This Thursday marked a super-serious-big-deal life event for me: after 467 hours of work over 9 months, I completed the nutrition internship leading up to my licensure as a dietetic technician!
I can’t tell you how good it feels to have to have this accomplishment under my belt–and to think that maybe in the near future I might actually get paid for the work I do!
For this third and final portion of my internship, for the last two months I have been working in a hospital kitchen, learning about the business side of food service management, the day-to-day process of feeding 100+ patients, and how to create patient menus that are both healthy and appealing. One of my assignments was to create a new recipe the hospital might actually add to their patient menu. As I assessed the hospital’s menu for nutritional value, it didn’t take long to see that it was a very old school meat and potatoes-type meal cycle. In fact, if you were a patient at this particular hospital, in any given week you would receive 21 servings of meat–8 of them red meat, 7 of them pork, and 5 out of the 7 pork servings bacon or sausage. To me, this is frankly an ALARMING amount of red and processed meats to be serving to patients who actually want to get healthy, amirite? As I’ve written about before on this blog, reducing meat consumption–especially red meat–can have profound effects on both your health and the environment. I am all for it.
With that in mind, I set out to create a potential alternative to the several bacon and pork sausage servings patients receive at breakfast each week. For quite some time, I’ve been a big fan of using turkey in place of pork or beef for its lower fat and sodium content. (See my Mediterranean turkey burgers, turkey taco calzones, turkey shepherd’s pie, and turkey bean chili for some examples!) Turkey sausage seemed like an easy and obvious fix to what I came to think of as the hospital’s “pork problem.” (Which sounds like a comical euphemism, but unfortunately is not. This was a genuine, literal pork problem.)
These tasty sausage patties I adapted from Monica over at The Yummy Life had plenty of flavor for almost 50% less fat and 75% less sodium than ground pork sausage. At a taste test for the hospital’s kitchen staff and dietitians, the finished product received very positive reviews. 80% of employees surveyed gave it the highest rating for taste and appearance and 100% gave it the highest rating for texture. For a breakfast food that comes in at about 100 calories and 5 grams of fat per serving, I consider that a success!
So if you’re looking for a better-for-you switch in the first meal of the day, or just a little something different for a weekend or special occasion breakfast, give this easy, low-calorie turkey sausage a whirl. If you want to make it a true stand-out meal, try a healthier spin on the egg McMuffin with an egg, cheese, and a handful of spinach on an English muffin. First step hospital menu, next step McDonald’s!
Turkey Breakfast Sausage
(Adapted from The Yummy Life)
1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. dried sage
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. onion powder
1 lb. 93% lean ground turkey
2 tsp. olive oil
- In a large bowl, mix applesauce, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, dried sage, garlic powder, and onion powder.
- Add ground turkey and mix with applesauce-spice mixture until well combined.
- Form into 8-10 patties of about ¼ c. each.
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the patties and cook until browned on one side, then flip and cook until browned on the other side.
- Remove cooked patties and drain on paper towels.
Makes 8-10 patties.