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Turkey Time

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It is that time of year again when you can find in your supermarkets a large selection of fresh and frozen turkeys. November is the month where many people enjoy turkey for dinner, but you do not have to only enjoy the great taste and health benefits of turkey in November alone. 

Turkey is a very good source of lean protein. A four ounce serving of turkey provides you with 65% of the daily value for protein with half the amount of saturated fat that you get from the same portion size of red meat. Turkey is a very good source of selenium.

This mineral plays an important role in thyroid hormone metabolism, immune system and function. Researchers even found a link between selenium intake and a decreased incidence in cancer. Turkey is also a good source of the B vitamins niacin, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. These vitamins are important for energy production and reducing ones risk of cardiovascular disease. Niacin has been associated with a decreased risk of heart attacks.

Studies have found that low levels of vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 have been linked with an increased risk of heart disease.  Turkey is rich in zinc. The form of zinc that is present in turkeys has high bioavailability. Zinc is critical for healthy immune system function, normal cell division and wound healing. That is why turkey is a great option for a healthy lean protein.
Turkey is a healthy, lean poultry; however, it does contain purines which are broken down into uric acid. Individuals that are susceptible to gout and the formation of kidney stones may want to limit or avoid turkey. For everyone else, turkey is a great option that can be enjoyed throughout the year.

You can prepare a turkey salad for lunch or dinner. You can substitute ground turkey for ground beef and make turkey burgers or turkey “meat loaf”. Most of the fat in turkey is in the skin, so as long as you do not eat the skin, you will be eating a lean protein.

Turkey with Herbs


For the rub:
2 teaspoons dried sage
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 whole turkey (about 15 pounds), thawed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup water
For the au jus/gravy:
2 teaspoons dried sage
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup apple juice
1 cup defatted pan drippings

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

In a small bowl, combine the sage, thyme and parsley to make the rub. Mix well and set aside.

Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey and discard. Rinse the turkey inside and out with cool water. Pat dry with paper towels.

Starting at the neck area, insert fingers or a spoon between the layer of skin and meat, to gently loosen the skin. Place the turkey breast-side up on a rack in a roasting pan. Add about 1 tablespoon of the herb mixture under the skin of each half of the breast. Rub the outside of the turkey with the olive oil. Rub the remaining herb mixture over the outside of the bird. Loosely tie the legs together.

Place into the middle of the oven. After about 1 1/2 hours, cover the turkey with a tent of foil to prevent overcooking. Check the doneness after the bird has roasted about 3 to 3 1/2 hours. The turkey is done when the thigh is pierced deeply and juices run clear (180 to 185 F) or when the breast muscle reaches 170 to 175 F.

Remove the turkey from the oven. Let it stand about 20 minutes to allow juices to settle in the meat. Deglaze the pan by adding 1/2 cup water. Stir to scrape up the browned bits. Pour pan drippings into a gravy separator. Reserve 1 cup of defatted pan drippings for the au jus.

To make the juice, combine the sage, thyme, parsley, honey and apple juice in a saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by half. Add the defatted pan drippings and bring to a low boil, stirring often.

Carve the turkey and drizzle turkey slices with the herbed au jus. Serve immediately.

This recipe yields 10 servings. Each serving of 5 ounces provides 215 calories, 37g protein, 5g carbohydrates, 3g fat, 122mg cholesterol and 85mg sodium.

Shani Goldner is a Registered Dietitian and a CDN with a Master’s of Science. She runs a private nutrition practice where she counsels children, adolescents and adults in weight loss, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular health and cancer related nutrition. She can be reached at (718) 854-5784.  She is an Oxford provider. Phone consults are available. Please send questions or comments to mynydiet.com

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