Turkey alternatives for the picky eater

My son talked about the turkey and Thanksgiving for weeks leading up to the big day.  At 5 years old, however, he is as picky as ever and I asked him if he was going to actually eat the turkey or just sing and dance about it.  He scoffed and said, “Ick, no way, of course I’m not going to eat it.  Yuk!”  True to his word, the big day came and he sang all around the kitchen about the turkey, poked it and even helped serve it, but he wouldn’t eat it.  So I had to find an alternative that would make this kid feel like he was part of the big bird celebration.  I happened to be making my Famous Brussels Sprouts where I take:

  • 3 slices bacon or turkey bacon
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO*
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • Juice and zest of half a lemon
  • Salt and Pepper

I dice the bacon and set in a pan over medium-high heat and brown until crispy.  Meanwhile, I wash and shred the sprouts with my knife and when the bacon is crisp, I add them to the pan with a little EVOO if needed.  If you use turkey bacon, for instance, it doesn’t give off much fat so you need something to prevent the sprouts from sticking.  If you use pork bacon, you will have plenty of grease and won’t need the EVOO.  I toss the sprouts and bacon and stir frequently until the sprouts begin to brown.  Then squeeze lemon juice over the pan of sprouts and bacon, salt and pepper and stir together.  Remove from heat and serve.

While I made that recipe, I made extra turkey bacon for my son and the poor fella got to say he ate turkey on Thanksgiving while the rest of us of course enjoyed the real thing with gravy and sides.  However, I don’t feel so bad.  Applegate Farms makes a delicious nitrate-free, organic turkey bacon that I have no problem giving my son for breakfast or his lunchbox.

How nice it is to eat bacon without guilt?  Well, if you like the idea of creating a healthier version of a fave, along the same lines of turkey bacon versus real bacon, try turkey burgers using ground turkey breast.  My son, the picky eater, would spot this switcheroo a mile away and would never go for it, however, even if you mix ground sirloin with ground turkey, you’ve lightened the load.  Here are some of Rachael’s turkey burger recipes, like the one pictured above called the Winter White Burger:



  • 2 pounds ground turkey breast
  • 4 scallions, white parts only, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Grated peel and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 ripe Bartlett pear, cut lengthwise into 8 slices
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 4 tablespoons hot pepper jelly or jalapeño jelly
  • 4 extra-large English muffins, split and toasted


In a medium bowl, combine the turkey, scallions, mustard, lemon peel and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Shape into four 3/4-inch-thick patties.

In a small nonstick skillet, add the pear slices, wine, lemon juice and enough water to just cover the pear. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the pear is softened, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pear slices to a plate.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the EVOO, one turn of the pan, over medium heat. Add the turkey patties and cook, turning once, for 12 minutes. Top with the cheese and pear slices, tent the pan with foil and cook until the cheese is melted, 2 minutes.

Spread 1 tablespoon hot pepper jelly on each english muffin bottom; top with a patty and an English muffin top.



  • 1 pound ground chicken or turkey breast
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • A couple handfuls of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, 1 finely chopped and 1 peeled
  • One package frozen chopped spinach (10 ounces), thawed and wrung dry in a kitchen towel
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), for liberal drizzling
  • 4 thick-cut slices of crusty bread
  • Four 1/2-inch thick slices of ripe beefsteak tomato
  • One can artichoke hearts in water (14 ounces), drained and thinly sliced
  • 8 thin slices provolone cheese


Pre-heat a grill, grill pan or large nonstick skillet to medium-high. If using a grill pan or skillet, pre-heat the broiler.

Place the ground chicken in a medium size bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the lemon zest, Parmigiano Reggiano, finely chopped garlic, spinach, thyme and a drizzle of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons, and combine. Form into four patties and cook the burgers until firm and cooked through, about 6 minutes on each side.

If cooking the patties on a grill, place the bread alongside the patties, grill on both sides and remove. If using a grill pan or skillet, broil the bread on both sides until toasted. Rub the toasted bread with the remaining garlic. Place the bread on plates and top with a slice of tomato, then season the tomatoes with salt and pepper.

In the last 2 minutes of the burgers’ cooking time, divide the sliced artichokes evenly among the burgers, then cover each with two slices of provolone. If cooking on the grill, drop the lid to melt the cheese. If cooking on the stovetop, tent your grill pan or skillet with foil. Place a burger on top of each of the tomato slices and serve immediately.


The other turkey favorites in my house are hot dogs and sausages, again Applegate Farms comes to mind as the leader.  Thankfully you can get most of their products in grocery stores but you can order from their website as well.

Gobble gobble!

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