Friday, February 1, 2008

Turkey vs Beef

This question comes from Michele ; I sometimes use the turkey, tried it in tacos, but the kids could tell a difference.  I would probably like it.  But I buy the 97/3 ground beef at Walmart, it is pretty low in fat and calories, so which is better?

You might be tempted to use ground turkey for a low-fat substitute for ground beef, but check the label before you assume too much. Not all ground turkey has the fat and calorie savings you might believe.

If a package is labeled "ground turkey," what it means is that it can be any combination of breast and leg meat, and even skin. A 3-ounce cooked portion of this kind of ground turkey has about 200 calories and 11 grams of fat. A 3-ounce cooked portion of extra-lean ground beef contains 218 calories and 13 grams of fat, so you aren't really getting reduced calories and fat from using this type of ground turkey. Ground beef comes in at 250 calories & 16 g of fat for 80% lean whereas 95% lean comes in at 145 calories & 5.6 g of fat. So as you can see fat & calorie wise ground beef can easily be a better choice ... that is if your picking 95% lean. With this being said ... let see what the nutritional values are for turkey breast, the white meat that's very low in calories & fat. (this is all based on a 3 oz portion.)

What you want to look for is a label on ground turkey that says "ground turkey breast." This type has 100 calories and 1.5 grams of fat for the same cooked 3-ounce portion. So what we learned is IF you get ground turkey breast then your choosing healthier if your not then it's best to stick with very lean ground beef.

Of course if you use the lean ground turkey, you will lose some moistness and flavor. If you are making turkey burgers, for example, they won't be as tasty as the combination ground turkey. But if you're making chili or something else with a lot of flavor and spices, you probably won't notice a difference.

Here's a recipe for a delicious chili using ground turkey.

Ground turkey chili

2 pounds ground turkey breast

2 cans drained kidney beans

1 (29 ounce) can tomato sauce

1 (46 ounce) can tomato juice

1 onion, diced

3 Tbls. chili powder

1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)

Brown the ground turkey and drain any grease. Put all the ingredients in a crock pot and simmer on low heat for at least 2 hours, up to 8 hours, or cook on the stovetop until heated through. Add a little more chili powder or cayenne if you want to make it spicier.

Store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container or freeze leftovers in quart-size freezer bags with zip seals.

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