Lean ground turkey, let’s review how to find the leanest variety

Ground turkey has replaced ground beef in a variety of dishes I make, from meatballs to tacos because it is, or at least can be leaner than most ground beef offerings. But I’ve warned you before that not all ground turkey is all that lean, read the nutrition label to find the leanest variety your food store offers.

Which is leaner? Do you see the different descriptions? No? Another reason to always read nutrition labels.
Which is leaner? Do you see the different descriptions? No? Another reason to always read nutrition labels.

Some brands offer lean and extra lean ground turkey. I recently found another variation of that in the Honeysuckle brand, made by food giant Cargill. It offers white meat ground turkey and breast meat ground turkey. You would think white meat would be the leanest, but the breast meat offering is leaner, 1.5 grams of fat per four ounces compared with 8 grams in the other variety.

Why? I’m guessing skin is ground along with the meat for the higher fat one, it adds flavor and moisture. When you find these two types, buy one of each package to mix in a turkey meatloaf to get some flavor and lower fat content overall.
John

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Turkey meatballs, a great side for Italian dishes

Meatballs are an integral part of Italian-American cooking (not so much in Italy, but that’s another story) but red meat is largely off my diet since my angioplasty in 2012. So I’ve switched from beef to turkey meatballs. It occurred to me I’ve referred to them in past posts here but never shown how to make them.

So here’s a quick guide. Start with a pound of lean ground turkey, which has about one gram of fat per ounce. Add four to six ounces of Panko breadcrumbs, some reduced fat Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning you can buy pre-mixed (be sure to get a mix without salt listed as an ingredient). Add cheese and seasoning to your taste preference.

Turkey meatballs are a low-fat, low-salt alternative to beef meatballs.
Turkey meatballs are a low-fat, low-salt alternative to beef meatballs.

Combine the ingredients in a bowl, adding water to help bind it all. Mix it together, then form it into meatballs using your hands, rolling it clockwise across your palms (or you can buy a device to make meatballs).

Turkey meatball ingredients include lean ground turkey, Panko breadcrumbs, low-fat cheese and Italian seasoning.
Turkey meatball ingredients include lean ground turkey, panko breadcrumbs, low-fat cheese and Italian seasoning.

I normally get 17 turkey meatballs from a pound, so each is a bit less than one ounce, or one gram of fat. The breadcrumbs are low-salt, the cheese has salt, so be prudent in how much you add. This is still a low-salt offering, and definitely lower-fat than beef or more traditional beef and pork meatballs.

Turkey meatball ingredients in a mixing bowl, just add water and mix it all up.
Turkey meatball ingredients in a mixing bowl, just add water and mix it all up.

Cook them for about an hour at 350, turning after 30 minutes. Coat the bottom of the pan with water to avoid sticking, you may need to add more water at the 30-minute mark too.

Enjoy!
John

What happened to my elk burger, Happy Gnome?

I enjoyed an elk burger blend last year on a visit to the Twin Cities in Minnesota so was looking forward to returning to the Happy Gnome there for another this year.

But when I ordered the bison/elk blend burger this year without the accompanying cheese and bacon, I was told the bacon was in the burger itself and so could not be excluded.

My Happy Gnome seafood plate, once I removed the mountain of bread that came with it, white bread I can no longer eat.
My Happy Gnome seafood plate, once I removed the mountain of bread that came with it, white bread I can no longer eat.

I would not have gotten it last year if that was the case, so was quite perplexed. Either the recipe has been changed or the server who took my order last year did not know the bacon was in the meat and so thought as I did that it could simply be excluded. The link I had in my last post to the menu no longer works, I found, so it’s possible the menu was changed. Continue reading “What happened to my elk burger, Happy Gnome?”

How to make a low-fat, low-salt turkey meatloaf

I’ve alluded in several posts here to the turkey meatloaf which has become a staple of my low-fat, low-salt diet these days. I find it simple to make and tasty too. Plus, if you make a big one, you can have it ready for additional meals when you need something that is quick to make for dinner during the week.

All the ingredients you'll need for your turkey meatloaf.
All the ingredients you’ll need for your turkey meatloaf.

Here’s a handy step-by-step guide to creating it. Continue reading “How to make a low-fat, low-salt turkey meatloaf”

Gilson’s in Wilmette: A local gem on Chicago’s North Shore

Gilson’s is a neighborhood place in downtown Wilmette that has done well in preparing tasty dishes for me with a minimum of salt, fat or sugar. We enjoy it so much that my wife and I decided to dine there on New Year’s Eve before going to see a musical at a local theater.

We started with some wonderful scallops. The Gilson’s menu describes them as “Pan seared jumbo scallops over sautéed Swiss chard and cranberry onion jam and topped with crumbled bacon.”

My beautiful wife Carolyn displays our scallops appetizer.
My beautiful wife Carolyn displays our scallops appetizer.

I did not eat the bacon, needless to say, but my wife enjoyed it. We asked that the dish not be salted in any way and I did not taste any salt (I’ve become ultra sensitive to it since cutting back). The scallops had a wonderful grilled flavor. Continue reading “Gilson’s in Wilmette: A local gem on Chicago’s North Shore”

Why Should You Cook Several Dishes at Once?

As you likely know, the biggest change you face when you get put on a restricted diet is that buying prepared or processed foods of any kind becomes nearly impossible because of the amounts of sodium, sugar and fat in them. You are forced to cook for yourself, learning if you haven’t cooked before or relearning if you had cooked but used the big three of forbidden foods that you can no longer eat.

I’ve been a cook all my adult life but have been relearning and refining old recipes to get the salt, sugar and fat out, as I write about here. I pretty much make everything from scratch now and after eight months of doing it, have a fairly good rotation of nightly dinner dishes which I make for my wife and I. But cooking from scratch every night is time consuming, and tiring after long, long days at work.

That’s why I recommend cooking several main courses at once, perhaps on a Saturday or Sunday when you may have more time to prepare. Then you can simply reheat these items and make some quick veggie side dishes during the week. I did that with the items in the picture you see here.

Cooking three, or more, meals at once.
Cooking three, or more, meals at once.

The center item is my latest take on a pizza I can eat. It’s made with a whole wheat prepared crust from Whole Foods, salt-free tomato sauce and fat-free mozzarella cheese I get from a local supermarket, along with peppers, low-salt black olives, and mushrooms.

To the right of the pizza is my turkey meatloaf, which includes two pounds of lean and very lean ground turkey combined with low-salt Panko bread crumbs and Eggbeaters (equal to one egg). A meatloaf that size is at least two meals for my wife and I, and easy ones to quickly heat during the week.

To the left are portobello mushroom caps covered in salt-free tomato sauce, no-fat cheese and peppers. I originally cooked these as a main course but we ended up having them as a side dish. Simply bake those at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes depending on your oven.
John

Is All Ground Turkey Lean? Think Again

White meat turkey is on my approved meat list, but white meat turkey can be drier than paper to eat, as I found out when I was in the hospital last August and ate what passed for a meal of turkey there.

Turkey burgers present the opportunity to use ketchup to flavor them up a bit. But my nutrition nazi had a warning about buying ground turkey or pre-made turkey burgers. Pre-made turkey burgers, such as the ones in restaurants or sold pre-made in supermarkets, contain turkey skin to give them some moisture so their fat content can be as high as that of some red meats.

Not all ground turkey is the same. There's lean and there's extra lean.
Not all ground turkey is the same. There’s lean and there’s extra lean.

I’ve found a corollary to that warning in my shopping, namely that not all ground turkey is the same leanness either. Continue reading “Is All Ground Turkey Lean? Think Again”

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