Spanakopita Turkey Burgers


Spanakopita Turkey Burgers are light, healthy, and totally satisfying.


I’ve been cooking a wee bit differently over the past month or so, as Ben recently found out he has…dunh, dunh, dunh...

High cholesterol. Eek!

It’s true, and it sucks. For him. For me. But mostly him.

Gone are the days of eating cheese, red meat, cheese, pizza, cheese, bacon and well, cheese, with reckless abandon (Ben loves cheese.) Basically he’s restricted to what he calls “rabbit food” for a couple months, and I’ve been struggling to come up with meals that are heart healthy but don’t taste like cardboard.

We’ve had some successes – I’ve made Vegetable Beef & Barley Soup twice, and a whole bunch of grilled Cajun Chicken Sandwiches for him (chicken + cajun seasoning + bun = very exciting!) but none of ’em have come close to the burgers I made for dinner tonight: Spanakopita Turkey Burgers.


These burgers, made with 99% fat free ground turkey and classic Greek flavors like kalamata olives, red onion, tomato & oregano, are amazing. Not only are they low in cholesterol, but they taste great and are extremely FILLING, which is something Ben’s been missing with his rabbit food. He’s always hungry!


The burgers are started with frozen –> thawed spinach, sauteed onion & garlic, grill seasoning and oregano.

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Some of Ben’s beloved cheese – feta – actually makes the cut in this recipe, as it’s used in modest amounts. It’s a good thing too, because it gives the lean ground turkey SO much flavor.

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Each burger is grilled until golden brown, then piled high with toppings.


A lemon-spiked Greek yogurt sauce, fresh tomatoes, red onion and kalamata olives.

Spanakopita Turkey Burgers

Makes 4 burgers


Spanakopita Turkey Burgers are light, healthy, and totally satisfying.


  • For the burgers:
    • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 small red onion, chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • salt & pepper
    • 1 box frozen spinach, thawed & squeezed dry of excess moisture
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1 Tablespoon grill seasoning
    • 4oz crumbled feta cheese
    • 1 1/3 pounds 99% lean ground turkey breast
  • For the sauce:
    • 1 clove garlic
    • 1/3 seedless cucumber, grated & squeezed dry of excess moisture
    • 6oz plain Greek yogurt
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1/2 lemon, juiced
    • salt and pepper
  • Additional ingredients needed:
    • 4 buns
    • Red onion, sliced
    • 2 tomatoes, sliced
    • 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced in half


  1. Heat oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Saute onion with salt & pepper until soft, about 5-6 minutes. Add in garlic and saute for another minute, stirring constantly. Remove to a plate to cool.
  2. Combine all ingredients for sauce in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Combine cooked onions with spinach, oregano, grill seasoning, feta cheese, and turkey breast. Form into 4 patties and grill on high for 5 minutes a side, or until cooked through.
  4. Top burgers with sauce, sliced onion, tomato and kalamata olives.


Adapted from Rachel Ray

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,


These burgers are low in cholesterol, fat AND calories – but they taste anything but. We were mmm’ing our way through our entire dinner!


I served Ben’s burger with steamed broccoli on the side, while yours truly got roasted broccoli – my fave. That’s just broccoli tossed with olive oil, salt & pepper then roasted at 425 for 15 minutes. PERFECTION! Make this meal!


20 Day Holiday Workout Challenge

Now that we’ve said sayonara to both Halloween and Thanksgiving, I think it’s safe to say that we’re currently in the thick of the holiday season. I’ve even got the decorations to prove it.

From holiday parties with buffets of seasonal cakes & cookies, to the urge to cook and devour warm carbs every night, the chilly winter season is full of temptation and opportunities to overindulge. For me though, it’s easier to manage winter weight gain by staying active instead of refusing to enjoy special, once-a-year holiday goodies. Therefore this year I’ve decided to ward off the weight with a plan.

There’s 20 weekdays from now until Christmas, and I intend to workout on every single one of them, taking Saturdays & Sundays off. ‘Cause your body needs a break, and I hate working out on the weekends.

There, I said it.

Luckily I have 40+ treadmill and workout routines to choose from on my Workouts Page, so every day I’ll pick one and, come hell, high water, or, shudder, a 5am trip to the gym – I’ll complete it.

Please feel free to join me in my challenge if you’d like, in any way you can. Maybe you hate running, but love walking, using the elliptical, or taking workout classes. Perfect! The idea is just to stay active over the next 20 weekdays.

I’ve created a 20 Day Holiday Workout Challenge page where I’ll be documenting what I do. Leave your blog URL, or name if you don’t have a blog, in the comments section of that page if you plan on participating in the challenge. I’ve also tossed around the idea of making a button to copy/paste on your blog, so let me know if there’s any interest in that!

In the meantime, here’s to the most wonderful, time – and YOU – of the year!


How do you ward off holiday/winter-related weight gain? Making careful food choices, taking it up a notch in the gym, or just figuring it will even out eventually?

Do you have to cook to accomodate a special diet, or food allergies?

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  1. DOIN IT. Thank God I worked out today! Ahah.

  2. Amy Ramos 11.28.2011

    I am doing this:
    So far so good-I have logged at least one mile a day.

    And this started today:

    I can take the workout to the gym and do this and then do my one mile run on the treadmill or go outside.

    Worth every penny to me!

  3. Michelle 11.28.2011

    I love this idea and the new look of your site!

  4. Great idea! I don’t know if working out 5 days a week is feasible with my class schedule & finals coming up but I will definitely be making some sort of fitness commitment.

    Does high cholesterol run in Ben’s family? I only ask because I know a lot of young people can develop it if there is a genetic pre-disposition. Hope those numbers come down!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 11.29.2011

      Unfortunately (well, fortunately) it doesn’t, so hopefully all his eating & working out efforts will bring it down!

      • That is good news, and I’m sure with a creative wife like you he’ll be enjoying a lot of great cholesterol-lowering foods without even knowing the difference :)

  5. Yes, I’ll definitely be taking part in this time of parties galore and decadent foods. My first time to see the new layout (as I read from google reader) – cute!

  6. Amber 11.28.2011

    My hubby has high cholesterol too (or had – he was able to get it under control but you know – I watch it like a hawk) so these burgers look perfect. We will definitely be making them in the next week or so. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Diane 11.28.2011

    I love this idea. I’m definitely going to try and work on the weekdays until Christmas. I’ve been needing a ‘reason’ for getting back into a workout routine :o)

    Also, how long have you been running? I have a desire to run for peace of mind and exercise but I always get discouraged. Any tips?

  8. LOVE a good Greek burger! Looks divine!

  9. Amy 11.28.2011

    I love this idea! I have recently challenged myself to try and fit in two Body Pump classes per week because I was just relying on my running and neglecting other forms of fitness (naughty exercise physiologist that I am).
    This is the first year I will be celebrating the holidays at my goal weight so I am trying to be very careful with my indulgences and keep up my activity. Luckily it is easy for me to fit this in and my sister is very active so she inspires me to keep going :)
    I cook to accomodate the omnivores in my house, and they cook to accomodate the no meat, no wheat chickpea that I am!
    Can’t wait for all the candy at Christmas though :)

  10. did you change your settings? i couldnt view the post in my reader. (im not one of those people who refuses to “click over” but the convenience factor of reader is unmatched, especially when i read blogs on my phone). anyways, i LOVE all things greek, and these look awesome….if i ate meat haha!

    • Sarah 11.28.2011

      Yea, what they said about the reader settings!

  11. Abby 11.28.2011

    Totally getting on track for the next few weeks as well. Tried something new (from Pinterest) tonight- Kale chips. OH. MY. GOD. Amazing. I’m trying “two-a-days” from Mon-Thurs; morning workout at the gym (mostly cardio), plus a quick Jillian Michaels Shred after work. Did it today… one down… ?? to go!

  12. shandy (@webgals) 11.28.2011

    Oh please, oh please, change your feed settings back to full post. I know it’s harder to measure and less ad revenue possibilities….but readers want easy reading. Like me. That being said, I’ll still visit…just prefer the fewer clicks (I’m lazy) :)

    • Holly 11.29.2011

      I second this!

      New site looks beautiful!

      Sorry to hear about your hubby’s cholesterol. Hopefully it comes down naturally through diet and then maybe you can add back in a few cheese-ish meals from time to time.

  13. Lauren 11.28.2011

    Love this idea! And I love that you’re taking the weekends off. A great mindset to go into this Christmas season.

  14. Melanie 11.28.2011

    My husband and I have *promised* each other that we’ll both workout every day in December. Lucky for us, we don’t have to start until Thursday (Dec 1st)! We’ve agreed to at least 30 mins of moderate exercise per day. We’ll see how it goes! Love your blog and can’t wait to try the turkey burgers.

  15. Kate 11.28.2011

    Did you change your reader settings? I only read on my reader and IGE is my favorite food blog! I don’t know if I will read nearly as much now. Please change your settings back!!!!!

    • Helen 11.28.2011

      I agree with this! Love IGE but with these new settings, I’ll probably unsubscribe. Any chance you can change them back?

  16. Katie 11.28.2011

    I love this idea! Very inspirational to take care of yourself!

  17. Sarah 11.28.2011

    I really miss being able to read your whole post in google reader, since often I cannot click over to the site (at work or on my phone). Is there a way for you to go back to the old way so the whole post can be read in Google Reader, or is it that way now for profit/ads reasons?
    Thanks! Love your blog!

  18. Sarah 11.28.2011

    I really miss being able to read your whole post in google reader, since often I cannot click over to the site (at work or on my phone). Is there a way for you to go back to the old way so the whole post can be read in Google Reader, or is it that way now for profit/ads reasons?
    Thanks! Love your blog–and I will definitely still click over, but I can only do that at home (I like pinning your recipes!)

  19. kathleen 11.28.2011

    Im in! :) I am going to try to eat EXTRA healthy during the week so that I can enjoy all the parties and cocktails when they do come around. Hoping that will make me feel less guilty. I CANT BELIEVE THERE ARE ONLY 20 WEEKDAYS LEFT!!! what? omg.

  20. sara 11.28.2011

    I agree with the other readers above, please change your settings back so I can see all of your posts in my reader!

  21. Kristin 11.28.2011

    Love the 20 day challenge, I’m on board!

  22. Trisha 11.28.2011

    Okay, I’m gonna do it. Not because I like working out, but because there are very few IGE ideas that aren’t BRILLIANT so…here I go!
    Hubby and I decided to book our honeymoon just after Christmas so my motivation to keep off the holiday pounds is even more extreme this year. Thanks for the inspiration to get off my butt!

  23. I keep my weight in check over the holiday season by only indulging on Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and Christmas. The rest of the season I make sure to keep my calories reasonable and to exercise!

  24. Lindsey 11.28.2011

    I just make sure I stay moving! If it is gym trips, outdoor runs or yoga as long as I move my body. I also do make sure to enjoy holiday food in moderation. I stop at a couple cookies and think hard when I want that second plate of food. But there is no deprivation!

  25. Melissa 11.28.2011

    Sign me up! I haven’t been doing the best job of having treats in moderation (Hello Thanksgiving followed by a giant bag of holiday peanut M&M’s!), so this is a great compromise(?). Yep, I’m on board. And yes, it will even out eventuatlly, but I don’t want to get into terrible habits . . .

  26. C. 11.28.2011

    I’m in!! I need this. You should totally make a button to paste in, that would be awesome. My plan is to count a walk as a workout if it’s a fast-paced one that lasts at least 30 minutes.

  27. My first day of training for my upcoming spring half marathon started today, so I’m all about the 20 day challenge. These burgers sound divine! We often make greek turkey meatballs, love!

  28. Oh man, you read my mind! I’ve been feeling so gross, my husband and I agreed that we really need to watch what we eat in between now and Christmas. I’ve also been in a workout rut, so maybe I need to commit to this! I like it!

  29. JennyV 11.28.2011

    Sometimes high cholesterol readings can come after a person has been sick or under a lot of physical distress. I also had a very high cholesterol reading over a year ago — and was of average weight and body fat, don’t eat a ton of red meat, don’t smoke, etc.

    Cells in your body need fat in order to function properly.

  30. poor ben! i don’t have any special diet cookbooks, but try to focus on lean meats, veggies, fruit… you know, the usual! i’ve tried these rachel ray burgers before… delish.

  31. Love the flavors in that burger…hope to make it soon.

    I ate so much food over Thanksgiving weekend, that my body has been craving straight up veggies this week…green beans, broccoli, spinach just steamed with nothing added.

    Good idea with the 20 day challenge. I attend yoga class twice/week, teach it twice/week…so that leaves me one day on my own. Should be easy….should be.

  32. lauren b 11.28.2011

    It looks like cholesterol is getting its ass kicked by deliciousness. Very nice creativity! Also very nice addition of the e-mail subscription option. [;

  33. Jane 11.28.2011

    Husband has high blood pressure, I have high cholesterol, but perfect blood pressure….it’s really annoying, esp when I feel like I do a lot to keep it down! It does run in the family too, so that’s not helping any! I am in on the challenge, I go through periods of inactivity (except work which is on my feet moving) so I definitely need to reset on this!! :)

  34. kellyo 11.28.2011

    This is a great idea! I’m in! Starting with a 6:00am spinning class tomorrow…

  35. Rebeca 11.28.2011

    Ummm yum! Those burgers look great! I plan on doing a 4 & 8 week challenge myself, to welcome the new year. Can’t wait to go look at your 20 day one!

  36. Karla 11.28.2011

    This burger and the workout plan sound Amazing (capital A on purpose)! :) I agree with Trisha above: “…because there are very few IGE ideas that aren’t BRILLIANT.” With delicious meals like this, Ben won’t miss a thing!

  37. Anita 11.28.2011

    Thank you for the delich low-cholesterol idea– my number is a little high, too!

  38. I like the determination! Get it girl.

  39. Lindsey 11.28.2011

    As a nurse, I have to applaud you guys! Seems like most patients are opting for “the easy way out” these days. You know, such as a pill so you can go on eating whatever. I’m proud of you both for trying to FIX the problem not COVER IT UP! :) I have type 1 diabetes, so I try to limit my sugars and carbs. Can’t wait to try these burgers!

    • Iowa Girl Eats 11.29.2011

      The Dr tried to immediately put him on a pill, which kind of shocked us. He’s going to try and change the numbers with good eating & exercise habits before even considering!

      • Kelly 12.01.2011

        When I first got married my husband had the same problem. After 6 months of marriage the doctor had to ask him what changed because his numbers were the best he had seen. It was great! Good luck with your great cooking it will turn around for sure. Since he loves B-ball maybe he could join a league to exercise.

  40. Amy 11.28.2011

    Is Ben’s diet really all that bad? I eat fairly well, but have borderline high cholesterol. However, my “good” numbers are higher than average, which brings up the overall average. I’m not overly concerned. The doctor mailed me a “diet” I’m supposed to be on – and if I ate what they recommended, I’d gain weight back (it has way, WAY too many carbs for me not to *gain* weight!). People who eat a lot of protein tend to have higher cholesterol than people on the SAD (Standard American Diet), so I’m not too overly concerned. Also, all my other numbers are over-the-top fantastic (besides my weight) – bp, triglyerides, etc., so I’m not at a huge risk.

    To deal with my issue, I’ve been trying to cut sugar out and lose 10% of my body weight. It’s going okay. Not great, but okay.

  41. Jenna 11.28.2011

    I found out this fall that my HCL levels are high, so I’ve been trying to be better about eating healthy. Your recipes help! I’m also going to give the 20 days a try, good luck!

  42. jan 11.28.2011

    OH NO! I dont know what happened to your blog but when I go into Google Reader it only shows me a few sentences and then I have to click on which makes it switch over to your blog. Do you know what might be the cause of this. Not that I dont love your website…I just have lots to read in one place :) Thanks

  43. Tessa 11.28.2011

    I enjoy your new format, Kristin! It is very crip, clean, and inviting.
    I would like to join in on the challenge! I haven’t exercised regularly in a while. This sounds like a great way to schedule it back in.
    I’ve always been pretty active, so everything has always just evened out.
    This will be my second holiday season with food allergies. When I was at school last year (I’m a teacher) I was sent to the ER with an anaphylactic reaction to peanuts. I probably ate peanut butter and nuts on a daily basis up until that moment. As the year went on, I began having severe reactions to tree nuts, corn, soy, seeds, many fruits and vegetables, and the latest has been wheat. My mom teases me for the fact that I can’t even eat bird food! I will be attending Christmas parties for the socialization this year.
    Hind sight is 20/20. Now, whenever I can, I bring awareness to the importance of a rotation diet. I had no idea corn, soy, and wheat have a bazillion different names and hide in everything we buy from the store. I do love the new foods that I’ve found. I also enjoy making new recipes. I made some “Oreos” the other day that were delicious!!! They’ll be a great treat to take to my next holiday gathering, and they will accomodate a friend who is gluten-free, also!

  44. The burger looks delicious! Take that high cholesterol!! :)

  45. Alyssa 11.28.2011

    I am joining in! Tonight I did lots of Just Dance 3, I hope that counts because I got sweaty.
    And I used to have elevated cholesterol levels but last month I got them retested and they are in the normal levels! Yeah for eating lots of veggies and whole grains and no longer living off college cafeteria greasy food and more greasy takeout!

  46. I need to join in on this because i havent worked out in 3 weeks!!!! Feeling super lazy today, so I will be joining!

  47. Brittney 11.29.2011

    Those look so GOOD. Mmmm. I’ll have to try. And I’m down for the workout challenge! I took two classes yesterday so I’m off to a good start! :)

  48. Ashley 11.29.2011

    I’m doing the workout challenge! I worked out last night thank goodness. Also, thanks to you I use Livestrong to track Food and Fitness too!

    Joining in :)

  49. Hope 11.29.2011

    These burgers look fabulous! I am totally going to make them. Yum! :)

  50. Jackie 11.29.2011

    My sister is a Celiac, so that is definitely something that takes some thought and planning! The problem with gluten free items are a lot of them are high in sugar and high in carbs. Sure she can eat all the fruits, veggies and meats she wants, but sometimes a girl needs dessert! :)

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