When you only have 15 minutes to prepare a dinner, don’t skimp on the flavour or go OTT on the calories. My caribbean spiced turkey mince pittas are oozing with spicy depth, seriously low on calories, and can be at the table in under 30 minutes. Pow!

Turkey mince pittas join me on my endeavours to be a healthier chap. Mrs Why and I have been turning up the weight loss heat by signing ourselves up to a sponsored 10km run in July, and are also having a big ol’ push to cut out the tosh in the kitchen.

Keeping with my healthy curry theme, I’m trying to really investigate the mechanics of food and cooking to see where thinking about food can help keep everything healthier.

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Turkey Mince Pittas

Switching the beef, pork, or lamb mince for turkey breast mince was an easy win. The numbers speak for themselves – it is simply less calorific because it is so lean (full fat beef mince is 235kcal/100g; turkey breast mince 100kcal/100g). This comes with a caveat though – it is also largely devoid of its own flavour. Bit of a bummer in some ways, but a blank canvas in other ways!

To big up the flavours, we need either herbs, spices, or acids (I’ve got a post on this due soon btw!). Usually a combination of these works best, and I adore my spices so this was my go-to. I find spices give the biggest punch in flavour compared to herbs, and acids work better with vegetables rather than meats in quick-cooked food.

Turkey Mince Pittas

In my healthy curry recipe I discuss the benefits of sous vide cooking the onions, garlic, spices and oil – doing so allows us to use just a few teaspoons of oil to achieve the same ends as frying in tablespoons of oil. This works just as well in this recipe, however it also adds on at least an hours cooking time. These pittas are my quick grab-and-go dinner when I don’t have much time, so I’m omitting this benefit in the name of haste. Switching to sous vide can remove around 40kcal more per serving.

Pitta breads, while not being the most healthy of bread products, do have one great benefit – portion control. So often we find ourselves filling our plates rather than just filling our bellies. Terrible for weight loss! So sitting down to a dinner with a ‘one pitta bread each’ policy forces us to stick to our objectives.

Turkey Mince Pittas

These pockets also bode well for veg bulking. Using healthy, low calorie vegetables to bulk out recipes is a superb way of filling up the meal without filling out your waistline, but it’s something I’m always a little bad at. But you can throw a ton of veg into these pockets and they stand up to the heat – the spice mix is punchy enough to hold its own and still shine through.

Harissa paste is also another huge player in the healthy world. It has some SERIOUS zing and can be really punishing if you overdo it. But this very flaw is also its biggest benefit – you need miniscule amounts of harissa paste to make a difference. Less than 1/4 teaspoon is enough to liven up an entire bowl of yogurt. That’s numbers we can live by!

Print

Caribbean Spiced Turkey Mince Pittas

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 well packed pitta breads

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp Vegetable oil
  • 1 Onion chopped
  • 1/2 inch Ginger finely chopped
  • 3 cloves Garlic minced
  • 1 tsp Ground coriander
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp Ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp Fenugreek
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp level Fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp Ground black pepper
  • 500 g Turkey breast mince
  • 3 Spring onions sliced
  • 1 Tbsp Coriander chopped
  • Squeeze lemon juice
  • 4 Pitta breads warmed through and sliced open
  • Sour cream or greek yogurt with a tiny amount of harissa stirred through to serve
  • leaves Gem lettuce to serve
  • Cherry tomatoes diced, to serve

Instructions

  1. Set a frying pan over a medium heat, add the vegetable oil then the onion and ginger. Cook gently for 5-10 minutes until very soft but not brown
  2. Add the garlic and cook for a further 1-2 minutes until no longer pungent
  3. Combine the ground coriander, turmeric, garlic powder, ground cumin, chili powder, fenugreek, salt, fennel seeds, and black pepper in a bowl. Mix to combine, then add to the cooking onion mixture
  4. Combine thoroughly, raise the hob temperature to medium/high and cook the spices until very fragrant and just starting to deepen in colour
  5. Add the turkey mince to the frying pan, little by little until fully incorporated. Break up any large lumps with a wooden spoon
  6. Keep frying until the turkey mince is fully cooked through, approx. 5-8 minutes
  7. Add the spring onions and cook for a further minute
  8. Remove the pan from the heat, add the chopped coriander and season with the lemon juice to taste
  9. Serve in toasted pitta breads with harissa sour cream, lettuce, and cherry tomatoes

Why do we heat the spices in the oil after cooking the onions/garlic? To release their flavours.

Turkey Mince Pittas

Why is turkey breast mince leaner than other mince? Turkeys don’t fly much, so their breast muscles do little work – Why are some meats tender while others are tough?

Why does breast meat not have much flavour? A lack of fat is at least in part to blame here, again all to do with what the muscle was doing during the birds life. ‘White’ meat also contains far less myoglobin than red meat (it’s what makes the meat red coloured!), which is also linked in to its flavour.

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