Gobble, gobble says the turkey, as if it knows its fate this time of year! I have to admit I love to gobble turkey. My Grandfather and uncle had a small farm and reared turkeys for the Christmas market. Every Christmas my uncle would arrive with a massive turkey that could barely fit in our oven. But even before it got that far, it hung upside down from the roof of our lean-to conservatory for a day or two. Its broken neck and blood-filled head with the odd un-plucked feather, was a curious and slightly scary sight for an urban dweller. A scene that could have been a turning point to veganism, as the head came off and the gizzards were yanked from its belly, did not a vegan make! Year in and year out my mother spent half the night preparing and stuffing a giant bird for Christmas dinner. On waking Christmas day, the house was always filled with the aroma of stuffed turkey cooking in the oven. Such a massive bird needed a head start on the rest of the day.
It seems apt that the spirit animal of the turkey symbolizes connection with Mother Earth and the abundance the earth provides. It represents nourishment in our life, harvesting the fruits of our efforts, community, generosity and sharing. This totem animal encourages us to honour our sources of nourishment, whether they are physical, emotional or spiritual. The turkey reminds us to develop a harmonious relationship with the land and our environment and consider them as foundations to our well-being and sustenance. Turkey totem is a powerful guide to unlocking the fullness of life and feeling content with what we have instead of accumulating material belongings to seek happiness.
I had so many food aversions as a child it’s a wonder I survived into adulthood and developed an interest in food and nutrition. But I sure did love turkey and stuffing. To this day I can’t agree when someone says “Oh once Christmas day is over you get sick of eating Turkey”. No, not me! I am quite happy to keep going with turkey stew, turkey curry and turkey and stuffing sandwiches. I don’t eat it very often throughout the year but it has to be my favourite meat.
Plus, I am no less impressed with this bird, now that I know its nutritional values. What I was eating as a child was organic for sure, though it didn’t need that label at the time. It is best to buy free range or organic now because otherwise you can’t be sure of quality and reported nutrition. That said, turkey is composed of protein and fat with zero carbohydrates. This makes it ideal for anyone watching their blood sugar levels. Turkey contains a higher amount of monounsaturated fat and a good balance of polyunsaturated fats (with some omega 3) and saturated fat. 100g is about 240 calories and gives you about 27g of protein which makes it a very good source of protein. Turkey protein contains all of the essential amino acids. It provides some Vitamin E and K and a good amount of all the B vitamins making it a great mood food. It is an excellent source of the mineral selenium, a good source of zinc, phosphorus and iron, and other essential minerals in lessor amounts.
And in terms of nutrition, it doesn’t have to stop there, this wonderful bird just keeps on giving! Don’t throw out that carcass when dinner is over. In the world of nutrition, there’s a big health buzz about bone broth! I guess my mother did a version of this when she made turkey stew with the left over brown meat and turkey bones. But, this is a new trend that comes from a very old tradition. Mother and physician alike knew the benefits of bone broth. Chicken ‘soup for the soul’ can just as easily be turkey. The process involves simmering the bones and ligaments for a long period of time to release healing compounds like collagen, proline, glycine and glutamine that have the power to transform your health. Bone broths contain minerals in forms that your body can easily absorb: calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and others. They contain chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine, the compounds sold as pricey supplements to reduce inflammation, arthritis and joint pain.
Some of the proven benefits of bone broth include a treatment for leaky gut syndrome and an aid in overcoming food intolerance and allergies, improved joint health, reduced cellulite and as an immune booster. The collagen element is also super beneficial for your skin.
So, it being the season of good will and in honour of turkey’s spirit of generosity, you can DOWNLOAD my FREE festive 2 page pdf recipes for Turkey Curry and Turkey Bone Broth – just click here. Once the bone broth is made, it can be used straight away or stored in the freezer, later to be used as a base for soups, sauces or just as a clear nutritious and healthy broth.
Being an outstanding fan of turkey has not caused me to feel special or unique. Living in this land of Ireland, I know I am in good company. We are turkey lovers! I can be certain of this because we even voted for a turkey to represent Ireland in the 2008 Eurovision. Yes, it’s true!! ‘Dustin the turkey’ sang for Ireland. Dustin performed his song in the first semi-final on 20 May. The song contained references to Riverdance and Michael Flatley, Terry Wogan, Johnny Logan and Bono. It was a total send up of the Eurovision and those famous Irish. Top marks for comedic irreverence, but needless to say a win was not likely or even the point! You can watch it on YouTube – just click here.
This blog is dedicated to all those delicious turkeys that made their way from my uncle Paddy’s farm, to our Christmas table to nourish and feed our gang. My uncle also donated a turkey to the homeless every year at the Dublin Simon Community on Ushers Island. I’m sure it was much appreciated.
This is also dedicated to the memory of my mam, who passed away (on this day), 12th December, followed two years later on the same date, by her brother Paddy. In appreciation of your efforts.
May the spirit of turkey shine through this holiday season providing nourishment, abundance, generosity, sharing, community and harvesting of the fruits of your efforts.
I got the Turkey Bone Broth recipe from Dr. Mercola. You can read it and more about the benefits of bone broth on his web page here.
The Turkey Korma Curry recipe was adapted from ‘Supergolden Bakes’ website.