Thankfully Light Leftovers

Our 'Recipe Doctor' offers tips on how to use up the rest of that bird

By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Expert Column

Reviewed By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD/LD

I know I'm not alone when I say that one of the best parts about the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays actually comes the day after -- leftovers! What's your favorite: the leftover stuffing, the mashed potatoes, or a slice of pumpkin pie?

In honor of the season, and the leftover turkey we all hope to have sitting in our refrigerator after the hordes of dinner guests have departed, I wanted to share a few of my favorite leftover turkey tips and recipes.

10 Light & Tasty Ways to Enjoy Leftover Turkey

10) Make a turkey salad sandwich by mixing a little light mayonnaise with just as much fat-free sour cream and stir in diced turkey along with some chopped celery, a pinch of Dijon mustard, and a sprinkle of toasted pecans or walnuts. Serve on whole-grain bread or a whole-grain roll.

(Check out my Turkey and Cranberry Sandwich recipe below.)

9) Add diced turkey to whatever soup, stew, or chowder you enjoy. You can even buy low-fat canned soup (like chicken noodle, minestrone, etc.) and stir some diced turkey into the saucepan when you are heating it up.

8) Use shredded turkey in place of chicken in your favorite Mexican recipes, such as enchiladas, quesadillas, tamales, etc.

7) Add shredded turkey to your favorite pasta dish, such as light fettuccine Alfredo (see recipe below), lasagna, pesto and pasta, even chilled pasta salad.

6) Add shredded turkey to your favorite rice dish, such as a rice casserole, a saffron or savory rice dish, or even a cold rice salad.

5) Make an individual serving of stuffing casserole. Stir about 1/3 cup of shredded turkey meat (and 1/3 cup of some vegetables if desired) into a small microwave-safe bowl, along with about 1 cup of leftover stuffing. Top with a spoon of gravy or grated reduced-fat cheese, if desired. Cover and reheat mixture in the microwave about 2 minutes on HIGH.

(Or try out my Irish Shepherd's Pie recipe below!)

4) Turkey chili will heat things up the day after Thanksgiving. Make your favorite light chili recipe but instead of adding in browned ground beef or beef chunks, stir in some diced or shredded turkey.

3) Enjoy a light turkey Caesar salad the next day. Mix up a quick Caesar salad using Romaine lettuce, tomato wedges, and fat-free or low-fat Caesar salad croutons (available in most supermarkets). Top the salad with plenty of shredded turkey and drizzle bottled light Caesar salad dressing over the top. If you can't find light Caesar dressing in your market, make up your own by blending 1/2 cup of regular Caesar dressing with 1/2 cup of apple juice.

2) Don't wait until lunch to enjoy your leftover turkey. Add some shredded turkey to your breakfast omelet or frittata. Turkey goes well with the fixings we normally add to our omelets and frittatas -- green onions, avocado, vegetables, reduced-fat cheese, fat-free sour cream, etc.

1) Transform leftover turkey into an elegant turkey divan by topping a turkey and broccoli casserole with melted reduced-fat cheese and a light crumb topping.

Turkey and Cranberry Sandwich

I know you are all going to want to make turkey sandwiches the day after Thanksgiving. To give you yet another sandwich to enjoy, other than the standard turkey sandwich, here's a sandwich that uses the leftover cranberry sauce as well!

2 slices whole-grain bread or 1 whole-grain roll
1 to 2 tablespoons light cream cheese
1 to 2 tablespoons cranberry sauce
A couple of carved slices of turkey (about the size of the palm of your hand)
Lettuce, tomato, sliced onion, alfalfa sprouts (as desired)

  • Spread the cream cheese over one of the slices of bread or roll. Spread cranberry sauce over the top of that.
  • Add the slices of turkey and top with lettuce, tomato, sliced onion or alfalfa sprouts as desired. Enjoy!

Makes 1 sandwich.

Per sandwich: 339 calories, 33 g protein, 36 g carbohydrates, 6.5 g fat (3.2 g saturated fat, 0.9 g monounsaturated fat, 0.7 g polyunsaturated fat), 81 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 419 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 17%.

The Day After Irish Shepherd's Pie

This is a wonderful way to enjoy the leftover mashed potatoes, green vegetables, and gravy, too!

Canola cooking spray
2/3 cup chopped mild or sweet onion
2 cups diced roasted turkey
2 cups leftover gravy
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
1-2 cups assorted leftover vegetables (optional)
2 cups mashed potatoes
1 tablespoon butter or no/low-trans fat margarine
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Farenheit. Coat the inside of a deep-dish pie plate with canola cooking spray.
  • Coat a large, nonstick skillet with canola cooking spray, add the onion, and cook until the onion is lightly browned. With the spatula, stir in the diced turkey, gravy, Worcestershire sauce, and leftover vegetables, if desired.
  • Spread the turkey mixture evenly in the prepared pie plate. Spread the mashed potatoes evenly over the meat. With the fork, make a design in the mashed potatoes. Set aside.
  • In a microwave-safe cup, melt the butter in the microwave (or melt it in saucepan over low heat on the stove). With a pastry brush, brush the top of the potatoes with the melted butter. Sprinkle black pepper over the top if desired.
  • Place pie dish in the oven and cook until heated through and golden on top (about 25 minutes).


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