6 Inexpensive and Healthy Ways to Use Your Thanksgiving Leftovers


It’s 7 a.m. on the morning after Thanksgiving. Now some of you may already be awake and shopping away for Black Friday, but the rest of us are just getting up, or even still sleeping away something of a turkey hangover. Right now the mere thought of eating one more bite of food might have us clutching out stomachs; but as we all know, this feeling won’t last. Even if you ate a whole pie and two turkeys (which, if you did, please comment below and tell us how) pretty soon you’ll be hungry again, as unimaginable as it may seem right now.

The good thing is, when your stomach does start to grumble, you probably have a whole refrigerator packed with Thanksgiving leftovers. I know, I know: Thanksgiving food might be the last thing you want to eat right now; but with some of these recipes, you can mix up the flavors, add a few new ones, and have something totally different than you did yesterday (like a facial, for example…)

And if you’re anything like me—or probably about 90% of other Americans— yesterday you ate enough calories to feed a small town. So these recipes will be healthy (or as healthy as Thanksgiving leftovers can be!), inexpensive (you already have most of the ingredients!) and easy (see parenthesis numero dos.)

Bon appetit, everyone!

Pumpkin pie facial: Okay, we’ll start with the weird one. For this face mask, all you really need is some leftover pumpkin pie, or canned pumpkin paste. The pumpkin acts as a natural exfoliant and eats away dead skin, so immediately, you’ll have a nice, natural glow. For added beautification, mix in some honey and just a teaspoon of milk. This will moisturize, balancing out the pumpkin’s exfoliation.

Turkey and Sweet Potato Sandwich:

1 cup bottled turkey gravy
1 large (8 oz) sweet potato
4 sourdough rolls
4 tsp dried sage
1 lb thickly sliced deli-style roasted turkey breast, torn or cut in 2-inch pieces (or Thanksgiving turkey leftovers)
1 cup whole- or crushed-berry cranberry sauce (not jellied.)

Preparation: Heat gravy in a small saucepan until hot, about 2 minutes. Cut sweet potato across into thin 1/4-inch slices. Place slices on a plate, sprinkle with 1 tbsp water, cover loosely with plastic wrap and microwave 6 to 7 minutes or until very soft. Split rolls in half and pour 2 tbsp gravy on each half and sprinkle sage on top. Divide turkey into 4 equal portions and place on the bottom half of rolls. Top with sweet potato slices. Spread cranberry sauce over the top half of rolls and close the sandwiches. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Turkey soup with ginger, lemon, and mint:

3 leeks (white part only), sliced 1/4 inch thick (to yield 2 cups)

4 1/2 cups turkey stock
2 carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
One 1-inch chunk fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks (to yield about 2 Tbs.)
1 cup diced cooked turkey
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup finely shredded fresh mint leaves

Preparation: Put the sliced leeks in a large bowl of cold water and let them soak for 10 minutes. Lift them out carefully, making sure to leave the grit at the bottom of the bowl behind, and set aside (there’s no need to dry them). Put the stock and carrots in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and cover the pot. Simmer for 5 minutes and then add the leeks and ginger. Continue to cook, covered until the vegetables are just tender, about another 5 minutes. Add the diced turkey, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Simmer until the turkey is heated through, about 2 minutes. Adjust the seasonings if needed, add the shredded mint, and serve immediately.

Turkey and Sweet Potato Hash:

3 oz. bacon, sliced crosswise into 1/3-inch-wide pieces (about 3 slices)
1 small yellow onion, small diced
2 cups medium-small-diced (about 1/3 inch) sweet potatoes (1 medium potato)
1 cup leftover turkey broth or low-salt chicken broth
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 cups leftover white and dark roasted turkey meat with skin, roughly chopped
1 heaping Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbs. maple syrup
2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper; more to taste
A few dashes Tabasco or other hot sauce; more to taste
Kosher salt

Preparation: Cook the bacon in a 10-inch skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat until crisp, about 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a medium bowl. Pour off and discard all but 1 Tbs. fat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, broth, and butter to the onions. Simmer, uncovered, until the sweet potatoes are just barely tender, about 6 minutes.

Meanwhile mix the turkey, parsley, maple syrup, rosemary, pepper, and Tabasco with the bacon.

When the potatoes are barely tender, add the turkey mixture to the skillet. Cook over medium-high heat, firmly patting the hash down and then occasionally flipping, scraping the bottom of the pan with a metal spatula and patting down again, until the broth has completely evaporated and the hash is nicely browned, about 8 minutes (reduce the heat if the hash is browning too quickly). Season to taste with salt, pepper, and hot sauce.

Turkey stuffed peppers:

4 red, green or yellow bell peppers, tops sliced off and chopped up
2 cups leftover rice or couscous
1 cup leftover chopped turkey
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 scallions, chopped

Preparation: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Slice off tops of bell peppers, remove seeds and discard. Chop up the bell pepper tops and place into a large bowl. Add rice or couscous, chopped meat, dried basil, parsley, chopped pepper tops, chicken stock and scallions. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper. Stuff each pepper with filling and place in a square baking dish. Bake 45 minutes or until tender

Soba Noodle Salad with cranberries and apple

4 cups water
4 ounces dried soba noodles, broken in half
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 cups cooked, chopped turkey breast meat
1/4 cup coarsely chopped dried cranberries
1/2 cup coarsely grated apple, unpeeled but cored
1/4 cup coarsely chopped green onions
1 tablespoon black or white sesame seeds
1/4 cup coarsely chopped roasted peanuts or whole sunflower seeds
4 sprigs fresh cilantro

Preparation: Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add noodles and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat; drain noodles in a strainer and cool under cold running water. Drain noodles well and transfer to a large bowl.

Add sesame oil and rice vinegar and toss to coat noodles. Stir in turkey, cranberries, apple, green onions and sesame seeds until well combined.

Swirl one-quarter of the noodles around a dinner fork. Using another fork, push the noodles of the dinner fork onto the center of a salad plate, creating a turban-like mound. Repeat with the remaining noodles. Sprinkle each serving with chopped nuts (or sunflower seeds) and garnish with a sprig of cilantro. Serve immediately.

Do you have any great ideas to use up your Thanksgiving leftovers? Share them below!

Sources: AOLNews.com (Facial), Epicurious.com (Sandwich), Finecooking.com (Ginger soup), Finecooking.com (Turkey & Sweet potato hash), Foodnetwork.com (Peppers), OregonLive.com (Soba Noodle)


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