Turkey isn’t just for Thanksgiving. This healthy protein deserves a place on your plate all year long.
Turkey may be a November tradition, but this nutritional all-star is worth savoring throughout the other 11 months too as part of your healthy diet.
For starters, turkey is low in fat and high in protein. A 3.5-ounce portion of skinless breast meat is only 161 calories and has 4 grams of fat. If you’re a dark meat lover, don’t fear: While dark turkey meat has roughly double the fat of white meat, it’s still leaner than beef, making it a smart alternative to red meat.
Like its poultry cousin, chicken, turkey provides a source of iron, phosphorus, potassium, and B vitamins. It also offers zinc, which helps boost the immune system and aid healing, and may keep vision loss at bay.
Turkey is also packed with tryptophan, the amino acid that is often blamed for making you sleepy after that Thanksgiving dinner. But tryptophan only works as a sleep aid if it’s taken by itself—so it is not the culprit for your afternoon catnap on Turkey Day. Tryptophan does have an effect on how you feel, though. When it makes its way to the brain, tryptophan turns into serotonin, the “feel good” chemical. So while a dose of turkey might not put you to sleep, it could help you feel happier.
You can enjoy turkey in Mindful’s Rosemary Orange Turkey Breast, Turkey Bolognese and Whole Wheat Spaghetti, and Bistro Turkey Burger. Or get inspired with the meal ideas below and enjoy some turkey at home.
Turkey Time, Anytime
Roasted turkey is the perfect addition to your healthy lunch, whether it’s sliced or shredded for sandwiches, or used as a topper on salads. For a twist on a classic chicken salad, try chunks of turkey mixed with a dash of curry powder, some plain low-fat yogurt, and a bit of honey.
At snack time, turkey roll-ups aren’t just for kids. Try slices of apple with small rolls of roast turkey breast and a dollop of your favorite mustard for a satisfying afternoon treat.
At dinnertime, ground turkey is a great, low-fat swap for beef in a pot of chili, in burgers, or in meatballs. And there’s no reason to limit a roast turkey to the Thanksgiving table. Try a small roast turkey on a Sunday night, and enjoy the leftover meat in lunches and dinners for days to come, or simply roast a turkey breast for a taste of your favorite holiday at any time of year.