In general, ground turkey makes a great lower fat alternative to ground beef, assuming we are referring to ground chuck or any beef that's considered merely "lean." However, extra-lean beef, by which I mean 95 percent lean, is a fraction leaner than the usual packaged ground turkey, which tends to be 93 percent lean. Nonetheless, if you routinely were to replace beef with ground turkey in dishes such as meatloaf, meatballs, hamburgers, and so on, you would certainly save some fat and calories. If you opt for the extra-lean ground turkey, which is 99 percent lean, then you are making more of a dent in your fat and calorie intake, although you should be warned that the cholesterol count in turkey is still considered to be quite high. The difference between lean and extra-lean ground turkey is that the former is derived from darker meat and the latter tends to be breast meat.
No collection of ground turkey recipes would be complete without a turkey chili. This version is healthy yet hearty and very easy to make. The ingredients call for the leanest ground turkey, which is 99 percent fat free, but could if you like use 93 percent fat free turkey instead, which is a little chunkier and more flavorful. Top this yummy chili with a spoonful of creamy nonfat Greek yogurt.
I must admit that the first time I encountered a sloppy Joe I wasn't quite sure how to eat it. Was I supposed to pick it up hamburger style, or was I meant to attack it with a knife and fork? Well, it may not be dainty food, but it is delicious, and a firm family favorite. These turkey sloppy Joes may or may not require a knife, fork or spoon; it depends how full you fill them.
The problem sometimes with lean and extra-lean ground meats is that they can yield a dry burger. This needn't be the case if you add moistening ingredients and don't overcook the burgers. Top your burger with healthy ingredients such as lettuce, tomatoes, and red onions. And if you can't live without bacon in your burger, try some turkey bacon.
Another classic dish that works beautifully with lean ground turkey is meatballs and spaghetti. If you use the extra-lean (99 percent fat free) variety, you'll find it a little more crumbly than the 93 percent lean kind, so you will certainly need to use all the binding ingredients listed. The end result is absolutely worth it.
We love meatballs in our family, and would happily eat them every week, although we like to have a little variety. Sometimes we spice them up with some Southwestern seasonings, some chopped jalapeno pepper and a generous dose of fresh chopped cilantro. You could even add some hot sauce in to the mix, and use a hotter chile pepper than a jalapeno if you prefer.
Nothing says comfort food more than meatloaf, and even replacing beef or pork with turkey doesn't change that. Indeed, I prefer turkey meatloaf to the usual beef-based meatloaf or even the meat blend. Feel free to add chopped herbs or some ground spices to this mix to amp up the flavor, although I think it tastes delicious as is. If you want your meatloaf on the table faster, consider making mini meatloaves, like these, only using ground turkey instead of beef.