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Prairie Fare: Let’s Talk Turkey

Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Food and Nutrition Specialist Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Food and Nutrition Specialist
Many people look forward to Thanksgiving dinner leftovers.

By Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

Some people turn up their noses at leftovers, with a holiday exception or two. Many people especially look forward to Thanksgiving dinner leftovers.

Here are a few questions to get you thinking about the Thanksgiving feast, including some questions about history, safety and nutrition. The questions are based on information from the National Turkey Federation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The answers follow.

1: Who proposed the turkey as the national bird because he thought the bald eagle was of “bad moral character”?

A: Abraham Lincoln

B: Thomas Jefferson

C: Benjamin Franklin

2: What did astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin have for their first meal on the moon?

A: Turkey and all the trimmings

B: Roast beef, potatoes and gravy

C: Hot cereal and Tang

3: How do you know when a turkey is fully cooked?

A: When the pop-up thermometer springs up, the turkey is done.

B: When the turkey leg reaches an internal temperature of at least 155 degrees, the turkey is done.

C: When the turkey breast reaches an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees, the turkey is done.

4: On average, how much turkey does each person in the U.S. gobble up annually?

A: 12.3 pounds

B: 17.6 pounds

C: 20.7 pounds

5: True or false? White turkey meat has less fat and calories than dark turkey meat.

6: According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, in 2008 what was the average cost of a Thanksgiving feast for 10 people?

A: $44.61

B: $54.61

C: $64.61

7: When planning how much turkey to buy, how much should you buy for each person, while also being sure you will have some leftovers?

A: Allow 0.25 pound per person

B: Allow 0.5 pound per person

C: Allow 1 pound per person

8: How long can you store leftover turkey safely in your refrigerator?

A: 2 days

B: 4 days

C: 6 days

The answers:

  1. C: Benjamin Franklin was the turkey enthusiast.
  2. A: The astronauts enjoyed turkey and all the trimmings on the moon. Turkey is served as the Thanksgiving main course in about 88 percent of households.
  3. C: Cook turkey to at least 165 degrees. This is a fairly new recommendation, allowing for a juicy, yet safe main course. Some pop-up thermometers pop out before a safe temperature is reached, so always double check with a meat thermometer.
  4. B: In the U.S., each person eats 17.6 pounds of turkey annually. Of the 273 million turkeys raised, 46 million are consumed at Thanksgiving, 22 million at Christmas and 19 million at Easter.
  5. True. Dark meat tends to be “juicier” because of its higher fat content.
  6. A: You can serve 10 people for less than $5 a person.
  7. C: Besides the usual soups and sandwiches, be adventuresome with your turkey leftovers. Make quesadillas and stir fry.
  8. B: Instead of overdoing turkey for every meal for days, freeze some turkey in recipe-sized amounts. For best quality, use frozen cooked turkey within four months.

For a Thanksgiving dinner food safety fact sheet, visit

Here’s a light and easy recipe from the National Turkey Federation. After a day of indulgence, this tasty salad evens out your calorie intake.

Turkey, Mandarin and Poppy Seed Salad

1/4 c. orange juice

1 1/2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 1/2 tsp. poppy seeds

1 1/2 tsp. olive oil

1 tsp. Dijon-style mustard

1/8 tsp. black pepper

5 c. leaf lettuce (such as Romaine), rinsed and torn into bite-sized pieces

2 c. baby spinach leaves

1/2 pound cooked turkey breast, cut into 1/2-inch julienne (strips)

1 (10.5-ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained

1 tsp. orange zest (optional)

To make dressing, combine orange juice, vinegar, poppy seeds, oil, mustard and pepper. Toss together salad greens, turkey and orange segments. Pour dressing over turkey mixture and toss. Serve immediately.

Makes four servings. Each serving has 158 calories, 4 grams (g) of fat, 19 g of carbohydrate and 14 g of protein.

(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and associate professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187,
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136,
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