Healthy Meals to Use Up Thanksgiving Leftovers

Healthy Meals to Use Up Thanksgiving LeftoversBy Wendy Ruopp, Managing Editor of EatingWell

We have an open-door policy when it comes to Thanksgiving: we welcome in anyone who turns up. Especially this year, when the wild fall weather has made travel planning difficult and unpredictable, chances are a lot more people will be staying closer to home. Their last-minute plans mean I'll want to cook a big turkey, to make sure we have enough. Chances are good that I'll go overboard (Thanksgiving math always trips me up--is it 20 ounces per person or 20 minutes per pound?) and that means leftovers.

Good--I love leftovers. They call for creativity and resourcefulness so it doesn't taste like you're eating the same thing night after night. Here are 5 dinner recipes that use leftover turkey in deliciously new, healthy ways.

Cream of Turkey & Wild Rice SoupTurkey Soup: My mom always ended Thanksgiving Day with a big pot of soup simmering on the back of the stove and I like to do that too. This year, try using your leftovers in this healthy recipe for Cream of Turkey & Wild Rice Soup. After all the cooking you've been doing lately, an easy dinner that's ready in 35 minutes is something to celebrate.

Warm Winter SaladTurkey-Topped Winter Salad: Sometimes (especially after a few days of pie at every meal), I'm just craving more vegetables. That makes this recipe for Warm Winter Salad a welcome way to turn turkey leftovers into a healthy main course dinner salad.

Sweet Potato-Turkey HashTurkey Sweet Potato Hash: If you didn't get your fill of sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving (or if you have some leftover sweet potatoes as well as leftover turkey), may I suggest this delicious Sweet Potato-Turkey Hash for dinner tonight?

Crispy Turkey Tostadas.Crispy Turkey Tostadas: When I'm ready to change things up, I take my leftovers south of the border for Crispy Turkey Tostadas. The creamy avocado, zesty salsa and crisp tortillas make for a snappy supper that's also ready in a snap--just 35 minutes.

Turkey & Leek Shepherd's Pie: I like to keep the cozy Thanksgiving feelings going with a classic comfort-food casserole like this Turkey & Leek Shepherd's Pie (pictured above). It helpfully combines your leftover turkey with healthy vegetables (leeks, carrots, peas) in a creamy sauce. It's also a great excuse to eat more mashed potatoes!

Don't Miss: Cheesy Pasta and More Recipes with Leftover Turkey

Turkey & Leek Shepherd's Pie
Active time: 45 minutes | Total: 1 1/4 hours | Equipment: 10-inch pie pan or other 2-quart baking dish

The mashed potato-covered shepherd's pie was originally created to use up the leftovers from a festive roast. This version blends peas, leeks and carrots with diced turkey, all in a creamy herb sauce. The dish is a perfect way to create a second meal with the holiday turkey but if you like, use leftover roast chicken, duck or goose.

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, well washed and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced carrots
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage or 1/2 teaspoon dried, rubbed
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cups diced cooked turkey or chicken (see Tip)
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Mashed Potatoes
2 pounds potatoes, preferably Yukon Gold, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2-3/4 cup nonfat buttermilk (see Tip)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1. To prepare filling: Preheat oven to 425°F. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leeks and carrots and cook, stirring, until the leeks soften, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute more.
2. Pour in wine and stir until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add flour and sage and cook, stirring constantly, until the flour starts to turn light brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in broth and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens and the carrots are barely tender, about 5 minutes.
3. Add turkey (or chicken) and peas and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture to a deep 10-inch pie pan or other 2-quart baking dish and set aside.
4. To mash potatoes and bake pie: Place potatoes in a large saucepan and add cold salted water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, partially covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and return the potatoes to the pan. Cover and shake the pan over low heat to dry the potatoes slightly, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
5. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or whip with an electric mixer, adding enough buttermilk to make a smooth puree. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in egg and 1 tablespoon oil.
6. Spread the potatoes on top of the turkey mixture. With the back of a spoon, make decorative swirls. Set the dish on a baking sheet and bake until the potatoes and filling are heated through and the top is golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.

Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 331 calories; 8 g fat (2 g sat, 4 g mono); 73 mg cholesterol; 42 g carbohydrate; 22 g protein; 5 g fiber; 358 mg sodium; 991 mg potassium.
Nutrition bonus: Vitamin A (120% daily value), Vitamin C (63% dv), Potassium (29% dv), Iron (19% dv).

Tip: Use leftover roasted turkey or chicken. Or to poach chicken breasts, place boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a medium skillet or saucepan. Add lightly salted water to cover and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer gently until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the middle, 10 to 12 minutes.

Tip: No buttermilk? You can use buttermilk powder prepared according to package directions. Or make "sour milk": mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup milk.

What do you make with your Thanksgiving leftovers?

By Wendy Ruopp

Wendy Ruopp has been the managing editor of EatingWell for most of her adult life. Although she writes about food for the Weeknights column of EatingWell Magazine, her husband does the cooking at home.

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