As you gather with family and friends this holiday season, you’ll enjoy cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, glazed carrots, and pumpkin pie. Holding court at a place of honor will no doubt be a fowl that very nearly became America’s national bird. Year after year you willingly brave the crowds to find the perfect turkey to grace your holiday meal. But have you ever wondered why? Click here for more on that.
The white feathered bird commonly associated with holiday (especially Thanksgiving) feasting has gone through some major changes (where you buy the bird and whether it is a heritage bird makes a world of difference). Unfortunately, heritage turkeys cost substantially more per pound than the mass-produced grocery store type. This is due, in part, to the fact that taking special care of food animals requires much more hands-on work, plus close attention to their living conditions and food. All of these factors impact the selling price. You also have to consider the environmental cost and the regular use of antibiotics in the food supply of factory-farmed birds.
The bird which is today commonly recognized as the commercial turkey bears little resemblance to the original wild turkey. That bird is believed to have originated in Mexico and, upon being introduced to the Old World, became quite popular. The “wild turkey” of today is actually the Bronze variety which fell out of favor once the broad-breasted, tender white-feathered variety became available.
It is generally agreed that, for those who choose to eat animal protein, it is better to opt for white meat over red. This lean protein also provides other nutritional benefits:
- Studies now show a clear difference between intake of red meats (like beef) and intake of white meats (like turkey) with respect to certain activities in our digestive tract. One particularly interesting study has determined that formation of N-nitroso compounds in the large intestine is much more likely to occur from high intake of red meats like beef than from high intake of white meats like turkey. Since excessive formation of N-nitroso compounds is associated with increased risk of colon cancer, this finding points to a special benefit that may be provided by turkey and other white meats in comparison to red meats.
- Turkey has recently been shown to fall into a group of high-protein foods (including tuna and egg whites) that can help keep post-meal insulin levels within a desirable range.
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But Thanksgiving is not the only time you can add this protein to your meal options. It is available at major grocery stores as sausages, patties, ground, and as parts like legs, breasts and thighs. In many recipes, it is possible to substitute dark or light meat turkey for pork. Just remember that the leaner the cut, the drier the final product may be.
This video provides absolutely no help, nor will it ensure turkey happiness for your or your diners. It does, however, give us a chance to share a little chuckle…
Feel a little sleepy after that Thanksgiving meal? Don’t blame the turkey. That dozy feeling has more to do with the volume of food you ate (fatty foods especially – and a lot of refined carbohydrates don’t help) than the Tryptophan. Many other foods have significant levels of this amino acid and yet are not known for sleep inducing properties.
Do you have a favorite turkey recipe?
Image: Microsoft Corporation
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