The word "nitrate" seems to be a buzz word recently in the nutrition world. Nitrates are compounds which are often added to processed foods (such as sausage) as a preservative, but can also be found naturally in some foods such a certain vegetables (like celery). Nitrates are what keep your processed meats looking red as opposed to turning brown. Nitrates and nitrites have been shown to be cancer causing (or carcinogenic), which is why it is encouraged to decrease the amount of processed meats you consume.
Be aware. Food manufacturers know that consumers are working to decrease nitrate consumption, so they have labeled many of their products as being "nitrate free." However, many of these "nitrate free" products are made with celery salt, which is actually higher in nitrates than the conventional products are!
So with all of these nitrates and hidden nitrates flying around, do you have to cut out your beloved processed meats?! NO! You just have to be smart about it. I decided to give homemade sausage a try as a way to reduce my nitrate intake and WOW am I glad I did. Not only is it super simple to make, but the taste is incredible. Even my processed meat connoisseur of a husband thinks this stuff trumps the store bought varieties. You can make this recipe into patties or just ground sausage, depending on your needs. I made patties as my first go-round and then ground to add into my Cauliflower Hash Browns Breakfast Casserole (if you haven't tried this recipe yet, DO IT).
Homemade Lean Turkey Sausage
· 1 pound 93% lean ground turkey
· 1 teaspoon salt
· 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
· 1 teaspoon ground sage
· 1 teaspoon ground thyme
· 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
· 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
· 1 ½ teaspoons fennel
1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. If making into patties, shape turkey mixture into patties. If not, leave as is.
2. Fry patties (or mixed turkey if making into ground sausage vs patties) in a large skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown and no longer pink in the center, 6 to 8 minutes.