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Seasonal Diet Tips

Explore our expert knowledge on topics such as healthy eating during the holidays, and how to live into a happier and healthier you in the New Year. Discover tips and tricks on how to avoid weight gain at holiday parties and while on vacation.

The Best Thanksgiving & Holiday Leftover Recipes

Whew! The cooking is complete, but now you have leftovers that you don't want to eat repetitively. This holiday season see which leftovers to lose and try these unique, easy & healthy ideas for the ones you keep!

The Best Thanksgiving & Holiday Leftover Recipes

The juicy ham, roast beef, and turkey dressed with stuffing. The mashed potatoes adorned with gravy. The sweet potatoes beside the roasted carrots and broccoli. The warm apple pie set beside the pumpkin pie…

This is just a mere glimpse of what is generally enjoyed for Thanksgiving dinner. And if like most households, these favorites become stored in the fridge as leftovers to eat on days following.

But do not just replate and nuke in the microwave for the rest of the week. Transform those post-Thanksgiving leftovers into new, flavorful creations!

The Best Thanksgiving & Holiday Leftover Recipes

From turkey salad to a vegetable casserole, grab the leftovers and few common staples for these best thanksgiving leftover recipes!

Turkey Salad

That turkey may have been juicy on Thanksgiving, but those leftovers can dry out quickly in the fridge.

So rather than opting for dry leftover turkey sandwiches, bring it back to life by transforming into a flavorful salad! It is perfect for a light lunch or snack when returning back to the office.

2 cups turkey, shredded
2 celery stalks, diced
2 hard boiled eggs, roughly chopped
1 small apple, cored and chopped
½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Simply combine ingredients and mix until fully incorporated. Enjoy as is, pair with chopped veggies, or top onto salad greens.

Turkey Soup

This turkey soup recipe is the epitome of repurposing. Because not only does it call for leftover meat, but uses the entire turkey!

Any leftover drippings infuses the homemade stock, also including onion, carrot, and other herbs and seasonings. The recipe can also be customized to take on ingredients you already have on hand.

Roast Beef Sandwiches & Stews

Have leftover roast beef? The possibilities are almost endless! And here are a few ways to use it:

Open-faced roast beef sandwiches dressed with gravy, onion, and provolone cheese

Classic roast beef sandwich, including with thousand island dressing, muenster cheese, tomato, and romaine lettuce

Leftover roast beef stew also prepared with onion, green pepper, roasted tomato, mushroom, and fresh herbs and seasonings

• An upgraded, quick and delicious roast beef snack. Simply place a slice of leftover roast beef on an endive leaf, sprinkle with bleu cheese, and light sour cream

• Shred roast beef onto salads, also using leftover roasted veggies from Thanksgiving

Ham & Cheddar Melt

For leftover ham, try a ham and cheddar melt on leftover rolls or bread! But not just any melt… This Thanksgiving leftover recipe gifts is gourmet with each bite you take.

1 leftover roll
2 slices of leftover ham
2 slices of fresh pear
1 slice white cheddar cheese

1. Cut leftover roll into two halves. Simply layer ham, pear, and cheese onto roll.
2. Preheat griddle to medium heat. Cook sandwiches about 2 minutes on each side, or until bottoms are golden and cheese is melted.
3. Add Dijon mustard or red pepper jelly to elevate the flavor as desired.

Cheese Fondue

Truly elevate the potential of leftover cheeses by preparing a cheese fondue!

Use leftover vegetables, including boiled baby potatoes, steamed broccoli and cauliflower florets, and cherry tomatoes. Also dip sliced apples leftover from apple pie.

With leftover dinner rolls or bread, make homemade croutons to dip into the fondue.

Quick, Homemade Croutons:
Cut bread into cubes and add to a baking pan. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder, onion, powder, oregano and other favorite seasonings. Cook in a 400°F degree oven for about 8 minutes then flip. Cooking for an additional 5 to 8 minutes, or until crispy and golden.

Vegetable Casserole

Repurpose those leftover veggies to make a casserole for dinner or lunches to eat on during the week. This harvest vegetable casserole recipe overflows with nutrients, but perfectly balanced with melty cheese.

Preparing a vegetable casserole can also be an egg-cellent pairing to eggs for a nutrient-dense breakfast. Also accompany a lean protein for a satisfying meal.

Vegetable Puree Soup

Leftover root vegetables are the perfect base for a warm soup! What's more, preparing this vegetable puree soup is simple and versatile to take on the available ingredients.

5 cups of any leftover root veggies, including yams, carrots, onions, and squash varieties
3 cups of chicken broth
Salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste

1. Add ingredients to large stockpot and puree with an immersion blender. Also puree in batches as needed.
2. Heat thoroughly and serve with leftover homemade croutons. Also garnish with grated parmesan cheese to add a depth of flavor.

You can also eliminate the chicken broth to prepare a homemade baby food! A winter root vegetable puree also makes a nice, light side dish.

Repurposed Potatoes

Potatoes are a staple with Thanksgiving, no matter the meat prepared. But they often tend to be prepared an abundance and end up in the fridge. However, you can revamp starchy veggies, including those mashed and baked potato varieties.

Repurpose those mashed potatoes and make them completely gourmet! Top with sautéed mushrooms, onions, and finely-chopped chive for a comfort food you will not forget. (And will perhaps have you making sure you have leftover mashed potatoes each year!)

With baked potatoes, cut in half and warm in the microwave or oven. Top with leftover turkey, stuffing, and shredded cheddar cheese. Nuke until the cheese is melted and dollop sour cream or leftover gravy. Garnish with chives and season with salt and pepper to taste.

As a pro tip, add a pinch of water to rehydrate the baked potato so it does not dry out. Also keep the peel on for extra fiber and nutrients!

Sweet Potatoes & Oatmeal

Have leftover sweet potatoes? Top them onto oatmeal for a healthy twist on breakfast. Because not only does it offer a natural sweetness, but is packed with fiber, plant-based protein, iron, and other nutrients.

Simply cook a serving of oatmeal per preference, including with water or milk. Add a quarter of a reheated sweet potato to oats and stir. Lightly drizzle with maple syrup and sprinkle chopped walnuts and cinnamon on top.

Other warm toppings may include honey, apples, pecans, and nutmeg. Also add extra protein by dolloping with Greek yogurt. Truly, feel free to swap toppings and make the bowl of oats completely your own!

Fruit Compote & Homemade Sangria

For leftover fruits, whip up a quick, yet decadent fruit compote!

How to Make a Fruit Compote:
1. Simply add chopped pears, apples, cranberries, blueberries, and/or raspberries to a saucepan.
2. Lightly drizzle with honey and lemon juice and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. You can also add cinnamon and nutmeg.
3. Bring temp down low-medium heat and simmer for a few more minutes.
4. Mash or strain fruit to textural preference then allow to cool.
5. Use the compote to top favorite whole grain waffle recipe, yogurt, or ice cream.

Also use leftover fruit salad to prepare a simple sangria. All to do is add fruit, preferred juice and wine to a large pitcher. Allow ingredients to marry then serve!

Sydney Lappe's Photo
Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on December 23, 2014. Updated on April 02, 2019.


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