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Holiday Leftovers Made Healthy

The holiday feast has come to end, but that doesn’t mean you have to be done eating. Instead of tossing aside the holiday leftovers to avoid overindulging, take advantage of the extra nutritious meals you can easily whip up. You don’t have to settle for a cold turkey sandwich or a boring reheated bowl of mashed potatoes; there are plenty of ways to revive those Thanksgiving leftovers to taste like brand new meals. Here are some delicious ways to re-vamp holiday leftovers:

1. Turkey:

  • Shred pieces of turkey and mix with crushed tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, and beans. Add some spices and a bit of low sodium broth for a unique spin on chili.

  • Whip up some turkey wraps for lunch with spinach and cranberry sauce or make a turkey pita pocket with mashed avocado and arugula.

2. Mashed Potatoes:

  • Combine your cold mashed potatoes with egg whites, parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs to make easy potato patties. Just cook on a skillet with a bit of oil to crisp the outsides and warm up the center.

  • Reuse your leftover mashed potatoes and make mini vegetable shepherd’s pie in ramekins or muffin tins.

3. Stuffing:

  • Carve out a bell pepper, mushroom cap, squash or zucchini and fill them with a scoop of leftover stuffing, top with a sprinkle of cheese and bake.

  • Stick your leftover stuffing in oven safe ramekins, add an egg and bake to make an easy on-the-go breakfast.

4. Sweet Potatoes:

  • Scoop out the inside of a leftover sweet potato and fill it with beans, salsa and cheese or nutritional yeast. Crack an egg on top and bake for a Mexican inspired breakfast.

  • Puree leftover sweet potatoes and add in olive oil, chickpeas, garlic, and spices to create a tasty hummus you can spread on crackers and veggies.

5. Cranberry Sauce:

  • Cranberry energy bites. Incorporate the sweet sauce in an energy bite mixture with oats, peanut butter and chia seeds for a healthy snack on-the-go.

  • Top whole-grain pancakes with cranberry sauce in place of maple syrup.

Here are some other things to keep in mind while you enjoy your leftovers:

  • Be mindful of portions: using a visual representation of serving size is a helpful way to make your plate and prevent overindulging. For example, a deck of cards can represent a serving of protein (3oz). One half cup or an ice cream scoop would be appropriate for a single portion of carbohydrates (stuffing, mashed potatoes). When drizzling cranberry sauce or gravy over a meal, a golf ball sized amount or one fourth cup can be just enough.

  • Have variety at each meal: when cooking leftovers, try not to only choose the potatoes and pie, but vegetables and protein as well. Incorporating each food group onto the leftover dishes you create makes for a satisfying, nutrient dense meal.

  • Share with others: if you feel that you simply cannot keep or fit all of the leftovers into your fridge, share with your dinner guests. Creating doggy bags ahead of time will make the process go faster and make it easier for guests to take a meal home. If you’re still left with a lot food, consider offering it to a neighbor who may not have gone anywhere for Thanksgiving.

Bottom line: cumbersome amounts of leftovers don’t have to overwhelm you over the holidays, and can actually lessen your stress when preparing future meals. With less time spent at the grocery store and more time eating these revamped dishes, the fear of too many leftovers will be no longer.

Learn more about ways to stay healthy during the holidays and other wellness programs offered by Wellness Workdays.

Written by: Caroline Guilford, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern



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