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Food Facts and Cooking Tips: Turkey

It’s hard to picture a holiday dinner celebration without the turkey, especially Thanksgiving. Turkey is the main event for a reason: it is not only delicious, but also highly nutritious.

Here are some nutritional benefits of turkey:

  1. Turkey is an excellent source of protein, with approximately 30 g per 4-oz. serving.
  2. Turkey is also a source of iron, zinc, phosphorus, potassium and B vitamins.
  3. Dark turkey meat generally contains more vitamins and minerals, but it also has more fat content and calories than white meat.
  4. The skin is a main source of fat in turkey. It is easy to remove the skin before or after cooking to keep your turkey SHAPE Program Phase I-compliant.

Buying Turkey

At the grocery store, turkey is available whole (fresh or frozen), ground, and processed, as found in deli meat. When purchasing, it’s best to opt for fresh, lean, organic turkey that is pasture-raised without antibiotics. Factory-farmed turkey is generally injected with salt and other preservatives during processing.

You may want to check with your local health food store or a meat and poultry delivery service such as Butcher Box for a pasture-raised turkey.

When choosing ground turkey in Phase I: FasTrac Cleanse, choose a lean option or drain the fat after cooking as you would with higher-fat ground beef.

What about deli turkey?

Deli turkey (the sliced variety used in sandwiches) is technically approved on Phase I of the SHAPE Program, but always look very closely at the ingredients list. Most deli meats are highly processed and contain added sugar, starch and preservatives like nitrates and nitrites. If you see these additives in the ingredients list, it is not approved.

Cooking with Turkey

We recommend cooking turkey a variety of ways to find what you like best. If roasting an entire turkey seems daunting, or you are cooking for just a few people, start by preparing a turkey breast. It is delicious baked, roasted, grilled, fried, smoked, rotisseried or even slow-cooked. Regardless of how you prepare it, always remember that the internal temperature should reach 165°F at its thickest part.

  • A fresh or frozen turkey is generally available year-round, so it’s an easy addition to your menu planning. Try adding turkey in some of these ways:
  • Add it hot or cold to a salad for added protein
  • Use it instead of chicken in curries
  • Add it ground to casseroles, tacos, spaghetti sauce, or anywhere you would previously have used ground beef
  • Make your own stock from the turkey bones and add the meat to soups
  • Combine toppings like lettuce, tomato, and mustard to make a great lettuce wrap with sliced or ground turkey
  • Make into burgers or meatballs

During the holidays, make sure your feast includes fresh, lean turkey. Try our SHAPE-approved recipes for a delicious and healthy holiday meal your entire family will love!