You can’t seem to drop the extra pounds, your cholesterol is on an upward climb, and your blood pressure is far from regulated- even though you’re eating “healthy”? A review of studies by John Hopkins University concluded that by 2015 a full 75% of the American population will be overweight. What’s even more alarming is that this at a time when we are spending more money on so called ‘health foods’, than ever before in history. Perhaps we think we are investing in healthy foods- when in reality our money might be in food that’s glowing with a ‘health halo’. Granola, energy bars, and jumbo-sized smoothies are among the biggest culprits (You can read more here in my Newsletter I write quarterly for EHP).
Typically Greek food ends up with this so-called healthy glow because researchers have linked its mix of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and unsaturated fats to reducing risks of everything from diabetes and heart disease to cancer. But as with any other ethnic cuisine, add in the Americanized portion control, and you are rolling your way out of healthy. On menus boasting Greek fare, you will find the classic (and delicious, mind you) gyro sandwich. While it is quite a tasty treat, the shaved mixture of lamb and beef piles on a hefty amount of saturated fat- the term lean isn’t a word most any restaurant looks for, especially for a star menu item. Oh, and still teetering on the soap box of my last post, sodium, too—as much as your entire day’s 2,300mg allotment.
With reducing the amount of saturated fat and sodium on the top of my list for this recipe- I took some help from my sweet friend’s recipe she posted a couple weeks ago. She used chicken breast rather than ground (full fat) lamb and beef. I mixed up your traditional tzatziki (yogurt/cucumber/dill) sauce with a non-traditional touch by sauteing baby spinach with garlic and cherry tomatoes. I found it quite flavorful and fresh without a lot of added salt. Plus- I shaved off about 200 calories and half the amount of fat in a typical gyro sandwich. Eat up, my friends!
For a true gyro-inspired touch, wrap with aluminum foil for less mess when taking a big ol’ bite!
1 cup diced seeded pealed cucumber
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon dried dill (I like love dill- so use less if desired)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (8-ounce) container nonfat Greek yogurt
1 pound ground all-natural chicken breast
1/4 cup diced red onion
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons cumin
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
6 cups baby spinach leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
4 pita flatbread wraps
For sauce, combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until well combined. Transfer to a small bowl, cover and chill until ready to serve.
In a large bowl, combine first 6 ingredients, mixing with your hands to incorporate well. Divide mixture into 8 equal portions, shaping each into 1/4-inch-thick oval patties. Chill in the refrigerator for 15-20 mintutes.
While patties are resting, coat a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray. Add garlic cloves, bloom for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and spinach; cook until wilted and juices are released, about 2 minutes. Toss mixture with salt and pepper; remove from pan and reserve, keeping warm.
In the same skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chilled patties; cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
To assemble for serving, divide red onion and spinach-tomato mixture evenly among the flatbreads. Top each wrap with 2 chicken patties and 6 tablespoons yogurt mixture, roll!