of cinnamon

Exchanges / Choices: 1 Fruit

Calories 50; Calories from Fat 0; Total Fat 0.0 g; Saturated Fat 0.0 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 0 mg; Potassium 110 mg; Total Carbohydrate 14 g; Dietary Fiber 3 g; Sugars 11 g; Protein 0 g; Phosphorus 10 mg

Zesty Salmon Burgers

Serves: 4 | Serving size: 1 burger | Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 13 minutes

While frozen salmon burgers are certainly available, freshly made salmon burgers are far superior. Avoid the temptation to purchase canned salmon for this recipe. I prefer wild salmon as its rich taste is more scrumptious than farm-raised salmon. These burgers freeze well. Just place cooked burgers in a freezer container with waxed paper between each one and freeze up to 3 months.

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

1/4 cup finely chopped celery

1 garlic clove, minced

1 pound skinned salmon filet, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/16 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

1 tablespoon olive oil

Sauce

1/4 cup nonfat mayonnaise

1 teaspoon small capers

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

4 thin slices tomato

4 lettuce leaves

1. Heat the olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the red onion, celery, and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the mixture to a bowl and let cool.

2. Add the salmon to a food processor and pulse just until coarsely chopped. Add to the sautéed vegetables.

3. Add the mustard, breadcrumbs, and Old Bay seasoning and mix well. Shape into 4 (3–4 inch) patties.

4. Heat the oil in the cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the salmon burgers and cook 4–5 minutes per side.

5. Combine sauce ingredients.

6. Serve the salmon burgers on whole-grain buns with some of the sauce drizzled on top with a slice of tomato and lettuce. Or serve the salmon bunless with the sauce, tomato, and lettuce.

Exchanges / Choices: 1/2 Carbohydrate; 1 Nonstarchy Vegetable; 3 Protein, lean; 1 1/2 Fat

Calories 270; Calories from Fat 130; Total Fat 14.0 g; Saturated Fat 2.6 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 65 mg; Sodium 330 mg; Potassium 560 mg; Total Carbohydrate 10 g; Dietary Fiber 2 g; Sugars 3 g; Protein 24 g; Phosphorus 345 mg

Sides

Steamed Spinach

Serves: 1 | Serving size: 1/2 cup

1/2 cup spinach

1. Steam spinach for 2 minutes or until wilted.

Exchanges / Choices: 1 Nonstarchy Vegetable

Calories 20; Calories from Fat 0; Total Fat 0.0 g; Saturated Fat 0.0 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 65 mg; Potassium 420 mg; Total Carbohydrate 3 g; Dietary Fiber 2 g; Sugars 0 g; Protein 3 g; Phosphorus 50 mg

Tangerines

Serves: 1 | Serving size: 2 tangerines

2 small tangerines

1. Serve alongside salmon burgers and spinach.

Exchanges / Choices: 1 1/2 Fruit

Calories 80; Calories from Fat 5; Total Fat 0.5 g; Saturated Fat 0.1 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 0 mg; Potassium 250 mg; Total Carbohydrate 20 g; Dietary Fiber 3 g; Sugars 16 g; Protein 1 g; Phosphorus 30 mg

Chickpea Patties with Mango Chutney

Chickpea Patties with Mango Chutney

Serves: 4 | Serving size: 1 patty | Prep time: 12 minutes | Cook time: 14 minutes

My chickpea patties first made their appearance in the pages of Diabetes Forecast magazine. We received so many compliments about this recipe that I want to share it again. Similar in flavor to falafel, but with an Indian flair, these can be prepared, placed on a plate, covered, and refrigerated hours before you plan to cook them.

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 small onion, diced

3 tablespoons minced celery

2 tablespoons minced red bell pepper

2 tablespoons minced parsley

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons curry powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

pinch cayenne

pinch sea salt and pepper

2 cups chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 egg, beaten

1 1/3 cups whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 whole-grain buns, toasted (optional)

4 slices tomato

4 lettuce leaves

1. Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add in the celery, red pepper, parsley, and garlic, and sauté for 2 minutes. Add in the curry powder, cumin, cayenne, and a pinch of sea salt and pepper, if desired, and remove from the heat.

2. Puree the chickpeas in a food processor or blender, adding a little water, if necessary. Pulse until you have a coarse puree. Add the chickpeas to a bowl. Add in the vegetable mixture, egg, and breadcrumbs and mix well. Adjust the seasonings with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.

3. Form the mixture into four patties. Heat the cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. Add the patties and brown on both sides for about 5–6 minutes per side. Add the patties to toasted whole-grain buns and top with tomato, lettuce leaves, and mango chutney, if desired.

Exchanges / Choices: 2 1/2 Starch; 1 Nonstarchy Vegetable; 1 Protein, lean; 1 Fat

Calories 310; Calories from Fat 90; Total Fat 10.0 g; Saturated Fat 1.6 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 45 mg; Sodium 200 mg; Potassium 460 mg; Total Carbohydrate 45 g; Dietary Fiber 10 g; Sugars 7 g; Protein 13 g; Phosphorus 225 mg

Side

Cucumber and Vinegar Salad

Serves: 1 | Serving size: 1 cup

1 cup diced cucumber

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1. Toss cucumber with balsamic vinegar and serve.

Exchanges / Choices: 1 Nonstarchy Vegetable

Calories 20; Calories from Fat 0; Total Fat 0.0 g; Saturated Fat 0.0 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 0 mg; Potassium 160 mg; Total Carbohydrate 5 g; Dietary Fiber 1 g; Sugars 2 g; Protein 1 g; Phosphorus 25 mg

Spiced Turkey Burgers

Serves: 4 | Serving size: 1 burger | Prep time: 8 minutes | Cook time: 14 minutes

My testers couldn’t believe a turkey burger could be this juicy, they tested it several times just to be sure the first test wasn’t some kind of fluke. Cooking the burger in the skillet is the key to keeping the burger moist. The yogurt sauce gives this burger a Moroccan feel. Use the yogurt sauce on chicken and fish as well.

1 1/4 pounds ground turkey

1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup minced parsley

1/4 cup finely minced onion

2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons olive oil

Yogurt Sauce

1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt

2 teaspoons finely minced dill

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

4 whole-grain hamburger buns, toasted (optional)

1. Combine all burger ingredients, except the oil, and form into patties, being careful to handle the meat lightly.

2. Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and turkey burgers. Cook for about 5–7 minutes per side until turkey is cooked through (an internal temperature reading should be 180°F).

3. Combine the ingredients for the Yogurt Sauce. Add the turkey burgers to a whole-grain bun and top with the yogurt sauce. Or serve the turkey burgers with the sauce and without the bun.

Exchanges / Choices: 1/2 Carbohydrate; 5 Protein, lean; 1 Fat

Calories 300; Calories from Fat 140; Total Fat 15.0 g; Saturated Fat 3.6 g; Trans Fat 0.1 g; Cholesterol 140 mg; Sodium 350 mg; Potassium 450 mg; Total Carbohydrate 9 g; Dietary Fiber 1 g; Sugars 2 g; Protein 34 g; Phosphorus 350 mg

Sides

Steamed Carrots

Serves: 1 | Serving size: 1/2 cup

1/2 cup steamed carrots 

1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

1. Top steamed carrots with lemon zest and serve.

Exchanges / Choices: 1 Nonstarchy Vegetable

Calories 25; Calories from Fat 0; Total Fat 0.0 g; Saturated Fat 0.0 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 45 mg; Potassium 180 mg; Total Carbohydrate 6 g; Dietary Fiber 2 g; Sugars 3 g; Protein 1 g; Phosphorus 25 mg

Plums

Serves: 1 | Serving size: 2 plums

2 small plums, halved and pitted

1. Serve plums alongside turkey burger and carrots.

Exchanges / Choices: 1 Fruit

Calories 60; Calories from Fat 5; Total Fat 0.5 g; Saturated Fat 0.0 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 0 mg; Potassium 210 mg; Total Carbohydrate 15 g; Dietary Fiber 2 g; Sugars 13 g; Protein 1 g; Phosphorus 20 mg

Juicy Lamb Burgers

Juicy Lamb Burgers

Serves: 4 | Serving size: 1 burger | Prep time: 8 minutes | Cook time: 8 minutes

Make everyone feel special when you serve them this treat. It’s not every day that you’d serve lamb, but it’s a nice change from beef and turkey. The lamb provides all the juices you need, so there’s no need for cooking oil.

1 pound lean ground lamb (ask butcher to bone lamb, trim off visible fat, and grind)

1/2 cup dry whole-wheat breadcrumbs

1/4 cup diced rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

1/4 cup finely minced shallot

2 tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 tomato slices

4 lettuce leaves

1. Combine all the ingredients for the burger, handling the meat as little as possible. Form into four patties.

2. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the patties and cook for 3–4 minutes per side. Serve with tomato and lettuce on a whole-grain bun or serve bunless.

Exchanges / Choices: 1/2 Starch; 1 Nonstarchy Vegetable; 3 Protein, lean

Calories 190; Calories from Fat 45; Total Fat 5.0 g; Saturated Fat 2.1 g; Trans Fat 0.1 g; Cholesterol 60 mg; Sodium 240 mg; Potassium 620 mg; Total Carbohydrate 15 g; Dietary Fiber 3 g; Sugars 3 g; Protein 22 g; Phosphorus 235 mg

Sides

Asparagus Spears

Serves: 1 | Serving size: 6 spears

6 spears asparagus

Pinch lemon zest

1. Steam asparagus spears for 6-8 minutes and top with lemon zest.

Exchanges / Choices: 1 Nonstarchy Vegetable

Calories 20; Calories from Fat 0; Total Fat 0.0 g; Saturated Fat 0.0 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 15 mg; Potassium 200 mg; Total Carbohydrate 4 g; Dietary Fiber 2 g; Sugars 1 g; Protein 2 g; Phosphorus 50 mg

Plums

Serves: 1 | Serving size: 2 plums

2 small plums, halved and pitted

1. Serve plums alongside lamb burger and asparagus.

Exchanges / Choices: 1 Fruit

Calories 60; Calories from Fat 5; Total Fat 0.5 g; Saturated Fat 0.0 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 0 mg; Potassium 210 mg; Total Carbohydrate 15 g; Dietary Fiber 2 g; Sugars 13 g; Protein 1 g; Phosphorus 20 mg

Asian Style Pork Burgers

Serves: 4 | Serving size: 1 burger | Prep time: 5 minutes | Cook time: 10 minutes

Pork can be terribly dry, but with juices from the finely minced garlic and moisture from the soy sauce, these remain succulent. Using hoisin sauce as a substitute for the ketchup is a fun change. Dark sesame oil imparts rich flavor and a teaspoon goes a long way.

1 pound 96% lean ground pork

1 tablespoon finely minced garlic

1 tablespoon lite soy sauce

2 scallions, finely minced

1 teaspoon dark sesame oil

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

4 slices tomato

4 lettuce leaves

1. Combine the first five ingredients for the burgers, handling the meat as little as possible. Form into four patties.

2. Heat the vegetable oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the burgers and cook for 4–5 minutes per side.

3. Spread each burger with hoisin sauce. Serve with tomato, lettuce, and a toasted whole-grain bun, if desired.

Exchanges / Choices: 1/2 Carbohydrate; 3 Protein, lean; 1 Fat

Calories 220; Calories from Fat 90; Total Fat 10.0 g; Saturated Fat 2.1 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 65 mg; Sodium 350 mg; Potassium 440 mg; Total Carbohydrate 7 g; Dietary Fiber 1 g; Sugars 3 g; Protein 26 g; Phosphorus 225 mg

Sides

Garden Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Serves: 8 | Serving size: 1 cup | Prep time: 7 minutes | Cook time: 4 minutes

3/4 cup walnuts 

2 tablespoons sugar

Dressing

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon coarse Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon honey or sugar

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Salad 

5 cups mixed greens

1 cup halved cherry tomatoes

2 large carrots, peeled and grated

1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced

1. In a small sauté pan or skillet over medium-high heat, toss the walnuts with the sugar for 3 to 4 minutes or until the sugar melts and caramelizes. Watch that the nuts do not burn. Remove the nuts from the pan and let cool.

2. In a large bowl, combine dressing ingredients and whisk well.

3. Add the salad ingredients to the dressing and quickly toss together. Serve on individual plates, top with the nuts.

Exchanges / Choices: 1/2 Carbohydrate; 1 Nonstarchy Vegetable; 2 1/2 Fat

Calories 160; Calories from Fat 120; Total Fat 13.0 g; Saturated Fat 1.4 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 105 mg; Potassium 250 mg; Total Carbohydrate 11 g; Dietary Fiber 2 g; Sugars 7 g; Protein 3 g; Phosphorus 65 mg

Orange

Serves: 1 | Serving size: 1 orange

1 small orange

1. Serve orange alongside pork burgers and salad.

Exchanges / Choices: 1 Fruit

Calories 45; Calories from Fat 0; Total Fat 0.0 g; Saturated Fat 0.0 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 0 mg; Potassium 170 mg; Total Carbohydrate 11 g; Dietary Fiber 2 g; Sugars 9 g; Protein 1 g; Phosphorus 15 mg

Fresh Tuna Burgers

Serves: 4 | Serving size: 1 burger | Prep time: 38 minutes | Cook time: 8 minutes

This burger is prepared and cooked in almost the same fashion as the Salmon Burgers. When buying fresh tuna, look for a beautiful rich red, almost crimson color. There should be no dry edges or brown spots. Ask for a whiff of the tuna before you buy it. Fresh tuna should be odorless.

1 pound fresh tuna steaks, finely chopped

1/2 cup whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 scallions, finely minced

1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 lettuce leaves

4 slices tomato

2 tablespoons coarse Dijon mustard (optional)

1. Combine all burger ingredients and form into patties. Place on a plate and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the patties and cook for 4 minutes per side.

3. Serve the burgers with lettuce, tomato, mustard, and a whole-grain bun, if desired.

Exchanges / Choices: 1/2 Starch; 4 Protein, lean; 1 Fat

Calories 280; Calories from Fat 120; Total Fat 13.0 g; Saturated Fat 2.3 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 45 mg; Sodium 360 mg; Potassium 420 mg; Total Carbohydrate 10 g; Dietary Fiber 2 g; Sugars 2 g; Protein 30 g; Phosphorus 335 mg

Side

Lemon Asparagus Soup

Serves: 12 | Serving size: 1 cup | Prep time: 20 minutes | Cook time: 30 minutes

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small leek, bottom portion only, washed and chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 pounds asparagus, stems trimmed, sliced into 2-inch pieces

2 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed

6 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning

1/2 cup half and half

Garnishes

1 fresh lemon, zested

1/4 cup toasted chopped pistachio nuts

1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the leek, onion, and garlic and sauté for about 7–9 minutes until vegetables are soft. Add in the asparagus, potatoes, and broth. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium, and cook, covered, until potatoes are tender, about 15–17 minutes.

2. Ladle the soup into a food processor or blender and process until the soup is smooth, working in batches if necessary. Return the soup to the saucepan and add in the lemon pepper seasoning and half and half. Heat through for 1 minute.

3. Garnish each bowl with lemon zest and pistachio nuts.

Exchanges / Choices: 1 Starch; 1 Nonstarchy Vegetable; 1/2 Fat

Calories 110; Calories from Fat 30; Total Fat 3.5 g; Saturated Fat 1.1 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 5 mg; Sodium 170 mg; Potassium 510 mg; Total Carbohydrate 17 g; Dietary Fiber 2 g; Sugars 3 g; Protein 5 g; Phosphorus 120 mg;

Meatloaf Burgers

Serves: 4 | Serving size: 1 burger | Prep time: 8 minutes | Cook time: 10 minutes

Everything you love about meatloaf, the ultimate comfort food, is packed into this burger. The three types of meat work together in harmony to provide an excellent range of flavors. Have your butcher grind all the meats for you. I avoid the prepackaged meatloaf mixture found in the meat department. Freshly ground meats make these burgers a special treat.

6 ounces 93% lean ground beef

6 ounces 96% lean ground pork

4 ounces lean ground veal

1/2 cup whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

1/4 cup finely minced shallots

1 egg

1 tablespoon low-sugar, low-sodium ketchup (such as Walden Farms)

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 tablespoons commercial barbecue sauce

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

4 lettuce leaves

4 slices tomato

1. Combine the burger ingredients. Form into patties, handling the meat as little as possible.

2. Heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the burgers and cook for 4–5 minutes per side. Combine the barbecue sauce and mustard in a small bowl. Brush the mixture over the burgers and cover and cook for 1 minute.

3. Serve the burgers with tomato, lettuce, and a whole-grain bun, if desired.

Exchanges / Choices: 1/2 Starch; 1 Nonstarchy Vegetable; 3 Protein, lean; 1 Fat

Calories 260; Calories from Fat 100; Total Fat 11.0 g; Saturated Fat 2.9 g; Trans Fat 0.2 g; Cholesterol 110 mg; Sodium 380 mg; Potassium 500 mg; Total Carbohydrate 16 g; Dietary Fiber 2 g; Sugars 5 g; Protein 25 g; Phosphorus 245 mg

Sides

Fresh Spinach Salad

Serves: 1 | Serving size: 1 1/2 cups

1 cup fresh spinach leaves

5 cherry tomatoes halved

1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon olive oil 

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1. Combine spinach, tomatoes, and onion, and drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.

Exchanges / Choices: 1 Nonstarchy Vegetable; 1 Fat

Calories 70; Calories from Fat 45; Total Fat 5.0 g; Saturated Fat 0.7 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 25 mg; Potassium 360 mg; Total Carbohydrate 7 g; Dietary Fiber 2 g; Sugars 3 g; Protein 2 g; Phosphorus 40 mg

Apple

Serves: 1 | Serving size: 1 apple

1 (4-ounce) apple

Pinch cinnamon

1. Slice apple and sprinkle with a pinch of cinnamon.

Exchanges / Choices: 1 Fruit

Calories 50; Calories from Fat 0; Total Fat 0.0 g; Saturated Fat 0.0 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 0 mg; Potassium 110 mg; Total Carbohydrate 14 g; Dietary Fiber 3 g; Sugars 11 g; Protein 0 g; Phosphorus 10 mg

Italian Meatball Burgers

Serves: 4 | Serving size: 1 burger | Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 10 minutes

Growing up in New York, I had my fair share of the best Italian meatballs served “as is” or stuffed into submarine bread. The aroma of sizzling Italian sausage is a permanent food memory seared into my mind. So, I streamlined a previously high-fat recipe into something that’s more in line with better nutrition.

8 ounces lean turkey sausage, casings removed

4 ounces 93% lean ground beef

4 ounces 96% lean ground pork

1 tablespoon finely minced fresh basil

2 teaspoons fresh minced oregano

1/8 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup low-sodium fat-free marinara sauce, heated

4 fresh basil leaves

1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese

4 whole-grain buns, toasted

1. Combine the burger ingredients. Form into four patties, handling the meat as little as possible.

2. Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the burgers and cook for 4–5 minutes per side.

3. Spoon the heated marinara sauce over the burger, top with a basil leaf, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Serve open-faced on a bun.

Exchanges / Choices: 1/2 Starch; 1 Nonstarchy Vegetable; 3 Protein, lean; 1 Fat

Calories 240; Calories from Fat 110; Total Fat 12.0 g; Saturated Fat 2.8 g; Trans Fat 0.3 g; Cholesterol 65 mg; Sodium 430 mg; Potassium 430 mg; Total Carbohydrate 12 g; Dietary Fiber 2 g; Sugars 3 g; Protein 23 g; Phosphorus 230 mg

Sides

Fresh Spinach Salad

Serves: 1 | Serving size: 1 cup

1 cup fresh spinach leaves 

5 cherry tomatoes, halved 

1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion 

1 teaspoon olive oil 

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

1. Combine first five ingredients and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

Exchanges / Choices: 1 Nonstarchy Vegetable; 1 Fat

Calories 70; Calories from Fat 45; Total Fat 5.0 g; Saturated Fat 0.7 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 25 mg; Potassium 360 mg; Total Carbohydrate 7 g; Dietary Fiber 2 g; Sugars 3 g; Protein 2 g; Phosphorus 40 mg

Strawberries

Serves: 1 | Serving size: 3/4 cup

3/4 cup fresh strawberries

1. Serve strawberries with burgers and salad.

Exchanges / Choices: 1/2 Fruit

Calories 40; Calories from Fat 5; Total Fat 0.5 g; Saturated Fat 0.0 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 0 mg; Potassium 190 mg; Total Carbohydrate 10 g; Dietary Fiber 2 g; Sugars 6 g; Protein 1 g; Phosphorus 30 mg

Spicy Mustard Sauce

Serves: 4 | Serving size: 1 tablespoon | Prep time: 5 minutes

Although I believe a burger is best when simply dressed, sometimes you just need to jazz it up a bit! This all-purpose sauce is not only great for any of the burgers in this chapter, it’s also perfect to slather on top of the meatloaf recipes as well! Double or triple the recipe if you are feeding a crowd.

2 tablespoons nonfat mayonnaise

2 teaspoons low-sodium ketchup

1 teaspoon drained, chopped capers

1 teaspoon spicy mustard

1 teaspoon minced chopped chives

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Exchanges / Choices: Free food

Calories 10; Calories from Fat 0; Total Fat 0.0 g; Saturated Fat 0.0 g; Trans Fat 0.0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 95 mg; Potassium 20 mg; Total Carbohydrate 2 g; Dietary Fiber 0 g; Sugars 1 g; Protein 0 g; Phosphorus 5 mg