Monday, November 26, 2012

Clean Eating Healthy Homemade Hamburger Helper

Makes about 7 servings, 1 1/4 cups each
This one earned me super-duper-awesome-wife brownie points for sure! Matt LOVES Hamburger Helper. Back when we actually ate it, we would always joke that I could cook for hours and he would like it but if I made Hamburger Helper he would rave about it for weeks. He's a pretty laid back guy and has willingly joined me on our Clean Eating journey (alright, he's way too lazy to cook something for himself so he just sucks it up and eats what I make but "willingly" sounded so much nicer). For every blog-worthy thing I make you can pretty much guarantee he's had to choke down two things that were not blog-worthy. He never complains while he's eating it and then at some point later that night or the next day, he will just casually say he wouldn't mind if we didn't have it again. But the one thing I know he really, really misses from our pre-Clean Eating days is Hamburger Helper. And do you want to know a dirty little secret? I do too!!

Don't get me wrong, I would never actually cook Hamburger Helper now because of the white pasta, msg, hfcs, preservatives, additives, and laundry list of chemicals they manage to squeeze into that brightly colored little box. But I used to make it about once a week when we were first married and I miss how easy and fast it was. Plus you can't beat the fact that it only dirties one pan (especially since we have no dishwasher yet in our Japanese house).

My totally awesome new friend, Christine, (hi, Christine!) watched the kids for me today while I went to the dentist so naturally I stayed and hung out (okay hid from the unpacking I was supposed to be doing) for like 4 hours afterwards drinking cup after cup of tea and cuddling the baby. Once we finally got home it was already dinner time and I hadn't planned anything. I am working on building my freezer stockpile right now since we had to empty the freezer when we moved so I wanted to whip something up fast instead of using my little stash. And all I could think was, "I wish there was a healthy version of Hamburger Helper." Well now there is. The whole family loved this and Matt agreed that it was just as good as real Hamburger Helper. Which could be read as "you cook as well as crap that you dump out of a box" but I know coming from him it's a huge compliment LOL. Super fast, super easy, and only one pan to clean. Woo hoo!

This picture does NOT do it justice. It was so delicious that we all scarfed it down and I completely forgot to take a picture when it was hot so this serving has actually been sitting in the fridge for a few hours LOL. I'm writing this at 12:30 AM and it took a RIDICULOUS amount of willpower not to eat this serving cold after I took the pic. 
How I "healthified" it:

  • Substituted whole wheat pasta for the white pasta.
  • Used real cheese, real tomatoes, and seasonings instead of a packet of mystery chemical powders.
  • Used lean ground turkey instead of ground beef.
  • Added broccoli (cut up REALLY small so that you barely notice it... and it's harder to pick out).


  • 1.25 lbs 93% lean ground turkey (my package was 1.25 lbs but 1 lb would be fine)
  • 3 cups broccoli, chopped into little pieces 
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper 
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder 
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder 
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce 
  • can full of water 
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard (I didn't have any so I used 1 tsp mustard powder and 1 tsp vinegar
  • scant 1/2 tsp salt 
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat pasta (I used elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese 
ONE: In a large skillet, brown the ground turkey over medium high heat until no longer pink. Drain off grease and rinse out pan.

TWO: Return browned turkey to skillet and add broccoli, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, tomato sauce, a can full of water, mustard, salt, and pasta. Stir well. Bring to a boil then reduce heat; cover and simmer 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the water is absorbed and the pasta is cooked. (If you plan on freezing the leftovers, slightly firmer pasta is better)

THREE: Turn the heat off and stir in the cheese.

Freeze leftovers in 1 1/4 cup portions using the medium/large portions method to feed your freezer stash.

Nutrition Info:
Per 1 1/4 cup serving - 339 Calories (106 Calories from Fat), 11.7 g Total Fat, 5.3g Saturated Fat, 74mg Cholesterol, 681mg Sodium, 35g Total Carbs, 5g Dietary Fiber, 3.5g Sugars, 26.7g Protein, 14% DV Vit A, 63% DV Vit C, 17% DV Calcium, 20% DV Iron

Brown ground turkey
Dump in everything else, bring to boil, simmer 15 mins on low, remove from heat and stir in cheese
Matt insisted on eating his with chopsticks. He's a weirdo but we love him anyway :)
Admit it, you would rather spend your day cuddling this cutie than unpacking too :)


  1. Oh thank you for this post. I will have to try this. We love hambuger helper in our house also and I now since we started to eat cleaner we could not have it. But no, I will be having this now. thanks.

    1. Did you try it yet, Donna? What was the verdict? We have made it twice already since I posted it and there have been several instances over the past week where my 5-year-old has loudly asked at random times, "Can we have Hamburger Helper for dinner again?!" Matt of all people was the one that quickly decided he didn't want people thinking we actually feed them Hamburger Helper (how far we have come!!) and so has retrained him to call it Cheesburger Pasta. LOL!

    2. hi, I just got around to making dish tonight. It was AWESOME!!!!! My husband and I really enjoyed it. I had not put mustard in any pasta dish before so I was a little worried about it but I think the mustard was a big part of what made this meal great. I can see where your 5 year old was asking for it again. I will be making this part of our meal plan from now on. Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. I am sooo excited to try this! Clean eating is a new thing for us and hamburger helper and anything fried are my husbands favorite things!! THANKS for the recipe!

  3. yum! so easy and I love that I only used one pan! and I was able to sneak in loads of veggies that the kids didn't seem to notice (broccoli, mushrooms, peppers, spinach)! I did make a few modifications, just based on what I had on chopped onion and garlic instead of the powders, chicken stock instead of water and no tomato paste. def a keeper. thank you!!

  4. Is it per .25 cup or per 1.25 cups serving size?

  5. Per full serving so 1.25 cups.