Thursday, April 25, 2019

Recipe: Turkey & Quinoa Halupki (Stuffed Cabbage Leaves)

Growing up in a family that is part Eastern European (Ukrainian & Hungarian), I have been lucky to have become exposed to some of the foods traditional to that area of the world. This past Easter as my relatives were eating Paska (Easter Bread), my aunt brought up Halupki, which is traditionally cabbage stuffed with ground beef/pork and rice, and topped with a sweet and tangy tomato sauce. It is also known as Gołąbki in Polish. I haven't had Halupki in years, but I remember that I liked it, mainly because I am a big fan of cabbage and this is a tasty and unique meal. So, this inspired me to come up with my own recipe that is somewhat healthier by cutting out the red meat and rice, and replacing with ground turkey and quinoa. I realized that this is actually a very well balanced meal since it has the vegetable (cabbage), protein (turkey), and grain (quinoa). While I can't say that my grandparents would approve of this recipe modification if they were still alive today, I would think they'd be proud that I am at least still interested in cooking somewhat in a traditional way. This recipe makes several Halupki, which is great for meal prepping for the week and an easy thing to heat up for lunch the next day. Enjoy!
Cooked Halupki


1 small head of cabbage (or half of a very large head)
water to cover
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 lb. 93% lean ground turkey
1 cup cooked quinoa
½ cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons white sugar

1.      Place the cabbage in a large pot with enough water to cover.
2.      Add 1/4 teaspoon salt to the water and cabbage.
3.      Bring water to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn cabbage every few minutes and remove leaves that separate from cabbage and place in a strainer to cool. Boil until all the large leaves pull off and middle is somewhat soft.
4.      Reserve 10 fl oz. of cabbage water.
5.      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
6.      Cut off the tough stem of each cabbage leaf.
7.      In a large bowl thoroughly mix together, ground turkey, quinoa, chopped onion, parsley, egg, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
Turkey Onion mixture

8.      Lightly pack a small amount of turkey quinoa mixture and place in the center of the cabbage leaf.
9.      Roll the cabbage leaves with filling like a burrito, making sure the sides are closed tight.
10.  Cut the leftover cabbage parts from the pot into pieces and place into the bottom of a roasting pan.
11.  Layer the stuffed cabbage rolls over the chopped cabbage parts in the roasting pan.
12.  In a bowl, mix the tomato sauce, reserved cabbage water, white vinegar, and white sugar.
13.  Pour the tomato vinegar sauce mixture over the cabbage rolls.
Halupki before cooking

14.  Cover roasting pan with aluminum foil.
15.  Bake in preheated oven until the turkey mixture is no longer pink in the center, about 2 hours. Baste stuffed cabbage rolls every 30-60 minutes to keep moist.
16.  If rolls are not browned, broil on high for 2 minutes.

Nutrition determined by DietMaster Pro software

Sunday, February 10, 2019

My Healthy(ier) Pick at The Great American Pub: Wayne

My friends and I go to the Great American Pub (GAP) in Wayne, PA quite frequently. It is a fun spot where lots of locals hang out, and it has a very diverse food menu. Certainly, since there is a lot of bar food, there aren't a ton of "Wayne Nutrition" approved menu items, and even those usually take some special-ordering.  Thus I will often will get their salad specials (such as the Greek salad w/ chicken), but sometimes I like to mix it up and not order a salad. When I do that, I tend to get the Scottish salmon that comes with spinach and quinoa, and I request the lemon butter on the side. However, this one night I went, I was not feeling that either.

I always recommend to clients that they scan the menu to see what is available so you can kind of create your own meal if you want. So, one night I got creative and looked at their "Plant Based Vegan Diet" options and chose the Pineapple Quinoa Stir Fry that comes with sweet potatoes, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, toasted sesame seeds and teriyaki. This meal appealed to me because I was in the mood for Asian food and I certainly loved all the veggies it came with, and as an added bonus, it was served with quinoa instead of rice! However, it was lacking in protein. So, I went ahead and added on the salmon (which you can add to other meals, so I figured it would be okay), to balance out the meal. Granted, it is going against the "vegan" meal that was, but I like to have a bit of protein with my meals. 

When it came out, it looked delicious. In hindsight, as I always recommend to clients, I should have ordered the teriyaki on the side, since it was pretty sweet. However, after scraping some teriyaki to the side, this meal was flavorful and very veggie dense. I was only able to eat half, and then had the second half for lunch the next day diluted with more veggies. Not bad for ~$20. 

So, while this meal was definitely not the healthiest order I could have made, it was a meal that hit my cravings for the night and definitely one of the healthiest options I could have made. I would highly recommend this combo next time you are at the Pub!

Sunday, February 3, 2019


This meal is quick and easy and uses very few ingredients. It’s a one pan well-balanced dinner that can provide leftovers for days. Quite tasty too!

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 lb. 93% lean ground turkey

1 bunch collard greens (or another leafy green like kale or spinach), chopped finely

2 medium sweet potatoes, previously cooked until just soft, then cut into cubes

1 bell pepper or another vegetable of choice, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional: 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup

1.         Sauté onion with olive oil until clear, then add ground turkey.

2.         Cook turkey until almost fully cooked.

3.         Add all the other vegetables and cover with lid until veggies are soft and turkey is fully cooked. You can drizzle with the maple syrup if you want a touch of sweet to this meal.

4.         Once everything is cooked, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve warm. Enjoy!

NUTRITION INFO: Makes 4 servings
Per serving: 350 calories, 12 g fat, 35 g carb [9 g fiber], 30 g protein
*adding maple syrup brings it to 360 calories and 37 g carb per serving