Healthy Recipes for Your Thanksgiving Leftovers

The day after Thanksgiving, aka Black Friday, is practically a food holiday too considering refrigerators across the country are still bursting with leftover stuffing, mashed potatoes and plenty of turkey. If you’re trying to lose weight or maintain your size this holiday season, indulging in seconds and thirds of your favorite holiday dishes can really derail your efforts. As if one 3,000-calorie Thanksgiving meal wasn’t enough!

We don’t want that food to go to waste any more than you do, so here are some ideas to break up the monotony of that roasted turkey without turning a one-day calorie fest into a weekend smorgasbord.

Turkey Quesadillas: Typically we think of quesadillas being filled with cheese, which equates to fat and calories. Try putting a healthy spin on quesadillas and top them with fresh salsa, which has practically no calories.

Hot Turkey Club Sandwich: After an indulgent dinner like Thanksgiving, keeping your diet simple the next day is the easiest way to stay on track. Prepare a simple club sandwich by layering roasted turkey, tomato, spinach leaves or romaine lettuce, and a smear of guacamole or avocados (instead of mayo) on two slices of whole grain bread.

Turkey Waldorf Salad: Instead of a rich, turkey salad laden with mayonnaise and calories, opt for a lighter version of Waldorf salad. Add leftover apples, raisins, and walnuts for a satisfying crunch.

Turkey Apple Pita: Instead of grazing aimlessly during your Black Friday lunch, add roasted turkey to a whole wheat pita topped with apple slices and your favorite vegetables for a little savory and sweet flavor.

Red Beans and Rice: Let simmer all day and then serve a piping hot bowl of this New Orleans favorite while you watch football. Add any leftover roasted turkey for a leaner addition than the traditional andouille sausage.

Of course, turkey isn’t the only thing left in the fridge. Here are a few other ideas for cleaning out without pigging out.

  • Cranberries. Add a tablespoon of fresh cranberry salad to a plain, honey, or vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt for a sweet way to start your morning. If you have leftover pumpkin pie filling you can do the same with it.
  • Stuffing. Put leftover stuffing inside acorn squash or bell peppers and bake for a simple and healthy dinner.
  • Vegetables. Any leftover green beans, carrots, celery, onions, or other vegetables should be saved while you’re preparing the meal. Toss it all in a stock pot, cover with water, season with salt and pepper, and let simmer on low for several hours. Then strain the liquid off and you’ve got a homemade vegetarian broth.
  • Potatoes. Use any remaining roasted red or sweet potatoes to make a delicious side with an omelet. Heat a skillet, mist with cooking spray, and cook until warm and slightly browned.

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Kath R.
Kath P.3 years ago

Yummy way to use leftovers....thanks.

Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton3 years ago

Thanks for the recipes.

Dana W.
Dana W.3 years ago

I like some of these ideas!i

Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

Joe R.
Joe R.4 years ago


Lika S.
Lika S.4 years ago

I do well with my own stuff.

Turkey casserole -
egg noodles, cream soup, frozen mixed veggies or other left over veggies such as green bean casserole, cabbage or what have you... mix together.

Place stuffing on top, bake until crunchy.

Mashed potatoes, squash and sweet potatoes can be used as pancake mix for the next morning. Along with cranberries, it's a deal!

Sheri P.
Sheri P.4 years ago

seriously? warm potatoes and eat as an omelette side? geez, i coulda thought of that...

Marie Therese Hanulak

Very helpful

Yolanda C.
Yolanda C.4 years ago

Thank you for your helpful hints, they will come in handy. Happy Thanksgiving Day to staff and writers of Care2 website.

Laurie D.
Laurie D.4 years ago

Fun FOOD ideas! Thank you -- there were a couple I hadn't seen before!