Eight Excellent Reasons to Love Turkey All Year Long
By Shannon Crocker MSc RD, Vibrant Nutrition Communications
You know it’s fall when nights get cooler, leaves start changing colours, and everybody’s talking Thanksgiving turkey.
It’s easy to understand why we love our Thanksgiving turkey – even the aroma of roasting turkey that fills your home that day is drool-worthy! But that amazing aroma (and terrific taste!) doesn’t have to be relegated to family feasts a couple of times a year. From pizza to burgers, stir-fries to soup, turkey makes a regular appearance on my menu any day of the week.
Here are my eight excellent reasons to love turkey all year long:
- Turkey is tasty. Let’s face it, the number one reason we choose the foods we do is because of taste. Turkey definitely registers high on the tasty meter. Turkey also pairs perfectly with so many seasonings to create delicious cuisines from Thai to Indian to Italian.
- Big bang for your nutritional buck. Turkey provides several nutrients we need for good health including protein (to build muscle), zinc (for a healthy immune system), selenium (an antioxidant mineral) and vitamin B12 (keeps your nervous system working well). Dark meat (100-gram serving) is also a source of iron, which carries oxygen to all parts in your body.
- Versatility plus! With all the cuts of turkey, the meal possibilities are endless. Choose whatever works best for you. I cook whole turkeys or bone-in breasts on the weekend when I have more time. Ground turkey is my choice for chili while thighs are my go-to for a turkey curry.
Tasty tip! Is a whole bird too much for your small family? Here’s a simple solution: cut the turkey in half (or have the butcher do this for you), cook one half and put the other half in the freezer for another time.
- Protein power. Turkey is an excellent source of high quality protein; each 100-gram serving has about 30 grams of protein. I recommend 20 to 30 grams of protein at each meal to help you feel energized and satisfied, to build and maintain muscle and to help manage a healthy weight.
- Cook once, eat twice! Have you heard of planned-overs? That’s when you plan for leftovers to create another meal. Planning for leftover turkey allows you to make quick, nutritious meals during the week. Cook a whole turkey, extra parts, or a big batch of turkey meatballs on the weekend, and you’ll have leftovers for simple meals during the week. Say goodbye to grocery store take-out!
- Smart snacking. Leftover turkey is ideal for when you need a snack to keep you nourished between meals; the protein helps manage munchies and fight cravings for sweet treats. Pair it with a veggie or fruit and you’ve got a smart snack! Try roasted turkey and avocado or tart apple on a small piece of rustic whole grain toast next time that 3:00pm hunger hits.
- White or dark, it’s lean. That’s right, whether you like white or dark meat, turkey (minus the skin) is a lean choice. For a 100-gram serving, skinless turkey thighs have just 7.6 grams of fat while breast meat has 2.6 grams. Keeping the skin on while cooking keeps turkey moist and locks in flavour; removing the skin before eating keeps it a lower fat option.
- Taco Tuesday! Okay, really, with nutrient-rich turkey and loads of veggie toppings, you can enjoy turkey tacos any night of the week. With so many great recipes like Grilled Turkey Thigh Taco Bowls, Weeknight Buffalo Turkey Tacos, Shredded Turkey Tacos and Turkey Tacos with Baja Slaw and Guacamole Taco Turkey Tuesday is a mainstay in my menu plans.
As you can see, turkey’s not just for special occasions! But I sure will enjoy it for our upcoming family feast.
Follow Shannon on Twitter and Instagram @shancrockerRD