Cabbage and Sesame Seed Salad, with Pork Chops

Simple recipe and very tasty. This dish lacks color. I suggest you mix up red and green cabbage. If you only have green, then use some red pepper flakes.

Cabbage and Sesame Seed Salad, with Pork Chops


  • 6 8-oz bone-in pork chops, about 1 inch thick each
  • Salt
  • 2 pinches of red pepper flakes
  • A pinch of cumin
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil (1 tbsp is for brushing the pork chops)
  • 2 Tbsp Rice vinegar or Rice cooking wine
  • 2 tsp Sesame seeds
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • A small head of Napa or green cabbage or mix, thinly sliced (makes about 8 cups lightly loaded)
  • 1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

In a 9×13 inch dish, season the pork chops with salt and red pepper flakes and then brine them salt water for 30 minutes.

In a small non-stick skillet on medium heat, roast the sesame seeds for 3 minutes, frequently stirring with a wooden spoon. Set aside.

Heat the grill on medium high. Drain and pat dry the pork chops and then spice them with a pinch of cumin, black pepper. Brush them with olive oil.  Grill until cooked through, 5-6 minutes per side.

In the meantime, in a large bowl, combine the orange juice, the remaining oil, vinegar, sesame seeds and 3/4 teaspoon of salt. Add the cabbage and cilantro and toss. Serve with the chops.

Serves 6.

Here are the nutritional facts:

Red Lentil Balls (Turkish recipe, Mercimekli Kofte)

When I was growing up, my mom had a group friends with whom she would hold “silver” days: Everyone in the group would chip in money to buy the host something lavish in silver (or gold sometimes) and the host in return would host a lavish Saturday afternoon gathering, rich with food and drinks. For women only. And sometimes with kids in tow.

It was in one of those Saturday afternoons that my mom dragged me to a ‘silver’ day at one of her friend’s house that I was introduced to red lentil balls… Very simple yet so very delicious. I tried several recipes before I found a version that I can replicate what I liked so much about this lentil appetizer.

Each ball is about 50-60 calories so eat with caution. They are highly addictive. Also, beware of the ‘bloat’: Bulgur expands in your tummy. Have one or two and wait for 10-15 minutes before you eat something else… Great for 20/20 lifestyles if you can stick to 2-3 of these along with some really good fish or chicken.  If you are allowing yourself some wine, a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or dry Chenin Blanc would be awesome with it.

Red Lentil Balls (Turkish recipe, Mercimekli Kofte)


  • 1 cup red lentils
  • ¾ cup bulgur (cracked wheat)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • ¾ cup coarsely chopped Italian parsley
  • 4-6 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon hot red pepper paste
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • Salt, pepper to taste

Rinse the lentils. In a 1-2 quart pan, cover the lentils with just enough water to soak in its entirety. On high heat, bring to boil and then let it simmer for 10 minutes. Make sure you keep an eye on the water level. While you don’t want too much water in the pan, you also want to avoid burning the lentils. You can add more water if necessary.

Once the lentils are soft and mushy, remove from heat and add the bulgur to the pan and cover. Let it sit for 20 minutes until the bulgur expands and softens. If you find the bulgur too crunchy at the end of the 20 minutes, add some hot water, stir and cover again to allow the bulgur soak up the moisture.

In the meantime, in a sauce pan, heat the olive oil on medium and sauté the onions until soft, approximately 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the lentil-bulgur mixture with the sautéed onions, the hot red pepper paste, the tomato paste and cumin. Knead it until well combined. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. (I personally do not add salt since the hot pepper paste is usually quite salty. I do put some red chili flakes and black pepper though).

Add the green onions, the garlic and the parsley and knead to mix.

Take a small to medium size ball of the mixture (size of 2 walnuts, the shelled kid) and shape it into a football (American football, not soccer) with your palm and serve it at room temperature.

The individual portion should look be as tall as a roll of coins, but a little thicker, like 2-3 fingers together. You can serve it on a platter layered with lettuce, for looks if you’d like.

Here is the nutrition information I got by entering the ingredients on SparkPeople recipe calculator:

Kapuska (Cabbage with Rice, Chicken Breast and Bell Peppers)

Cabbage. I grew up hating it. With a passion. The stench of boiling cabbage. Reheated cabbage. Anything cabbage. Then one day in 2008, I craved it. Not sure where it came from. Maybe there was some cabbage in the weekly CSA (community supported agriculture) delivery. I searched online for recipes (specifically the Turkish dish I was craving, called Kapuska) and I came across at least 200 different recipes. Some with rice, some with beef, others with bulgur. After trying a few versions, I made up my own. I replaced the beef with ground turkey breast or chicken breast. I settled on rice. I went for a one-pot type of solution, rather than boiling the cabbage ahead and then cooking it even more afterwards.

Earlier this summer, there were a string of cabbage deliveries with our CSA boxes so I went back to the old favorite. I made it 20/20 Lifestyles appropriate. I love how it turned out.

Kapuska (Turkish recipe for Cabbage with Rice, Bell Peppers and Ground Turkey Breast, 20/20 appropriate)


  • A small head of cabbage, any variety (use half of red, half of green for a more colorful dish)
  • 16 oz chicken breast, boneless, roughly cut into chunks (if not available, use ground turkey breast)
  • 2 bell peppers, red or orange or a combination, roughly chopped
  • 2 roma tomatoes, grated (if not available, use half a cup of canned crushed tomatoes)
  • 2 Tbsps hot red pepper paste, (use tomato paste if not available)
  • 3 Tbsps olive oil
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup brown rice,
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt to taste– OPTIONAL. DO NOT USE IF ON 20/20
  • 1 Tbsps red chili flakes, 1 tablespoon – OPTIONAL
  • Thick yogurt, for serving – OPTIONAL

In a 6-quart pan or a dutch oven, combine all ingredients (except optional items and items for serving such as thick yogurt). Let cook, covered on medium-low heat for 40 minutes. At the end of the period, mix the dish with a wooden spoon to “test done-ness” of cabbage. It should be translucent and soft. If not ready, cook on low heat for another 20 minutes or so. The rice should be firm but not hard. Adjust seasoning. Serve with thick, non-fat Greek yogurt, if desired.

Note: I know, I know. It sounds crazy. I am not used to just dumping ingredients into a pot and walking away. But it works.

Makes 6 servings.

The nutritional information (without the yogurt):

Goat Cheese Stuffed Turkey-Portobello Mushroom Burgers

This is a recipe I made up. It is not revolutionary but it is pretty satisfying. The mushrooms cut down the excessive turkey taste and serves as a moisture agent, replacing the usually high calorie breadcrumbs. Goat cheese filling is just the element of surprise and I like it. If you’d like, use whatever cheese you like, preferably one that is not sharp enough to clash with the mushrooms.

Goat Cheese Stuffed Turkey-Portobello Mushroom Burgers


  • 93% lean ground turkey or ground turkey breast, 20 oz
  • Portobello mushroom, 1 large, finely chopped
  • garlic, 4 cloves, minced
  • Olive oil, 1 tablespoon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • Semi-soft goat cheese, 2 oz or to taste

Turn on the grill on medium-high.

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients but the cheese. Knead for a few minutes until the mixture is no longer sticking to the bowl. Divide the mixture into 8 equal patties. Flatten each patty and then decorate 4 of them with the cheese in equal amounts. Use the undecorated patties to cover the decorated ones. Knead around the edges to make sure the cheese is locked in.

Cook the patties on both side until cooked to taste, approximately 4 minutes on each side.

Serves 4.

You can serve this with the usual burger fixings but hold back on the ketchup as it may clash with the tastes. Try it first. If you are on 20/20, it is better if you opted for a multi-grain tortilla or whole wheat pita. I skipped either option and served it with saute shiitake mushrooms and bell peppers.

Here are the nutritional facts of a single patty, courtesy of SparkPeople Recipe Calculator:

Patlican Kizartmasi (Fried Eggplant with Tomato sauce and Garlic Yogurt)

Update in September 2011: I made this dish with eggplants from my garden. One of the best taste I’ve ever experienced… Definitely the best eggplants ever. I updated the image on the recipe with a more fashionable looking one, from the September 17th dinner. I am so proud of my little eggplant plants. A guilty pleasure in my house, this dish makes my friend Shama’s toes curl. Yep, it is that good. It made a believer in eggplant out of her. She used to despise eggplant until recently. Now she is smitten. This dish is fairly oily and heavy so while it is delicious, it is not for daily consumption. There are many recipes on this type of eggplant frying. I do it in a way I can remember eating as I was growing up. (Tonguc’un) Patlican Kizartmasi Ingredients

  • Eggplant, a medium one, Zebra peeled, cut into round, very thin slices
  • Sunflower oil, 1 cup
  • Tomatoes, 3 plum ones, chopped roughly or 1 can of diced tomatoes 
  • Onion, 1 cup, finely chopped 
  • Red chili pepper flakes
  • Sugar, ½ teaspoon
  • Non-fat strained yogurt, 12 oz (Fage brand works best)
  • Garlic, 3-4 cloves

Soak the eggplant completely in cold water with some salt for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, spray a 2-quart pan with oil spray and on medium high heat, sauté onions for 3-5 minutes. Add tomatoes, black pepper and red pepper flakes and salt if desired, with the sugar. Turn down the heat and let simmer while the eggplant is soaking. Remove from heat after about 30 minutes. You can prepare this ahead of time. In a bowl, mix the yogurt with garlic and a tablespoon of water. Set aside. Using kitchen towels, dry the eggplant. In a frying pan, heat several tablespoons of the sunflower oil on medium high heat. Fry the eggplant slices on each side, until light brown. Using copious amounts of paper towel, get as much of the oil out of the slices when you are done. Using sunflower oil, you will be able to fry quickly and without as much oil soaked in the eggplant (as it would, if you were to use olive oil). Serve immediately. Lay the eggplant on a plate. Then top it with the tomato mixture, and then the yogurt. Serving size is 2 slices, with generous tomato and yogurt mixture on top. Serves 6-10, depending on how thin you were able to slice… More slices you have, more oil you will use. Takes about 45 minutes to put this altogether. Here is the nutrition information on this recipe:

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