Locating the best source of protein to boost muscle growth is a bit of a challenge. You can’t really just keep downing protein powder for the entire day. Today we ill look into Ground Turkey Recipes!
Well, you could, but that really isn’t the best option (nor would it prove very satisfying). Instead, turkey is one of the best delivery methods, thanks to its high protein, low calorie, and carb composition.
Ground turkey specifically is versatile and gives you plenty of meal options.
So while you don’t need to eat ground turkey every single meal for the rest of your life in order to realize proper muscle growth, here are a handful of our favorite ground turkey recipes to incorporate into your future meal planning.
The Different Kinds of Ground Turkey
Before heading out to the super market and grabbing every last package of ground turkey, stop yourself for a second.
You first need to know of the different kinds of ground turkey available. No, this has nothing to do with brands (go with the brand that best fits your price point and raising beliefs). The two most commonly sold ground turkey options are 93/7 and 85/15 (although you can drop down to 70/30, although this is not as common).
This refers to the amount of fat made up of the ground turkey. You may be able to find some locally sourced and manufactured ground turkeys that inch closer to the 100 percent mark, but realistically, this is not an always-there option. Plus, when there is no fat at all in the meat it won’t hold together as well, nor will it cook as well. 93% (to 7% fat) is the healthiest of the option, but it also is usually a bit more expensive, so keep this in mind when shopping.
Nutritional facts between brands is generally the same, although the sodium levels may differ slightly (so consider salt levels when checking nutrition facts). A serving size of ground turkey is four ounces, coming in at 160 calories (in the 93/7 option) and 70 calories stemming from fat. In total, there is 8 grams of fat (2.5 of which are saturated fat), plus you hit 80 mg of cholesterol and 85 mg of sodium. However, you don’t have any carbs at all yet 22 grams of protein. The only real vitamin found in the lead ground beef is iron at 10% (Honey Suckle White, 2017).
Do keep in mind the overall nutritional level does vary slightly from brand to brand (Jenno-O, for example, has 21 grams of protein instead of Honey Suckle, as it doesn’t use all white meat in its production).
Ground Turkey Vs. Ground Beef
When it comes down to straight protein, you’ll be hard pressed to best beef.
However, that isn’t the entire picture. While ground beef usually has more protein than any other ground food, it also comes with more of the stuff you don’t want. But for comparative purposes (and before we dive into the recipes) let’s just compare the two, so you can see why ground turkey is the way to go.
This is for 90% lean ground beef. Anything less and the nutritional facts will dip into the higher fat and calorie region. For four ounces of ground beef, you’ll land around 225 calories (against the 160 calories of ground turkey). The beef has 12 grams of fat (versus the eight grams of ground turkey) and five grams of saturated fat in the beef, where turkey has around half that. The one benefit for the lean ground beef is 27 grams of protein, where the turkey has around 21-22.
Of course, chances are you’re not just eating four ounces.
More than likely in order to stay full following even a small meal, you’ll go with eight ounces of the meat, along with whatever veggies you’re adding to it. So this would give ground beef 54 grams of protein, 450 calories and 24 grams of fat, versus turkey’s 42-44 grams of protein, 320 calories and 16 grams of fat.
Spread that over one meal a day over the course of a week and you’re chipping away 1,000 calories from your diet (Food Network, 2013).
Ground Turkey Recipes
Pasta with Turkey and Broccoli
When you’re looking for a recipe that is full of protein and healthy carbs for a sporting event, this is a great way to go.
The carbs will give you energy while the protein will sustain you and repair your muscles. This particular meal stays away from heavy sauces, which can be loaded not only with calories but with sugar and sodium. For the recipe you’ll need:
- 2 cups broccoli
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 2 cloves chopped garlic
- 1 tsp fennel seed
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 3/4 pound of your favorite pasta
Cook the pasta. Add in the broccoli for the last minute of cook time. This helps maintain the crunch, without the broccoli becoming soggy.
While the pasta cooks, add in one tbsp of olive oil, then add in the garlic, turkey, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes on medium-high heat. Brown the turkey (should take around three to five minutes). Add in 1/2 tsp of salt, if desired.
Drain the broccoli and pasta and cover with the last two tbsp of olive oil. Add in the turkey. If you want, you can sprinkle over a low sodium parmesan cheese.
Turkey Meat Loaf
Turkey meat loaf is a great alternative to your beef options. If done right, it will remain juicy and a delicious staple to pair with green beans and other veggies. For the recipe, you’ll need:
- 1 1/2 pounds of ground turkey
- 1/4 cups bread crumbs
- 1 egg
- 1/2 medium onion, grated
- 2 tbsp of skim milk
- 1/4 cup and 2 tbsp ketchup
- salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. As the oven heats, add in the turkey, bread crumbs, onion, egg and two tablespoons of the milk and ketchup, then season with 1/2 tsp of both salt and pepper. With just about everything outside of the turkey and egg, you have options. For starters, you can go with a fattier milk. Whole milk is usually what recipes call for, but you can cut out a considerable amount of calories if you opt for skim or fat-free. Realistically though, if you have any milk on hand, go with it. If you’re lactose intolerant, feel free to use your favorite milk substitute.
Additionally, with the ketchup, you can use a standard kind of ketchup, or you can opt for a high-fructose corn syrup free kind. It is a bit less sweet, but when mixed together you won’t really taste the difference (plus you’ll knock out a good amount of carbs and sugar from the recipe). As for the onion, white or yellow is usually the way to go, but if you want to switch it up and go with purple, by all means, go purple.
There are a host of bread crumb options here as well. Italian crumbs have a nice added spice to it. If you find the bread crumbs have too much salt in it, or you don’t like the calorie count, you can actually grab a box of corn flakes based cereal (the non coated in sugar kind) and crumble it up. It’ll give you a slightly different texture, but the calories usually drop down.
Rim a baking sheet with salt-free butter, then add in the turkey mixture and cover the top with the rest of the ketchup. Slide into the oven and let it back for 30 to 35 minutes.
Turkey Sloppy Joes
Who doesn’t love some sloppy Joes?
These have been fun ever since you were a kid.
If you’re careful with the sauce, this can also be a healthy dinner option as well. Best of all, you don’t have to go with that old, sugar-stuffed loaf of a white hamburger bun. To make the recipe, you’ll need:
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 1 chopped onion
- 1 chopped clove of garlic
- 8 ounce can of tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup BBQ sauce
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- Salt and pepper
Set a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the oil. Most recipes are going to tell you to use a canola or vegetable oil. Olive Oil doesn’t give you the right flavor here, but instead of going with the other oil kinds, choose something along the lines of an avocado or coconut oil (realistically avocado oil works best for this particular flavor).
With the oil on, toss in the onion and garlic, then the turkey. Break the meat up with your spoon and cook the turkey until it browns, which should take around three to five minutes.
As the meat cooks, combine the tomato sauce, sugar, BBQ sauce and Worcestershire in with the turkey. Toss in 1/2 Tsp of salt and a 1/4 Tsp of pepper and allow the mixture to simmer for another three to five minutes.
Making your own sloppy Joe mixture is healthier than buying a can of pre-made material. The brown sugar does help with the flavor and it really can’t be replaced with anything else to match the consistency (the sugar helps with the acidity of the tomatoes), however, you can remove it or cut down the amount if you’d like.
Also, make sure to take care when looking at the tomato sauces.
Because you’re already adding in the brown sugar, you’ll want to make sure the tomato sauce you’re buying isn’t loaded with sugar. So check the labels for the sugar content. Lower sugar in the tomato sauce usually means lower calories. The same can be true for the BBQ sauce, as the calorie count on your average BBQ sauce will vary wildly.
After the meat has simmered, you’re ready to serve. Instead of your traditional buns, you can go with a 100% whole wheat buns (which will also help fill you up faster, so you don’t eat as much). You can also go with 100% whole wheat pita bread, for less bread but still something to hold the meat (just be warned the sauce will leak through faster in pita bread or other wraps).
Thai Turkey Salad
Nothing like healthy protein with a bit of spice to bring the senses alive. You’ll get all of that here with the Thai turkey salad, which you can enjoy as a full meal. To make it you’ll need:
- 1 tbsp avocado oil
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 4 cups shredded cabbage
- 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
- 1/2 cup chopped peanuts
- 1/4 cucumber, sliced
- 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
Add the oil to a skillet set over medium-high heat (basically always place your ground turkey over medium high heat and cook for 3-5 minutes, regardless of the recipe).
Now, add the fish sauce and sugar, followed by a 1/4 cup of water. Stir the meal continuously for 2-4 minutes.
As the meat absorbs the fish sauce and sugar, toss the cabbage, cucumber, mint, lime juice, and peanuts into a bowl. You can use any cabbage you’d like, but the purple cabbage looks great with all the greens you’re using. You can also skip the peanuts due to allergies.
If you’re looking to kick the recipe up a bit, pick up some Thai peppers and add it to the meat as it cooks. A single Thai pepper, chopped and added to the meat mixture, will really spice it up. Keep lime wedges on hand for added flavor, should you want it.
These are just a handful of the ground turkey meal options you should consider. There are also a ton of healthy dinner ideas!
There are plenty of other recipes you can take advantage of, and you can always experiment with making up your own. Whatever you decide to do and however you decide to make it, by eating healthy and sticking to low calorie, high protein meals, you’ll start seeing solid improvements and gains, without feeling hungry or sluggish.