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Use these pointers to select and cook a healthier turkey this Thanksgiving.

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Turkey is the main attraction at most Thanksgiving dinners – and that’s a good thing because it’s one of the healthier options you can choose from at a meal known for its overwhelming variety of foods filled with fat, sodium and carbs.

Here are some helpful tips to select and cook a turkey that is healthy and tastes great:

  • Select a fresh turkey that has not been soaked in or injected with a brine solution.
  • To decide what size turkey to choose, plan on one pound of turkey feeding at least two people. You may want to add a little extra for leftovers.
  • Rub the turkey with olive oil to get a crisp, browned skin. Then generously sprinkle the turkey with fresh herbs such as parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. The herbs add great flavor without the high sodium in salt.
  • Add a half-inch of water or reduced-sodium chicken broth to the bottom of your roasting pan to keep the turkey moist.
  • Roast at 325° F for approximately 20 minutes per pound.
  • Baste regularly while roasting. If the turkey gets too brown, cover it with a foil tent. Add more water or broth to pan as necessary during the cooking process.
  • To prevent food-borne illness, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. It should read 165° F before you pull the bird out of the oven.
  • If you’re using the drippings from the pan to make gravy, let the fat settle first and skim it off.
  • Carve and enjoy!

Not sure what part of the turkey to eat? If you’re watching calories or fat, here are some stats to consider (based on a 4 ounce serving):

  • White meat with skin – 185 calories, 1.4g saturated fat, 33g protein
  • White meat without skin – 158 calories, 0.4g saturated fat, 34g protein
  • Dark meat with skin – 206 calories, 2.4g saturated fat, 33g protein
  • Dark meat without skin – 183 calories, 1.6g saturated fat, 33g protein

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Date Last Reviewed: August 23, 2019

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Jane Schwartz, RD

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