From which birds to choose for your Thanksgiving feast (organic? free range?) to how long to cook it, Lynnsee Moberg, nutritional health coach at Natural Grocers in Tucson Oracle provides turkey tips for a stress-free holiday.
- Holiday cooking can be overwhelming – get help from an expert!
Don’t be shy about asking questions to local Natural Grocers Nutrition Health Coaches (NHCs). With six stores in Arizona, we have lots of turkey experts! They are available in-person; but if e-mail is preferred, contact Natural Grocers at https://www.naturalgrocers.com/contact-us/.
- Always look for “naturally-raised” turkeys.
Naturally-raised describes the living of the animal while “natural” only refers to how the meat was processed. Naturally-raised means the turkeys are treated humanely and never-ever fed antibiotics, growth hormones or any other drugs. Natural Grocers only carries naturally-raised meats that meet its high standards and support the health of the environment, the animal, and the consumer. The turkeys are raised with space to move freely in a safe and sanitary area. Healthy birds taste better, too.
- When picking a turkey, make sure you understand the differences between “organic,” “free-range” and “heritage.”
- Organicturkeys are certified by a USDA-accredited certifying agency, confirming the turkey has been raised on a 100 percent organic feed diet, given ample access to the outdoors, and never received antibiotics. They are also naturally-and humanely-raised. USDA Certified Organic also ensures that turkeys are never given feed with GMOs or animal by-products.
- Free-rangemeans that the turkeys are raised on healthful grains and allowed to roam in areas almost four times the size of conventional turkey ranches. Because of the high-protein diet and roaming space, the turkeys have extra nutrients for growing bigger and more flavorful. They are naturally-and-humanely-raised.
- Some of Natural Grocers small farmer partners focus on raising specialty breeds, which include the Heritagebreed turkeys, the authentic turkey that our forefathers knew and cherished. They have darker, more flavorful meat and less breast meat. The excellent flavor of the authentic Heritage turkeys is a result of their lifestyle: they roam in the fresh air outside and are fed a high protein diet.
- Choose a size that’s big enough for guests andleftovers.
Natural Grocers recommends about two pounds per person, leaving plenty of room for the Thanksgiving meal and leftovers.
- Cook your turkey according to weight, type and preparation.
The cooking time varies, depending on the type of turkey, the type of oven and the preparation, and it’s best to customize the timing accordingly. So always use a meat thermometer and place it in the thickest part of the thigh (don’t touch the bone). Roast in a 325-degree oven until the meat thermometer reaches 165-170 degrees in the thigh. Here are some general times, but it’s important to check the thermometer to be sure:
Weight Roasting Time
8-12 lbs. 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours
12-14 lbs. 2 ½ to 3 hours
14-16 lbs. 3 to 3 ¾ hours
16-18 lbs. 3 ¾ to 4 hours
18-20 lbs. 4 to 4 ½ hours
- Find a holiday turkey recipe for every type of health and diet needs.
Natural Grocers has lots of turkey recipes and holiday recipes, including many for gluten-free and specialty diets. Visit www.naturalgrocers.com, to download them, and indicate any restrictions or health concerns for customization.