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Turkey: For Thanksgiving and Beyond

Elaine Magee, MPH, RD Wellness Services Corporate Dietitian


Nov 1st, 2017

Waffled Sandwiches

Each year, many of us look forward to celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday with turkey and all the trimmings, but what to do with all that leftover turkey and why not enjoy turkey year-round? Turkey is a high-quality super lean meat that is almost pure protein. A typical 3-ounce serving of roasted turkey breast adds 24 grams of protein and only 115 calories!

Below find a couple recipes that will quickly (and deliciously) use up leftover Thanksgiving turkey and our top turkey tips that will inspire you year-round!

A Nutrient-Packed Lean Meat Option

Turkey is a nutrient-packed lean meat option with more of the nutrients we need and less of the nutrients we don’t want (like saturated fat, cholesterol and extra calories)! Turkey contributes key vitamins like niacin, B6, B12 and minerals like selenium, phosphorus, zinc and choline. While the breast is the leanest and lowest fat part of the bird, the darker meat tends to contain more of certain vitamins and minerals. Pro Tip: When enjoying turkey, light or dark meat, skip the skin on your poultry to shave off additional saturated fat, cholesterol and calories.

Turkey Is Tied to Tryptophan

All meats contain tryptophan, the essential amino acid that helps synthesize the brain chemical associated with better mood and better sleep–serotonin. Serotonin is used to make melatonin, a hormone you may have heard of that helps control your sleep cycles. Certain foods are known to be particularly rich in tryptophan and turkey is one of them (along with other poultry, milk/cheese/yogurt, meat, fish and eggs.) You’ll get a double dose of tryptophan in our Mini Turkey Au Gratin Meatloaves featuring lean ground turkey and cheese!

Turkey Au Gratin

Turkey Pumps Up Protein Fast

A typical sandwich serving of roasted turkey breast is just 3 ounces (about the size of a deck of cards) and contributes 24 grams of protein! Getting high-quality protein in equal amounts throughout the day is vital to preserving muscle mass by helping the body absorb protein better and more efficiently. Getting good amounts of protein in a meal may also help keep insulin levels stable after a meal, helping you feel fuller for longer. A serving of our quick-to-fix Green Turkey Chili will add 26 grams of protein to your lunch or dinner and is perfect for cooler days.

Turkey Chili

An Easy Way to Add Protein

How easy is it to cook with ground beef? Try substituting in Open Nature® 93% Lean Ground Turkey in recipes where you generally like to use ground beef! Roasted turkey is also an easy addition to any lunch or dinner, just visit the deli and order it sliced to your preferred thickness. Thickly-sliced store-roasted turkey can be cubed and easily served as the main ingredient in entrees like pasta, stews or casseroles. Thinly-sliced turkey can serve as a fun sandwich filler or quick protein for entrees like quesadillas. Keep the fun but lose the cooking time by using roasted turkey from the deli to make our Waffled Cranberry Cream Cheese Turkey Sandwiches or try a Designer Turkey Panini!

Waffled Cranberry Cream Cheese Turkey Sandwiches

Designer Turkey Panini

For more Thanksgiving and year-round recipe inspiration, check out our Pinterest page!

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