Ditch Processed Meat

There’s a familiar pull at the beginning of every August. It’s the feeling of a summer lived outside – feeling the grass under our feet, cooling off in the sun-warmed water, watching thunderstorms under our deck. It’s the excitement of packages arriving from our postman with new lunch boxes, new backpacks, new shirts, machine-sharpened pencils. It’s the anticipation of the school year ahead, of seeing new friends … and the realization that suddenly I’m back to packing lunches for our kids five times a week.

Last school year, we challenged ourselves to have a full year of homemade lunches with no repeats. To make things more challenging, we also tried to make sure our lunches were as healthful as possible and contained minimal processed foods. Our year-long challenge left me plenty of time to experiment with finding alternatives to deli processed meats and homemade bread. By far, my boys’ favorite is this simple turkey breast recipe that yields tender, delicious turkey breast meat that’s perfect for any sandwich. And, because it’s cooked in a slow cooker, it leaves you plenty of time for all those other things on your to-do list.

Homemade Sandwich Turkey Breast

3-4 pounds turkey breast, thawed (we use the Butterball turkey breast roast)
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika
1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
½ teaspoon thyme leaves
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
1 large yellow onion, sliced into 1” wedges that can lay flat
1 small head of garlic, cut in half across the cloves

1. Drain thawed turkey breast and, if using a Butterball turkey roast, discard the gravy packet.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and thyme leaves. It should be thick and saucy, but spreadable.
3. With the turkey breast still in its netting, rub the olive oil paste around the top and sides of the turkey breast.
4. Quarter the onion and halve the garlic so that they can lay flat and place into the slow cooker.
5. Place the turkey breast roast on top of the onions and garlic and cook on low for 6 hours.
6. Once fully cooked, remove turkey and cool until it’s easily sliced. Voila!

Pro Tip: This recipe also freezes well! Slice to desired thickness and freeze between pieces of freezer paper in a sealed plastic bag. To use, simply thaw overnight. We find that our turkey breast can last 3-4 months in the freezer.