ClickCease Tips for Thanksgiving Leftovers | Using Thanksgiving Leftover
Turkey Left overs reciped

Leftovers — What to do? Danielle Sikorski, registered dietitian

Tips for Thanksgiving Leftovers!


Thanksgiving is over but your fridge is stuffed with bits of leftover turkey, hardened mashed potatoes, maybe a little bit of cranberry sauce and a few other things. In the days leading up to Thanksgiving all you could think about was how you would savor every bite of these delicious dishes and somehow now the very thought of them makes you lose your appetite. You still feel full from Thanksgiving Dinner and you might have had just a little too much Pumpkin Pie.

What do you do?

Like I said before Thanksgiving, ONE day isn’t going to completely sabotage your health or your waistline. The key is to keep it at one day. I’m not saying waste leftovers, but instead, re-invent them in healthier ways! Make sure that after Thanksgiving, you get back into a healthy routine even with the leftovers.

Thanksgiving Leftovers!

Thanksgiving Leftovers!

Here are some “Dos” and “Don’ts” to get you back on track with your leftovers:

–  Don’t live in a world of regret or guilt.

According to Torey Jones Armul, RDN, National Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “Feeling guilty doesn’t lead to healthier eating and is more often associated with perpetuating emotional and binge eating behaviors,” You can’t go backward: Tell yourself you’ll start making healthier decisions starting right now.

– Do Exercise!

Yes, I realize that this might be the last thing you want to do when you have a Turkey Hangover but this will enable your body to get that undigested food moving through your system. Your lymph system is the detoxification system of your body and it only works at a high level, when your body is moving. Movement is an excellent way to mobilize waste products for elimination naturally!

This can be a brisk walk with the family or an exercise class at your local gym. Enlist friends and family to join you! Exercise is always more fun with friends. Check with your doctor first before doing any exercise.

– Don’t try to starve yourself in effort to “Undo” your intake the day before.

This will only back fire at the end of the day. You’re much more inclined to pile up a plate of pumpkin pie after restricting yourself of essential nutrients all day.

– Do listen to your body.

Naturally, you might not be as hungry in the days following Thanksgiving so don’t eat out of habit. If your stomach is bloated or upset, try starting your day with fresh lemon water, ginger tea, or peppermint tea. Be mindful of what you put in your mouth, but if you’re hungry—eat! Choose foods that are rich in protein, and, as I always say….LOAD up on veggies.

– Don’t leave tempting leftovers on the counter or in your line of vision in the refrigerator!

The saying “out of site, out of mind” is true! If you live those pumpkin muffins or buttery rolls on your counter, they will call to you every time you step foot in your kitchen. It will only be a matter of time (minutes..maybe hours) before they somehow find their way into your mouth.

– Do pre-slice leftovers that are desserts and freeze some for later.

Put the other leftovers (mac and cheese, green bean casserole, etc.) in ½ cup servings so that you can enjoy them in a balanced manner.


If you’d rather not continue to eat your leftovers “as-is,” here are some ways to give them new life!


Turkey Chili (with Leftovers) Recipe

  • Prep time:10 minutes
  • Cook time:1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Yield:Serves 8


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder (or up to 4 Tbsp if you like it more hot)
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 3 15-ounce cans crushed tomatoes (fire roasted if you can get it)
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup of turkey stock or chicken stock
  • Two 15 oz cans kidney beans, drained
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt, plus more if desired to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 to 4 cups of shredded, cooked turkey meat
  • 1 to 3 teaspoons sugar (optional)
  • Shredded cheddar cheese, chopped green or red onion, sour cream for optional garnish.


1 In a large, 8-quart, thick-bottom pot, heat the olive oil on medium high heat. Add the onions and green peppers and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlicchili powder, and cumin, and cook, stirring, for a minute or two more. Add a bit more olive oil if needed.


2 Add tomatoestomato pastestockkidney beansoreganosaltpepper, and cooked turkey meat. Bring mixture to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Simmer, partially covered, for an hour.


3 Salt to taste. Add sugar to taste if needed to balance the acidity of the tomatoes.

The chili may be made in advance and chilled for 2 days, or frozen for 2 months.

Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup

1 tbsp. butter or coconut oil
1 cup red lentils, rinsed
5 cups vegetable stock
2 leftover sweet potatoes or yams
2 chopped onions
1 chopped green pepper
2 chopped garlic cloves
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. chilli powder (optional)
1tbsp. chopped fresh ginger
Chopped cilantro
2 tomatoes or 1 can tomatoes

Heat the butter and sauté the garlic, ginger and onion. Add the spices (coriander, chilli, cumin). Stir in stock and lentils, tomatoes, sweet potatoes (or leftover pumpkin) and bring to boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. Blend in a food processor until smooth. Add vinegar and stir well. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve. Enjoy!

The lentils in this dish are a great source of protein and will help keep blood sugar levels stable if you are prone to low blood sugar. Lentils are also quick and easy to prepare since they don’t require soaking.


Turkey (leftovers) Waldorf Salad

Total Time: 20 min.
Prep Time: 20 min.
Cooking Time: None
Yield: 4 servings, about 1¼ cups each

½ cup low-fat (1%) plain yogurt
4 tsp. olive oil mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. raw honey
½ tsp. sea salt (or Himalayan salt)
½ tsp. ground black pepper
2½ cups shredded roasted turkey breast (approximately 12 oz.)
2 medium celery stalks, sliced
1 medium Granny Smith apple, chopped
¼ cup chopped raw walnuts
1 cup halved red grapes
8 Boston (or Bibb) lettuce leaves

1. Combine yogurt, mayonnaise, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl; mix well. Set aside.
2. Combine turkey, celery, apple, walnuts, and grapes in a medium serving bowl; mix well.
3. Add yogurt mixture; toss gently to blend.
4. Serve on top of lettuce.

Here are some other ways to use the last of those turkey leftovers:

  • Throw it into a chef salad!
  • Make turkey tacos!
  • Instead of deli meat, slice it thin and use it in sandwiches.
  • Instead of chicken salad, sub your turkey!



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Danielle Crumble Smith

Danielle is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist currently living in Colorado though she is originally from TN and has lived in AK, CA, and NV. She and her husband, Colton, have two crazy dogs and are expecting twins in August. She received her degree in Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Science from California State University at Northridge and has since worked in a variety of roles as Dietitian over the past 7 years. Danielle has experience working in both clinical inpatient settings as well as outpatient. Her client/patient population has spanned from individuals with Food Allergies, Gastrointestinal Disorders, Eating Disorders, Autoimmune conditions, Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Sports Performance and Weight Management. In her free time, Danielle loves hiking with her husband, having FaceTime dates with family and doing anything outside!




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