Ground Turkey Rice Bowls with Broccolini

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Ground Turkey Rice Bowls with Broccolini

Who isn’t in search of a delicious and nutritious meal that’s quick to prepare? Look no further than ground turkey rice bowls with broccolini! This wholesome dish combines lean ground turkey, vibrant broccolini, and fluffy rice, creating a well-balanced and satisfying meal. Packed with protein, fiber, and essential nutrients, this recipe is perfect for the whole family. 

Broccoli vs. Broccolini

Broccolini and broccoli are nutritious vegetables that belong to the same family, Brassicaceae (also known as the cruciferous or cabbage family). While they share some similarities, they also have some distinct characteristics. Here’s a comparison between broccolini and broccoli:

  1. Appearance:
    • Broccolini has long, slender stalks with small florets at the top. The stalks are thinner and more tender compared to traditional broccoli.
    • Broccoli has a thicker stalk and larger, more compact florets. The overall appearance is bulkier than broccolini.
  2. Taste:
    • Broccolini has a sweeter and more delicate flavor compared to broccoli. The stalks are tender and slightly crunchy, and the florets have a mild bitterness. (I find this to be a great option for those picky eaters!)
    • Broccoli has a more pronounced and earthy flavor. The stalks are crunchy, and the florets have a slightly bitter and peppery taste.
  3. Nutrient Profile:
    • Broccolini is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, calcium, and potassium. It also contains fiber and antioxidants. While the nutrient content may vary slightly from broccoli, broccolini is generally considered to have a similar nutritional profile.
    • Broccoli is known for its high content of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin A, folate, fiber, and minerals such as calcium and potassium. It is also rich in antioxidants and contains compounds like sulforaphane, which have shown potential health benefits.
  4. Culinary Uses:
    • Broccolini is versatile in the kitchen and can be used in various dishes. Its tender stalks and small florets make it ideal for stir-fries, roasted vegetable medleys, or even enjoyed raw in salads. (I think it’s a perfect fit for these ground turkey rice bowls!)
    • Broccoli is a widely popular vegetable and can be steamed, roasted, stir-fried, added to soups, or used as a side dish. Its florets and stalks are commonly used, providing a versatile option for cooking.

Both broccolini and broccoli offer significant health benefits due to their nutrient content. This includes antioxidants and phytochemicals that support overall health. We use broccolini in this dish because I find that my kids eat more of it! But we have made it with broccoli, and a broccoli/cauliflower mix as well. 

Ground Turkey

Ground turkey is a popular and versatile protein source that offers several health benefits. Here are a few reasons to switch to ground turkey, especially if you have not started to incorporate it in your family’s menu already:

  1. Lean Protein: Ground turkey is a lean meat, meaning it contains less fat compared to ground beef or other red meats. It is an excellent source of high-quality protein, which is essential for building and repairing tissues, maintaining muscle mass, and supporting various bodily functions.
  2. Heart Health: Choosing lean protein sources like ground turkey can contribute to heart health. Reducing saturated fat intake and opting for lean meats can help lower cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of heart disease.
  3. Versatility in Cooking: Ground turkey’s mild flavor and tender texture make it incredibly versatile in cooking. It can be used as a substitute for ground beef in various recipes, including burgers, meatballs, tacos, stir-fries, casseroles, and more.
    • Dru’s Tip: if you your family is used to ground beef, try starting out with a 50/50 mix or even a 25/75 mix and gradually increase the amount of ground turkey until they are more used to the flavor change.
  4. Lower Sodium: When compared to processed meats like sausages or deli meats, ground turkey typically contains lower sodium content. Reducing sodium intake is beneficial for managing blood pressure and overall heart health.
  5. Food Safety: Ground turkey is a safer option in terms of foodborne illnesses compared to ground beef. Since ground turkey is typically made from white meat, it carries a lower risk of bacterial contamination.

However, ground turkey can vary in fat content depending on the type of meat used (white meat vs. dark meat) and whether it includes skin. To ensure the leanest option, look for ground turkey labeled as “ground turkey breast,” “lean,” or “extra lean.” Always follow safe handling and cooking practices to avoid any foodborne illnesses.

Rice

Rice is a staple food in many cultures around the world. I feel like rice gets a bad rap in today’s world, but it can definitely be part of a balanced diet:

  1. Rich in Carbohydrates: Rice is a significant source of carbohydrates, providing the body with a readily available and easily digestible energy source. Carbohydrates are essential for fueling the brain and muscles, making rice an excellent option for maintaining energy levels. So many people fear carbohydrates, however we have to remember that most people (from kids to adults) need anywhere from 45-65% of their energy from carbohydrates.
  2. Gluten-Free: Rice is naturally gluten-free, making it a safe and nutritious choice for individuals with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. It can serve as a staple grain in gluten-free diets.
  3. Low in Fat and Cholesterol: Rice is naturally low in fat and cholesterol, making it a heart-healthy food. A diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol is beneficial for cardiovascular health and reducing the risk of heart disease.
  4. Good Source of Vitamins and Minerals: Depending on the type of rice, it can provide essential nutrients such as B vitamins (thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6), iron, magnesium, and zinc. Brown rice, in particular, retains more of these nutrients than white rice due to its bran and germ layers.
  5. Versatility in Cooking: Rice is incredibly versatile and can be used in a wide range of dishes, from savory to sweet. It can be served as a side dish, used in soups, stews, stir-fries, sushi, rice bowls, desserts, and more.
  6. Easy to Digest: Rice is generally easy on the digestive system, making it suitable for people with sensitive stomachs or those recovering from illnesses.

Brown Rice

Brown rice, which is less processed than white rice, is high in dietary fiber. A diet rich in fiber promotes better digestion and contributes to a feeling of fullness. Fiber also supports bowel regularity and may help lower the risk of certain digestive disorders and conditions such as constipation.

I know introducing brown rice can be challenging, especially for families that are used to eating white rice. I recommend introducing it slowly, as I recommended with the ground turkey. Try a 25/75 mix to start and slowly increase the amount of brown rice. Aim for at least a 50/50 mix. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2025 continues to recommend that at least half our grains be whole grains. I find that the 50/50 blend is tolerated well and cooks more quickly than a full pot of brown rice, making it a good choice for those hectic weeknights.

Recipe

Ground Turkey Rice Bowls with Broccolini

I hope your family loves these sweet and savory ground turkey rice bowls as much as we do! The broccolini is a little less bitter than regular broccoli and my kids love it!
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Asian, Korean
Keyword: ground turkey rice bowls
Servings: 4

Equipment

  • rice cooker
  • measuring cup, liquid (I use this to measure liquid ingredients and mix the sauce)
  • measuring cups, solid
  • measuring spoons
  • large frying/saute pan
  • large cooking spoon

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground turkey (I typically cook 1½ lbs to have leftovers and don't increase the sauce amount)
  • 3 bunches broccolini (you can use regular broccoli, or even a mix of broccoli and cauliflower!)
  • 1 bunch green onions (use as much as you like, we use the whole bunch!)
  • 1 cup rice (I use ½ white rice and ½ brown rice)
  • cup brown sugar (you can definitely use a little less if you prefer a more savory sauce)
  • ¼ cup soy sauce (use a gluten-free soy sauce for any allergies or intolerances without affecting the taste)
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic (disclaimer: I use the pre-chopped garlic and don't measure, just toss in about 3 spoonfuls – we LOVE garlic over here!)
  • red pepper flakes or Sriracha, optional (my husband prefers Sriracha)

Instructions

  • Put rice and water in the rice cooker and hit start.
  • Preheat your frying/sauté pan and add 1 tbsp sesame oil. Add the ground turkey and garlic and cook until browned, stirring frequently and crumbling the turkey as it cooks. (Depending on fat percentage in your ground turkey, you can drain the fat.)
  • While the ground turkey is cooking, I intermittently make the sauce and chop the broccolini and green onions. You can definitely do this ahead of time or involve a helper, but I am usually trying to get dinner on the table in a hurry.
  • For the sauce, measure the ¼ cup soy sauce and then add in 1 tbsp sesame oil, brown sugar, and ginger. Mix well.
  • Add the broccolini, green onions, and sauce to the cooked ground turkey and mix well. Give it a few minutes for the broccolini to cook and all of the flavors to meld. Serve with rice.

Notes

Tips for picky eaters:
  • Separate items on the plate for kids that don’t like their food touching.
  • You can even pull some of the ground turkey and broccolini out before mixing in the sauce and serve a little sauce on the side for dipping.
  • Serve the green onions on the side.

About the Author

Dru Rosales

Dru Rosales, MS, RD, LD is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. She specializes in children and adolescents with a focus on eating disorders, weight management, and sports nutrition. Dru received her Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology from the University of Southern California and her Master’s Degree in Nutritional Science from California State University, Los Angeles.

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