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Healthy Ways to Deal With Thanksgiving Leftovers

Thanksgiving never seems to be a one-day affair, at least not the food part. Properly stored, leftovers can last up to four days, beckoning you to eat more, more, and then some! This Thanksgiving, resist the urge to overindulge by finding healthier alternatives for your T-day leftovers. Here are a few of our ideas — share your own in the comments section below.

  • Get rid of them. Buy some inexpensive containers before your meal to pack up leftovers for guests and send friends and family home with the most decadent dishes.
  • Make a healthy salad. Turkey is packed full of protein and tastes great on a salad. Use leftover cranberry sauce to make a healthy dressing — mix a dab with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  • Make a turkey curry. Turkey is great in a curry because it easily soaks up the flavors of a sauce. Try using turkey instead of the tofu in our Indian-Spiced Chard recipe.

For more healthy leftover ideas,


  • Make turkey stock. I always like to have broth or stock on hand because it adds a ton of flavor to my cooking and can be the base of a variety of dishes. Storebought broth usually has a ton of added salt, so I think it's best to make your own. Save the carcass of the bird and break it up into a large stock pot, then add mirepoix, garlic, and savory herbs. Cover the entire mixture by at least two inches of water and let simmer for five hours. If the water level falls below the ingredients, add more liquid to the mix. Cool quickly, store in the refrigerator, or freeze.
  • Use turkey stock to make a delicious soup. Cut up any extra veggies you have leftover from your T-day meal or ingredients, add some barley or brown rice, throw it in your stock, and you've got a simple, tasty soup.
  • Puree leftover vegetables. Healthy vegetable side dishes are great to have after Thanksgiving, but give them new life and puree them. A veggie puree can be the base of a soup or pasta sauce. Veggie purees can also add moisture to baked goods.
  • Make an open-faced sandwich. Everybody loves the day after Thanksgiving sandwich. Make your sandwich healthier by only using one slice of bread.
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