Tired of Cooking? Turkey to the Rescue!
By Shannon Crocker MSC RD PHEc
During the pandemic, many Canadians have been spending more time in the kitchen – that is, when we’re not in a Zoom meeting or supervising our kids’ virtual learning. We’re stressed out and pressed for time. Who has the bandwidth to look for new meal ideas?
Well, here’s one easy solution: cook with turkey (I’ve included some easy recipes!). It’s delicious grilled, ground or roasted, and you can enjoy it year-round. Here are three questions people often ask me about this versatile ingredient, plus easy meal ideas to try.
Q: Now that my family eats at home all the time, I need new kid-friendly meal ideas. Any suggestions?
Add variety to your meal plan by substituting ground turkey into any dish that calls for ground meat, such as burgers and tacos.
Ground turkey is a staple in my own kitchen. As a dietitian, I love that it’s lean and packed with hunger-satisfying protein. It’s also rich in nutrients, such as iron, vitamin B12 and heart-healthy minerals. Ground turkey is also super-versatile, and it goes with all sorts of flavours.
For inspiration, here are three tasty recipes featuring ground turkey:
Ground turkey burgers with lemony aioli: These scrumptious patties need just 10 minutes of prep time, and the lemony aioli adds a hit of citrus.
Easy turkey lasagna: This crowd-pleaser is a veggie-filled but no less flavourful version of the popular pasta dish.
Turkey and black bean tacos: Ground turkey makes a great taco stuffer, and it’s terrific paired with tangy red onion salsa.
Tip: Save time by cooking a big batch of ground turkey and using it in different dishes. Try these delicious ideas.
Q: I’m having trouble sleeping. I’ve heard that eating turkey could help. Is that true?
Scientists have started to study the connection between food and sleep, but so far, there’s no consensus. For some people, late-night eating might cause sleep troubles and high-fat foods might reduce sleep quality too. Some studies have shown that people who eat a nutrient-rich diet that’s higher in protein may sleep better. The potential diet and sleep connection is interesting, but there’s is still a lot about specific foods and sleep that we don’t know.
What about the tryptophan in turkey – doesn’t it make us drowsy? This question usually comes up around holiday meals, but don’t blame the turkey! Here are the facts:
- Tryptophan is an amino acid found in small amounts in all protein foods, including turkey, milk and eggs.
- Turkey contains the same amount of tryptophan as other meats.
- The amount of tryptophan in a serving of turkey or other meat isn’t enough to make you drowsy.
What’s the real culprit for that post-meal sleepiness? The likely reasons are overeating and enjoying a few alcoholic beverages.
Good sleep is important for your health, so try these strategies for better shut-eye:
- Don’t eat big meals late at night.
- Try a small protein-rich snack in the evening if you’re hungry.
- Watch alcohol intake – it interferes with sleep.
- Skip caffeine later in the day – drink water or herbal tea if you’re thirsty at night.
Q: I love barbecued turkey breast. Should I take the skin off before grilling it? And how can I use grilled turkey in different dishes?
May is finally here, bringing with it two cherished occasions: Mother’s Day (May 9) and the Victoria Day long weekend (May 22–24), also known as the traditional kick-off to barbecue season!
Turkey breast is an excellent BBQ option, one that causes few flare-ups on the grill because it’s so lean. As a dietitian, I also love that turkey is flavourful on its own, so it doesn’t need a lot of added salt from rubs or marinades to taste good.
Top tips for grilling turkey:
- Leave the skin on – it helps lock in flavour and moisture. Remove the skin before you eat, to keep the turkey lean.
- If you leave the skin on, cook the turkey over medium-low heat to avoid any flare-ups.
- Marinate the turkey if you like. It matches well with herbs, spices and sauces of different cuisines.
If you’re new to grilling turkey, check out this handy chart for tips on cooking methods and times.
Here are three tasty ideas for a Mother’s Day lunch or the long weekend:
Turkey caprese salad: Slices of grilled turkey breast add protein to this elegant tomato and arugula salad.
Turkey shawarmas: Marinate and grill a turkey breast or thigh for these delicious wraps.
Brazilian-style turkey breast: Fresh salsa verde is the perfect complement for marinated turkey.
On my Mother’s Day Wishlist (hope my husband reads this!): a delicious brunch salad with blueberry vinaigrette and fresh berries.
Got a question about turkey? Want some nutrition tips and easy meal ideas? Check out Canadian Turkey’s monthly blog, written by yours truly.
Hope your BBQ season kicks off deliciously.
Wishing all the mom’s out there a wonderful, safe and healthy Mother’s Day.