When I lived in New Haven, the obesity research unit at Yale had a very simple diet for its in-patient program– boiled turkey and raw vegetables. I tried it at home to pare off post-baby weight and in less than a week I dropped more than 5 pounds. Despite the great results I could not stay on it for long. It was the kind of diet that I think needs to be followed in a contolled, supervised setting. But I always wondered if there was something inherent in turkey that made it especially effective in weight control.
Flash forward to Thanksgiving this year and as I prepped by the turkey for dinner I wondered about turkeys nutritional profile. Protein? calories? and how did it compare to chicken? Was it healthier? More fattening? No difference? A little research told me that the Yale researchers had picked the right bird.
Turkey Nutritionl Profile
One serving of skinless white meat turkey has 116 calories, 14 grams of protein and just ONE gram of fat. For comparison, chicken breast clocks in at 165 calories, 26 grams of protein and FIVE grams of fat. THe same size portion of of ground beef wrighs in a 230 calories and SIX grams of fat. Lamb chops have 252 calories and almost 8 grams of fat. Clearly the low fat/low calorie package makes turkey an anti-aging best bet.
But the low fat profile almost can make turkey dry and stringy. For that reason its sad but true that too many recipes for a holiday turkey add a stick of butter for basting– and another stick for the stuffing. Over the years I’ve tried to find a healthy turkey recipe that would be succulent without adding butter. I’ve served my share of turkeys that crumbled rather than sliced until I found a fat-free technique that delivered a perfect bird every time.
Bourbon Glazed Turkey
Ingredients: 10-12 pound turkey, 1/2 cup sugar-free maple syrup, 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce, 1 cup bourbon, 2 large onions cut into wedges, 3 large carrots cut in one inch chunks, 1 stalk celery cut into one inch chunks, 2 teaspoons dried rosemary, a few sprigs parsley, 1 can low sodium chicken broth
Directions: Preheat oven to 350F. Wash and dry the turkey and place one onion, one carrot, all the celery, rosemary and parsley into the turkey cavity. Toss the rest of carrots and onions in the roasting pan and place turkey on top of vegetables. Combine the soy sauce and maple syrup and spread the mixture all over the turkey. Pour the bourbon and chicken broth into the bottom of the roasting pan and cover tightly with tine foil. Cook for 2- 2 1/2 hours without peeking. Remove the tinfoil and crank up the heat to 450 and roast another hour. Use a meat thermometer to check that the bird is throughly cooked. It should read 170 F in both the thigh and in the stuffing.
Cooking under the tinfoil and bourbon /chicken broth allows the bird to gain rather than lose moisture. Its the same principle that Yale researchers used when they boiled the turkey, but tastes much better– without added fat and calories.