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Thanksgiving leftover ideas

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Thanksgiving is not a holiday known for healthy food.  Most foods served for Thanksgiving are very heavy, and calorie-laden.  The day alone isn’t as problematic to our waistlines as the weeks’ worth of leftovers we eat afterward. And how tired do you get of eating plain turkey sandwiches and turkey tetrazzini?  Here are some ways to incorporate those leftovers into healthier meals for the week to help you get back on track right away!

  • Use shredded turkey to make a low fat chili for game day.  Just use your favorite recipe and add turkey instead of beef.
  • Try this Turkey and Squash Soup.
  • Use Coach Claire’s Whole Grain Pizza Crust to make a “Day after Thanksgiving” pizza with turkey and fixings of your choice.  Try using a little cranberry sauce instead of tomato sauce!
  • Use leftover stuffing to stuff the middle of an acorn squash or pepper and bake.
  • Try this Turkey and Leek Shepherd’s Pie to use up both turkey and mashed potatoes.
  • Use leftover sweet potatoes for Coach Claire’s Black Bean Sweet Potato Burgers.
  • Use the leftover turkey carcass and included giblets (along with some onions, celery, etc.), and make your own turkey broth from scratch!  Just submerge everything in water and boil for about an hour or two.  Allow to cool in the pot for about 30-45 minutes before straining and refrigerating.  Skim off any solid fat the next day, and portion it the way you want!  Easy, free, healthy, and delicious broth!
  • Cream of Turkey and Wild Rice Soup is great on a cold day – and a perfect use for your homemade broth!
  • Use leftover cranberry sauce to swirl into your oatmeal in the morning.
  • Try Coach Claire’s Chicken Tacos using turkey instead (without the crockpot of course).
  • Make these Sweet Potato Fritters with Smoky Pinto Beans for a kickin’ side dish!
  • Mix cranberry sauce into plain hummus for a slightly different take on an old favorite.
  • Use the cranberry hummus above to make turkey salad for sandwiches instead of mayonnaise.

Some other helpful tips are:

  • Prepare some of these foods in a healthier way to start, so you don’t have to contend with heavy sauces, brown sugar crust or marshmallow topping.
  • Send foods you know will derail you home with guests, if you are hosting.  If you are not hosting, just say “no thank you” to those leftovers.
  • If you are left with a smorgasbord of desserts, either freeze in individual portions or just throw them out.  “Wasting” half of a pecan pie will leave you feeling far less guilty than eating half of a pecan pie!
  • Be realistic.  Don’t lie to yourself with a line like this, “Sure I’ll take that whole pumpkin pie – the kids will love it!”  Are you going to eat more than you want of the pie, even though it’s “for the kids?”  Do your kids really need to eat a whole pie?  Set yourself, and your family, up for success this season, and far into the future.
  • Have a plan.  For example, plan to go to the gym the morning after Thanksgiving, know exactly what you will make with the leftovers you have, and make sure your family knows.  Going shopping on Black Friday?  What are you going to eat to help you get back on track and avoid overdoing it two days in a row?  Having a specific plan will make you more likely to follow through.

What is your favorite, healthy way to use Thanksgiving leftovers and get back on track?