Repurpose holiday leftovers with these tasty and calorie-conscious recipes.

The post-meal “food coma” may be a Thanksgiving tradition, but you may not want a full week of them as you work through your leftovers! Instead, repurpose the remainders from your feast into these healthy meals, so you can use them up without overdoing the richness and calories.

Healthy ways to use holiday leftovers:

  1. Stuffed peppers or mushrooms
  2. Whole-grain sandwich
  3. Cinnamon sweet potato smoothie
  4. Power bowl
  5. Pumpkin & sweet potato soup
  6. Cranberry apple oatmeal
  7. Shepherd’s pie
  8. Holiday salads

Keep reading to learn how to create these healthy meals using Thanksgiving leftovers.

Stuffed peppers or mushrooms

One of the healthy ways to use holiday meal leftovers is make stuffed peppers or mushrooms

Photo credit: Eat This, Not That

Any food gets an automatic health boost when you stuff it into a pepper or mushroom! Hollowed-out peppers and portobello caps make delicious and hearty vehicles for leftovers like turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and veggies. Toss them in the oven at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes and enjoy.

Whole-grain sandwich

For lunch on the go, layer turkey, cranberry sauce, avocado, and lettuce between two slices of whole-grain bread. You can even add a thin layer of stuffing for extra Thanksgiving flavors, like sage and other herbs.

Cinnamon sweet potato smoothie

One of the healthy ways to use holiday meal leftovers is make cinnamon sweet potato smoothie

Photo credit: Ambitious Kitchen

Another healthy way to use holiday meal leftovers is to blend them in a smoothie. Start by dicing up your leftover sweet potatoes and toss them in the freezer in preparation for this delicious – and healthy – smoothie recipe that almost tastes like a pie! Then, you’ll combine the frozen sweet potatoes, frozen banana, milk, Greek yogurt, a hint of vanilla, and Thanksgiving-inspired spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg in a blender. To make it even healthier, throw in a handful of spinach, chia seeds, oats, or frozen cauliflower.

Power bowl

Use a layer of quinoa, farro, or brown rice as the base for your power bowl, then add chopped sweet potatoes, other veggies like spinach, a spoonful of cranberry sauce, turkey, and a little gravy if you feel like it. Quinoa, in particular, is a smart accompaniment to holiday meal leftovers, as it contains plenty of plant-based protein, fiber, and vitamins to “power” you up for the day.

Pumpkin & sweet potato soup

One of the healthy ways to use holiday meal leftovers is make pumpkin sweet potato soup

Photo credit: The Spruce Eats

Leftover pumpkin (whole or pureed) and roasted sweet potatoes can join forces to create a smooth, autumn-inspired soup, like this recipe. It’s a simple soup that you can modify to taste, whether you want to add roasted garlic for flavor, hot pepper to make it spicy, or carrots to get more orange veggies in there.

Cranberry apple oatmeal

You can even incorporate your holiday meal leftovers into breakfast! If you have remaining cranberry sauce or stewed apples, add them to an oatmeal recipe like this one. As one user cautions, use water instead of milk for this oatmeal, as the acidity from cranberries can make milk separate. You can top your bowl with walnuts or almond slivers as a healthy finishing touch.

Shepherd’s pie

One of the healthy ways to use holiday meal leftovers is make Shepherd's Pie

Photo credit: It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken

You can customize a shepherd’s pie however you’d like—the two key elements are a mashed potato topping over a savory stew-like filling. For the first, you can use regular mashed potatoes or mashed sweet potatoes from your Thanksgiving table. For the filling, you could use turkey, carrots, peas, and corn, or whatever you have left in the fridge. Toss them in a light gravy to minimize calories. Or, switch things up and try a healthy vegetarian version in this lentil shepherd’s pie.

Holiday salads

You can transform candied pecans, walnuts, cranberries, sweet potatoes, shredded or cubed turkey, and any healthy leafy greens from Thanksgiving recipes into tasty salads. The beauty of this healthy way to use holiday meal leftovers is that it’s incredibly versatile. You can use almost anything you have in the fridge. And you can even top it with cranberry sauce dressing!

Thanksgiving leftovers offer endless inspiration to create healthy meals you can enjoy without guilt for days after the feast. Keep reading our health and wellness blog for more recipes and healthy lifestyle ideas.

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