With a sausage-stuffed hen on the middle of the desk, Thanksgiving dinner is just like the Tremendous Bowl of meat-eating holidays. Fortunately, that doesn’t imply vegetarians and vegans are restricted to aspect dishes. To interchange the star of the feast, there’s tofurkey, a meat-free choice that finally ends up on many turkey day menus.

However what precisely is on this weirdly named poultry substitute, and is it wholesome? We posed the query to nutritionists.

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What’s tofurkey?

Tofurkey is a pretend meat product formed like a beige soccer that comes pre-filled with stuffing. Because the 1980s, it's been bought in shops by many manufacturers. One of the best-known is Tofurky, which launched the product and the place the generic identify comes from.

The substances listing for every model varies, however the tofurkey loaf itself is mainly created from wheat gluten and tofu (therefore the identify), says Kailey Proctor, RD, a nutritionist at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, California. Rounding out the substances are greens like celery and onion for the stuffing, salt and veggie-based taste enhancers, and preservatives. A fast examine of the packaging can inform you if the model makes use of solely natural substances, if that's a priority. 

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How tofurkey compares to turkey

Even probably the most passionate vegan wouldn't mistake a loaf of tofurkey for the true factor. However its dietary profile isn't a loopy stretch from that of an actual hen.

From a protein standpoint, they're remarkably related. A 5 ounce serving of tofurkey has about 34 grams of protein, whereas turkey itself (particularly turkey breast) has 42 protein grams. “Tofurkey has barely much less protein than turkey, however tofurkey protein comes from tofu, which is taken into account a whole protein supply—that means it accommodates all of the important amino acids our physique wants," says Proctor.

Each even have related calorie counts. A 5 ounce serving of tofurkey clocks in at about 290 energy, whereas a 5 ounce portion of turkey has 209 energy. 

Carbs are a unique story. Turkey has no carbs, whereas a serving of tofurkey has 17 carb grams. However don't neglect, tofurkey comes with stuffing, a serious supply of these carbs. "Turkey’s zero grams of carbs and decrease ranges of fats don’t embrace the serving of stuffing most individuals eat, which is carb-heavy,” says culinary scientist Jessica Gavin. Tofurkey additionally has 10 grams of fats in comparison with turkey's three grams.

One bonus of tofurkey's excessive carbs: further fiber. Tofurkey has 5 grams of fiber, whereas turkey has none. Says Proctor: “This implies that you could be be much less more likely to overeat as a result of fiber helps you are feeling full sooner.”

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So is tofurkey wholesome?

The nutritionists we spoke to didn't assume tofurkey was a agency no-no—however finally, there are higher issues you possibly can put in your Thanksgiving dinner plate. “On the finish of the day, tofurkey is a seasonal dish, so should you eat this for one weekend in November and don’t eat it for the remainder of the 12 months, then that’s advantageous. Moderation is well being,” says Jonathan Valdez, RD, proprietor of Genki Diet in New York Metropolis. “However I wouldn’t name tofurkey wholesome.”

"The added processed substances in a store-bought tofurkey make it a much less wholesome choice than an actual turkey hen,” says Maggie Michalczyk, RD, founding father of As soon as Upon a Pumpkin dietary consulting.

Well being contributing diet editor Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, says that different protein-packed veggie choices are manner more healthy and simply as Thanksgiving-friendly. “I’m not a fan of faux meat merchandise," she explains. "My advice could be to serve a hearty however wholesome beans, lentils, peas, or chickpeas dish—all of that are plant-based, gluten-free, and never a standard set off of allergy symptoms as an alternative of serving tofurkey.”

One solution to make it higher for you is to make your individual tofurkey. That manner, you’ll be able to management the substances and in addition experiment with style and taste. (Sadly, tofurkey style checks have described it as bland, flavorless, and rubbery…not the type type of mouth really feel you would possibly count on throughout your vacation dinner.)

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