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For about 15 years, my family’s Thanksgiving turkey shared the spotlight with various vegetarian substitutes, from standard Tofurkey to twists on tradition like walnut meatballs and lentil meatloaf. A few years ago, I reintroduced poultry to my diet. That first Thanksgiving back on the turkey train did not disappoint.
Now that real turkey is once again the star of my family’s Thanksgiving table, I’m like most Americans in the days following the big meal, asking, “What do I do with these leftovers?” Since my rule is to go all out on the holiday itself and then get back to the business of healthy eating, I keep that in mind. And it’s not only the turkey I repurpose, but also any leftover side dishes that were on the menu that day.
I’ve gotten a head start this year to help you make the most of your Thanksgiving leftovers. While it’s not possible to remove fats, flour, or cheese that was part of the original recipes, it is possible to find recipes that won’t add a lot of sugar, calories, or unhealthy fats. Try these recipes and tips to transform your Tupperware contents into easy and healthy meals.
- Turkey tostadas: This recipe is a winner for its ease. You can make these tostadas in a flash, and with little actual cook time (heating the turkey). It’s also a flexible recipe: You can add whatever toppings you’d like. Add diced leftover sweet potatoes for added vitamins and chopped avocado for a dose of good fat. I’d swap a few ingredients: plain Greek yogurt in place of sour cream for a “cleaner” approach with added protein, and these homemade corn tortillas will take your tostadas to the next level. (Don’t be intimidated. They’re really not difficult to make.)
- Potato pancakes: This recipe is a great way to pack valuable nutrients into your leftovers. If you don’t have fresh spinach, use frozen. Just make sure to squeeze the water out after thawing. You could also use finely chopped kale or chard.
- Green bean bowl: This one is easy, Paleo, gluten-free, low-carb and makes a nice full dinner in the days following Thanksgiving. This simple recipe for roasted cherry tomatoes serves as part of the base, along with green beans. Roast thick slices of onion with the tomatoes for added flavor. After the tomatoes are done, toss them with the green beans and a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and top with chopped turkey. *Warm the turkey in a covered roasting pan with chicken broth to keep it from drying out.
- Power salad. Whether you opt for cranberry sauce or cranberry salad, you can use either to make a salad with nutrient-packed color and texture. The base is the same for both: a bed of greens of your choice, like spinach, kale, or arugula. Toppings could include sunflower seeds, nuts, dried fruit, canned beets, raw veggies, and a crumbly cheese like feta or blue. If you have cranberry sauce, it’ll serve as your dressing: mix it with olive oil and whatever vinegar you like best and have on hand. If you have cranberry salad, use it as a topping and dress your salad with lemon, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
What creative ways are you looking to repurpose your leftovers? Share in the comments below!