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Make Canadian Turkey the Star of Your Festive Gatherings

By Shannon Crocker MSc RD, Vibrant Nutrition Communications

 

A whole roasted turkey is the quintessential holiday classic. It’s the showstopper at your family feast that fills your house with an amazing aroma that makes mouths water in anticipation.

Whether you’re hosting a traditional holiday feast or an intimate cocktail party, turkey can be the superstar of any holiday gathering.

Festive Cocktail Parties

What could be better than a cocktail party featuring friends, food and sparkly beverages? A cocktail party featuring delicious turkey-based appetizers! With turkey, there are so many appetizer creations that are guaranteed to impress.

My guests have raved about this quick appetizer: roasted turkey and Brie on a whole grain cracker, topped with cranberry chutney. You could also go with something that takes a little more work that will get you even more votes for “host with the most”!

Here are two terrific turkey appetizers– with make-ahead tips – for your festive cocktail parties:

  • Vietnamese Turkey Zucchini Cups: Prepare the ground turkey mixture, zucchini cups and salad topper (minus the vinegar, oil and sugar) before the party starts. As guests join the party, assemble the cups, heat, and then onto the appetizer table they go!
  • Smoked Turkey Bruschetta: Prepare the bruschetta topping and toasted bread prior to party time. When you’re ready to serve, just add the topping to the toast, broil and serve.

Tasty tip: Make a double batch of the smoked bruschetta topping and stir it into scrambled eggs the next morning for a tasty, protein-packed breakfast.

 

The Bountiful Buffet

Do you have a big crowd coming to your holiday dinner? Serve Canadian Turkey!

  • For a more formal buffet, I go for a whole roasted turkey. Not only does it look impressive, but turkey pairs perfectly with just about any flavourful dish on a bountiful buffet table.
  • For a casual affair, the versatility of turkey can’t be beat! From turkey satay or kabobs to big-batch casseroles, soups and stews, turkey is an economical crowd-pleaser.

Tasty tip: Turn your cold buffet table items up a notch with turkey. This Retro Turkey Club Salad looks like you did a lot of work – only you will know how easy it is!

 

Dare to be different Holiday Feast

Love your holiday turkey but want to try something a little different this year? A barbequed turkey will add a delicious twist to your holiday table.

Aside from delectable taste, when you flatten your turkey (remove the backbone) and barbeque it, your turkey cooks evenly and more quickly. That means you’ll have more time to mingle with your guests.

You can ask your butcher to remove the backbone for you, or you can do it yourself with a sharp knife and some elbow grease.

Barbequing the bird also frees up room in the oven for all those vegetable side dishes that need warming. Why not switch up side dishes too? This year, I might add a little chipotle chili to sweet potatoes or serve grilled corn on the cob with my barbequed turkey.

Tasty tip: Having a small holiday gathering? This Sausage and Pistachio Stuffed Turkey Breast Roast is elegant yet simple to make and perfect for a feast for four.

 

Nourishing Weekday Meals

Decorating the house. Shopping for presents. Baking for cookie swaps. Whew, the holiday season can be hectic! Making healthy meals for your family might move to the bottom of your “to do” list.  But, balanced meals are key to staying healthy during an indulgent holiday season.

I always make more turkey than we need, because I know it can help me put a nutritious meal together quickly during a hectic week.

Here are three of my favourite easy weekday meal recipes featuring leftover turkey:

  

New Year’s Day Brunch

After a season of holiday treats, I’m into keeping New Year’s Day brunch a little on the lighter side. Of course, good taste can’t be sacrificed. That’s where turkey comes in!

Turkey is lean (white and dark meat), nutrient-rich, packed with protein and full of flavour. It’s like the super hero of the brunch table!

For brunch to come together without much fuss, I look for make-ahead options. Having turkey leftovers on hand (in the fridge or freezer) is a simple way to power up brunch.

Brunch is a great time to get creative with those leftovers. How about a crepe or waffle breakfast sandwich filled with egg and leftover turkey, cranberry sauce and sweet potato?

Tasty tip: bake this Turkey Primavera Tart with leftover turkey. Serve with a spinach and cranberry salad, whole grain crusty rolls and a big platter of fresh fruit garnished with pieces of dark chocolate.

 

Happy Holidays from my family to yours,

Shannon