Cook'n recipe organizer

Volume III
April, 2012

Tasty Turkey All Year Long

By Calli Rhoades

My husband and I come from very different families. He is an only child and I am one of six kids! Can you say culture shock? You can imagine that there are a lot of areas where we can see major differences, but you might be surprised at just how much difference we have discovered existed on our dinner tables.

At his family's table there was a lot of take out. They ate steak about once a week, and lots of pre-made items. In my home, many mouths meant smaller budget! We very rarely, if ever, ate out. Steak was an extreme rarity that we had on special occasions and my mom made most things from scratch, using inexpensive ingredients. I assure you that the first year we were married it was very difficult to find meals that we both loved! My husband teases that he was raised on "steak and potatoes" and I was raised on "hamburger and noodles" and that really isn't all that far from the truth.

Fast forward a few years (we will leave out exact numbers here to protect my fleeting belief that I am still young) and here we are with four kids to feed. We recently sat down with a list of our family's favorite meals to try to think of one or two small (undetectable to the children) changes we could make to make them more healthy. We came up with three main ideas and it probably won't be shocking that these are from the "hamburger and noodles" girl! First, add more vegetables. Whatever we are eating, we add more vegetable in it or on the side.

Second, substitute our pasta choices with whole wheat pasta. Spaghetti, egg noodles, rigatoni... you can find it all in a while wheat version. And third (and what I want to discuss today), substituting ground turkey for ground beef in some of our recipes. My husband was the first to wrinkle his nose about this idea so the next week I made the switch in a meal we eat fairly often. He didn't even notice and he apologized for his bad attitude once I told him! I got a "you were right", an "I'm sorry" and they ate the dinner all up. Total success!

Now that we have made the change in several dishes I want to share five reasons that I decided to give it a try.

Protein: Turkey is an excellent choice of lean protein. In just 4 ounces of turkey you can get 65% of your daily protein needs.

Selenium: It's a little-known fact about turkey that it contains trace minerals that are thought to help in cancer prevention. Beyond that, the selenium found in turkey is essential for the healthy function on the thyroid and immune systems. It also contains antioxidents which have been found to have great health benefits. Super food, right?

B Vitamins: Turkey is a great source of vitamins B3 and B6.

Less Saturated Fat: Compared to its red meat counterpart, ground turkey is lower in saturated fat. Depending on a couple of specifics in may be lower in fat in general, but there a some things to watch for.

Amino Acids: Turkey contains Arginine which is an amino acid that plays a role in cell division, the healing of wounds, removing ammonia from the body, immune function, and the release of hormones.

A word of caution: Be sure to read labels! You can get yourself in to a trap if you go shopping with the idea that all ground turkey is healthier than all ground beef. If you are buying very lean ground beef (like 90/10 or 95/5) then some ground turkey options may not really be lower in fat. It would still provide the other benefits, but it is something to watch for.

So, it seems fair to say that turkey is a pretty super option for supper and should be getting a little more table time than just the holidays! Try substituting ground turkey in a few of your recipes and let me know how it goes at

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