Healthy Post-Holiday Meals: 6 Nutritious Ways to Use Your Leftovers

Beloved Thanksgiving leftovers can cause quite a conundrum if you are hoping to quickly get back on track with your diet. You don’t want to waste your extra turkey, potatoes, and sauces, but you also don’t want to indulge in post-Thanksgiving meals that will pack on the pounds. The best way to avoid derailing your diet without tossing out your turkey leftovers is to use your extra holiday food to make healthy, wholesome, and nutritious meals that won’t ruin your waistline.

Turn your turkey into low-fat tostadas, use cranberry sauce to create whole-grain sandwiches, and transform your potatoes into a nutrient-rich soup. Here are six recipes that turn your Turkey Day leftovers into healthy meals you can feel good about eating.

Source: iStock

1. Turkey Hash With Sunny-Side-Up Eggs

Thanks to Country Living, you can turn your turkey leftovers into a nutritious and delicious breakfast. Filled with hearty ingredients like red potatoes, onions, peppers, and eggs, this satisfying dish will provide you with plenty of nutrients. Best Health notes that eggs contain vitamins A, B, and E, iron, zinc, and phosphorus, and can help boost weight loss. The recipe yields 8 servings, with each containing 230 calories, 10 grams of fat, and 18 grams of protein.


  • 1 pound red potatoes, diced
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil, for frying eggs
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1½ tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cups (about 1 pound) diced leftover white and dark meat roast turkey, skin removed
  • 8 large eggs

Directions: In a medium pot of cold water over high heat, bring potatoes and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes, drain potatoes, and set aside. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-low heat. Sauté onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add red bell pepper, 1 tablespoon thyme, pepper, and remaining salt, and sauté for 3 minutes more. Increase heat to medium-high, add 1 tablespoon more oil, reserved potatoes, and turkey and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Add ¼ cup water and stir to mix. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes more. Remove hash from heat and cover loosely with foil. In two large nonstick skillets over medium heat, heat 2 teaspoons oil in each. Add 4 eggs to each pan and fry until whites are cooked, about 4 minutes. Divide hash among serving plates and top each with a fried egg, taking care not to break yolks. Garnish with remaining thyme.

Source: iStock

2. Grilled Turkey and Cranberry Sandwich

Looking for a light and flavorful sandwich to make for lunch? We suggest preparing Prevention’s Grilled Turkey and Cranberry Sandwich, which puts your leftover cranberry sauce and turkey to good use. WebMD explains that cranberries contain vitamin C and fiber, and when it comes to antioxidants, they outrank nearly every other fruit and vegetable. The recipe yields 4 servings.


  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 8 slices whole-grain bread
  • 4 ounces Pepper Jack or mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 8 ounces roast turkey, sliced
  • ½ cup leftover cranberry sauce, strained if runny

Directions: Heat 1 teaspoon oil in large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Place 2 slices of bread in pan and top with one-quarter of the cheese and half the turkey. Spread half of sauce over turkey and top with another quarter of the cheese and slice of bread. Cook until browned, about 4 minutes. Remove from pan, add another teaspoon of oil, and cook second side until toasted, about 3 minutes. Repeat for remaining 2 sandwiches.

Source: iStock

3. Tofu Sandwich With Golden Spread

Lunch Box Bunch delivers a vegetarian sandwich that calls for your leftover sweet potatoes. You’ll use a healthy whole-grain bread, coconut oil, pumpkin, sweet potato, hummus, and spicy seasonings to create this wholesome dish, which works wonderfully for lunch or dinner.


  • Bread
  • Toppings: tomato, lettuce or mache, onion


  • 2 long cubed slices of tofu (you will need about 2 pieces per large sandwich)
  • 1 teaspoon virgin coconut oil (or another cooking oil)
  • Salt, pepper, and chipotle powder, to taste
  • Optional: sprinkles of nutritional yeast

Golden spread

  • 1 cup sweet potato, mashed
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree (canned, unsweetened)
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons garlic hummus
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Drizzle of maple or agave syrup
  • Spicy accent: a few dashes of chipotle powder

Directions: Slice tofu from package, long and thickly cubed. Press out liquid from tofu using paper towel. Sauté on high heat, about 3 minutes on each side. Sprinkle seasonings while the tofu cooks in the oiled pan. To make the golden spread, combine ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Next, you will need to heat the spread.

You can simmer in a small pot on the stove until warm or simply heat in the microwave. To assemble the sandwich, toast bread. Apply golden spread to the bottom layer of bread. If desired, you can apply to the top layer, too. Add the warm tofu over top, followed by the veggie toppings. Close sandwich, slice, and enjoy while still warm.

Source: iStock

4. Turkey Tostadas

Health delivers a nutritious dish that combines your turkey leftovers with whole grains and plenty of produce. One of this recipe’s healthiest ingredients is the avocado, which is packed with potassium, vitamins  B, C, E, and K, folate, pantothenic acid, niacin, riboflavin, and healthy fats, according to Care 2 . This recipe yields 4 servings, with each containing 395 calories, 11 grams of fat, 12 grams of fiber, and 30 grams of protein.


  • 4 (8-inch) whole-wheat tortillas
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 (16-ounce) can fat-free refried black beans
  • ¾ cup bottled chunky salsa, divided
  • 1½ cups shredded cooked turkey
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled queso fresco or farmer cheese
  • 1 cup chopped tomato
  • ½ avocado, peeled and cut into 12 slices
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray both sides of each tortilla with cooking spray; arrange on large baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 3½ minutes on each side or until lightly toasted. Combine beans and ¼ cup salsa in a microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high 4 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring after 2 minutes; set aside.

Combine turkey and ½ cup salsa in a microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Divide bean mixture among tortillas; top with turkey mixture. Sprinkle with queso fresco; top with tomato. Arrange 3 avocado slices over each tostada; sprinkle each evenly with cilantro.

Source: iStock

5. Curried Sweet Potato Soup

Shape’s rich and creamy Curried Sweet Potato Soup is packed with nutritious ingredients and superb seasonings. It’s unbelievably easy to make and yields 2 servings.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • ½ teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 cups leftover mashed or roasted sweet potatoes
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • Greek yogurt, for garnish
  • Cilantro leaves, for garnish

Directions: In a medium Dutch oven, heat olive oil over a medium flame. Add onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in curry powder and sauté for another 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add sweet potatoes, broth, and salt and turn heat to high. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook 20 to 25 minutes, until mixture has reduced and the flavors have melded. Use an immersion blender, food processor, or blender to puree mixture. Add milk and taste for seasoning. Garnish with a dollop of yogurt and some cilantro leaves.

Source: iStock

6. Warm Turkey and Spinach Salad With Crispy Pancetta and Cranberry Vinaigrette

Using your Turkey Day leftovers, spinach, peppers, and a zesty vinaigrette, you can make Cooking Light’s satisfying salad. The recipe yields 5 servings, with each containing 349 calories, 17 grams of fat, and 29 grams of protein.



  • 2 small poblano peppers
  • 4 cups chopped leftover cooked turkey
  • 6 cups pre-washed spinach
  • 2 cups torn Boston lettuce
  • 2 ounces pancetta
  • ½ cup minced shallots
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ cup whole-berry cranberry sauce or leftover cranberry relish
  • 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Directions: To prepare the salad, preheat your broiler. Cut peppers in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil 15 minutes or until blackened. Place in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 5 minutes. Peel and chop peppers. Combine peppers, turkey, spinach, and lettuce in a large bowl.

To prepare vinaigrette, cook the pancetta in a skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove pancetta from pan; chop and set aside. Reserve 1 tablespoon of drippings in pan. Add shallots and garlic to pan, and sauté for 1 minute or until tender. Stir in the cranberry sauce, vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Cook over medium-low heat 2 minutes or until warm. Pour warm vinaigrette over the salad; toss. Top with pancetta. Serve immediately.

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