Bites by Becs - Turkey Burgers and Chicken Stir Fry

Thursday, 06 July 2017

Bites by Becs - Carbs header

Becca Sandwith, our resident nutritional expert and Oxford Brookes University student, explains carbs and shares some more of her recipes.

What are carbohydrates and why do we need them?

Carbs are a macronutrient that provides our main fuel for energy in the form of glucose. They are broken down into sugars, starches and non-starch polysaccharides (fibre). 

Starches are found in plants, while non-starch polysaccharides - more commonly known as fibre - are found in vegetables, fruits, pulses and cereal grains. Fibrous foods are great for keeping your digestive system healthy and maintaining your blood sugar levels. 

Initial weight loss can be seen from completely removing carbohydrates from your diet but this is not sustainable.  If you have ever completely eliminated carbs you will know that it can be hard to concentrate and you will feel very low in energy, this is because our brains need the glucose from carbohydrates to function. Yes, we are capable of attaining all of our energy from protein and fat alone; however, fat molecules cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, hence why the brain needs glucose/carbohydrates for energy. 

Including carbohydrates is extremely important, just watch your portion size, include plenty of fibrous/complex/starchy carbohydrates and reduce refined carbohydrates. 


Turkey Burgers in a Sweet Potato Bun with Homemade Guacamole

For the Burgers

  • 500g turkey breast mince
  • 1 small courgette, grated
  • ½ onion, finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried mixed herbs
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. fresh mint
  • 2 tbsp. fresh coriander
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil

For the Buns

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

For the Guacamole

  • 1 ½ ripe avocados
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp. fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1-2 fresh chillies (depending on how much of a kick you like!)
  • Pinch of salt
  • Black pepper


Serves 4

Turkey Burger
  • Pre-heat oven to 180°C.
  • Wash sweet potato and slice the ends off.
  • Cut the sweet potatoes into large circles. Place on a lined baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Cook for 40-45 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, prepare burgers. In a large bowl mix together the turkey mince, grated courgette, diced onion, crushed garlic, egg yolk, cayenne pepper, herbs, salt and pepper. Using your hands, combine all ingredients together and shape into 4 patties. Put the patties on a plate and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  • Whilst the patties are in the fridge, prepare the guacamole – start by deseeding and roughly chopping the chillies. Slice the avocados in half, remove the stone and peel. Using a fork roughly mash the avocado in a bowl. Add the chopped tomato, juice of one lime, fresh coriander, pinch of salt and good grind of pepper. Combine all ingredients and place in the fridge.
  • Remove the patties from the fridge. Heat the coconut oil in the pan and carefully add the patties. Cook for 7 minutes, gently flip the patties and cook for a further 7 minutes, until completely cooked through.
  • Turn the pan off and leave to stand for a couple of minutes.
  • Remove the sweet potato from the oven. Place one sweet potato circle on the plate; add a turkey burger patty, a large dollop of guacamole, a couple of slices of tomato and finally another sweet potato lid. 


Where to find carbohydrates

As I’ve previously mentioned, aim for fibrous/complex/starchy carbs – these include: wholegrain rice, wholegrain pasta, wholegrain/seeded bread, oats, quinoa, bulgar wheat, pulses (beans and lentils), potatoes, root vegetables and legumes.

Reduce simple/refined carbs such as: biscuits, white bread, white pasta white rice, crisps, fruit juices, breakfast cereals and sweets.


Glycaemic Index

    You might have heard of the term ‘GI’, which stands for glycaemic index. This tells us how the food affects the blood glucose levels. Simple carbohydrates are absorbed quickly, so will cause blood sugar levels to rise and then fall quickly. This gives us that sudden drop in energy after consuming a few biscuits for example.
    Complex carbohydrates slowly release energy, causing a steady rise and fall in blood glucose levels, which is why a bowl of oats in the morning will keep you going until lunchtime.
    Combining fats and protein with carbohydrates will also slow the release of glucose into the blood and thus reduce the temptation to head straight to the biscuit tin! Therefore, at each meal aim for combining a complex, low GI carb with a protein source and a small amount of healthy fats. Keep an eye out for the next article all about fat.



How much do we need?

The recommendation for carbohydrate intake is approximately 50% of your total energy intake. We should also be including 30g of fibre per day. Free sugars should make up no more than 5% of total dietary energy.

When preparing a meal, aim for filling half the plate with vegetables, a fist size portion of protein and the rest complex carbohydrates (about ¼ of the plate).



Sesame and Ginger Chicken Stir-Fry

Sesame and Ginger Chicken Stir Fry

Serves 2


  • If using uncooked/dry rice, cook by follow instructions on packet.
  • Prepare vegetables.
  • Heat coconut oil in large pan/wok and add chicken. Cook for a few minutes.
  • Add spring onions, peppers, courgette, broccoli and sugar snaps.
  • Add ginger, sesame oil and soy sauce. Cook until chicken is cooked through and the veggies are tender.
  • Add the cooked rice and mix thoroughly.
  • Serve and sprinkle with sesame seeds.


  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • ½ red pepper, sliced  
  • ½ yellow pepper, sliced
  • 1 courgette, sliced into batons
  • 100g tender stem broccoli
  • 100g sugar snaps
  • 2 chicken breasts, sliced
  • 4cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 300-400g brown rice (I tend to use 1-2 packets of pre-cooked wholegrain rice)
  • Black sesame seeds

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