A healthy burger?

A better burger

When I transitioned to a healthier diet this year, I figured I’d never touch a cheeseburger again.

It was just one of many misconceptions I had before joining Weight Watchers — and figuring out how to balance the delicious, oh-my-God-I-need-“real”-food urges I have with building flavorful, better-for-me meals.

After stumbling across WW’s recipe for pepperoni pizza burgers online, I almost wept with relief. Red meat! Pepperoni! A real bun! And it was only 8 points? Well, then.

Spence and I made these last night and added a few of our favorite spices (like crushed red pepper and black pepper), plus added yellow peppers because . . . well, you don’t need a reason to add peppers, do you? Grilling the tomatoes, as instructed, lends some of the “pizza” quality to the recipe, though it’s really like a delicious Italian-style burger.

I’m leaving the recipe as-is, so as not to alter the Points content for anyone following Weight Watchers, but we lightened it up further with turkey pepperoni instead of regular. And we totally splurged with potato rolls instead of light wheat ones. And it was so good.

Mmm, burgers. I’ve missed you so. And we’ll never be parted again.

Pepperoni Pizza Burgers

Recipe from Weight Watchers

4 sprays cooking spray
1 pound uncooked 93% lean ground beef
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, optional
2 medium plum tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 1/2 oz Parmesan cheese, thinly sliced
4 light hamburger rolls or buns, toasted
1 oz pepperoni, thinly sliced
4 leaf/leaves basil

Coat a large griddle, outdoor grill rack or stovetop grill pan with cooking spray; preheat to medium-high.

In a large bowl, combine beef, salt, garlic powder, oregano and crushed red pepper; divide mixture into four balls and then gently press each one into a 4-inch patty.

Place sliced tomatoes on grill; cook until grill marks appear, about 2 minutes per side. Remove from grill; set aside.

Off heat, recoat griddle or grill pan with cooking spray. Place burgers on hot griddle or grill; cook 5 minutes per side for medium (or to desired degree of doneness). Sprinkle each burger with 1/4 of cheese about 2 minutes before fully finished cooking on second side; cook until cheese melts.

Serve each burger on a toasted bun, topped with 1 basil leaf and 1/4 ounce pepperoni. Yields 1 burger per serving.

Healthy chicken and mushrooms in a sherry cream sauce

Healthy chicken and mushrooms

The biggest challenge in converting to a healthier lifestyle is finding ways to stay full without feeling deprived. Because I’m so used to scarfing down carbohydrates and large portions (and, you know, large portions of carbohydrates), meal times can pose challenges.

But we’re up for the task.

I recently stumbled upon Nosh My Way: a website with tons of delicious, healthy recipes with Weight Watchers PointsPlus values already calculated (four per serving for this dish). You certainly do not need to be on Weight Watchers to enjoy flavorful, lower-calorie meals — though having Marlene do the calculations ahead of time is awesome.

Her recipe for chicken breasts in a creamy mushroom sauce was delicious — and great for a weeknight. Spencer had a mess of mushrooms that needed to be used up ASAP, and most of these ingredients were already on hand. We made a few additions to the recipe, outlined below, but the original would be great, too.

I just have to add garlic, y’all. It’s a sickness.

We served with Brussels sprouts (because I’m obsessed with them), but it would also be tasty over brown rice. Totally your call.

Healthy chicken and mushrooms
in a sherry cream sauce

Just slightly adapted from Nosh My Way. Serves 4.

• 16 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1 white onion, thinly sliced or chopped
• 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced baby bella mushrooms
• 1 tablespoon minced garlic
• 3 tablespoons dry sherry
• 1/2 cup reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
• 4 tablespoons fat-free half and half
• 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives or scallion greens
• 2 tablespoons cornstarch

1. Season chicken with pepper and salt on both sides.
2. Spray a medium-sized skillet or Dutch oven with nonstick spray and heat on medium heat.
3. Add the chicken and cook, turning once or twice and adjusting the heat to prevent burning, until brown — about 10 to 12 minutes.
4. Transfer chicken to a separate plate and keep warm.
5. Add onions to the pan and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minutes.
6. Add mushrooms and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 2 minutes.
7. Pour in sherry; simmer until almost evaporated, scraping up any browned bits, about 1 minute.
8. Pour in broth and cook until reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in half and half and cornstarch.
9. Return to a simmer. Return the chicken to the pan, turn to coat with sauce and cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Add the chives or scallion greens and serve immediately.