• PEI

Grilling Turkey on the Dark Side

By Shannon Crocker MSc RD, Vibrant Nutrition Communications

Summer finally arrived Canada and it’s full-on steamy! When it’s so hot outside, I head to the grill. If you ask my husband and kids, I’m a bit of a grilling fanatic in the summer – everything goes on the BBQ! I love all the grilled foods: potatoes, corn, zucchini, peaches, pizza, and my favourite: turkey!

Turkey is terrific for the grill because it’s versatile and delicious but it’s also a healthy choice. We all know that. But sometimes people tell me they choose white meat over dark meat because they think it’s better for them – even though they prefer the taste and moistness of dark meat.

I’m happy to tell you that both white and dark turkey meat are nutritious.

Both are lean and excellent sources of high-quality protein. Both are excellent source of vitamin B12 – a nutrient you need for a healthy nervous system, including your brain.

All white and dark turkey cuts are also nutrient-rich, but dark meat is a little extra special. Dark turkey meat is:

  • Lean, with just 8 grams of fat per 100-gram serving. Just for comparison, white turkey meat has 5 grams/100 grams. That’s pretty darn close.
  • Even richer than white meat in some nutrients, including iron, zinc, and selenium.
  • Dark meat is an excellent source of zinc and selenium – two nutrients that help keep your immune system healthy and strong.

Dark turkey meat is super moist, making it ideal for grilling.

Top tips for grilling turkey:

  • Grill turkey with the skin on – that helps lock in the flavour and juiciness – and remove the skin before eating to keep it a lean choice.
  • Cook turkey on medium low heat to avoid any flare-ups – especially if you’ve kept the skin on.
  • Marinate if you like. Turkey is flavourful on its own, but also versatile and matches with ingredients across cuisines – try Greek, Indian and Italian marinades.

Three delicious grilling recipes to get you thinking on the dark (turkey) side.

 Ask at the butcher or grocery store for the turkey cuts you’d like so you can get grilling turkey this summer.

Mango Chili Barbequed Drummettes:

Have you cooked with turkey drummettes before? They’re super simple to cook and terrifically tasty too! I’d serve these ones with a tangy slaw and a whole grain salad. Double up this recipe – they’re also tasty cold, so they’re perfect for a picnic.

Grilled Turkey Portobello Mushrooms and Vegetable Kabobs. Turkey thighs are super for kabobs. I love them because you can create them as meal on a stick with your turkey and lots of veggies. Added bonus: These kabobs cook quickly in just about 10 minutes, so you can spend more time relaxing on the patio.

Bold Barbecue Basted Turkey Thighs. This is traditional BBQ at its best! The sticky sweet ‘n spicy barbecue sauce works brilliantly with the dark turkey thighs. Add corn on the cob and a simple salad and you’ve got a perfect summer supper.

Happy Grilling Everyone!


Nutrient Value Source: Health Canada, Canadian Nutrient File v 2015