We all know that feeling of joy when imagining the never-ending array of sinfully scrumptious leftover dishes that follow the big Turkey Day. Turkey sandwiches, turkey burritos, turkey pot pies, turkey salads, turkey casseroles… the turkey possibilities are endless.
The real challenge lies in not what you can recreate with all those leftovers, but how you can recreate it while maintaining a healthy diet. Your personal trainer most likely allots a 24-hour break from your normal diet but here are some recipe ideas and 10 low fat ways to use your leftovers and still remain conscientious about your waistline.
For breakfast, shoot for 300 to 350 calories.
For me, this means having a piece of leftover pumpkin pie and a cup of coffee with plenty of nonfat milk. (Why? Pumpkin pie is one of my favorite treats and if I don’t have it for breakfast, I’m going to eat it later, adding an extra 300 calories to my day.) Plus, pumpkin pie isn’t the worst thing in the world to eat: it has a little bit of fiber and more than 100% of your recommended daily value for vitamin A. But if you think having another piece of pie will launch you into full-blown holiday-eating mode, opt for something more ordinary, like an English muffin with some peanut butter and an orange or a bowl of oatmeal with raisins. The key is to start your day feeling satisfied.
At lunchtime, shoot for 325 to 400 calories.
Make yourself a big green salad and top it with leftover turkey and maybe even some green beans and whatever is remaining of the veggie platter. Toss with a few tablespoons of a lower-calorie dressing and have a small whole-grain roll.
- Soups Add 2 cups of chopped leftover turkey, a selection of chopped vegetables and 1 cup of uncooked rice or noodles to 3 cans fat-free, low sodium chicken broth.
- Salads Add leftover turkey to a mix of arugula and spinach, sliced mushrooms, cranberries, shredded carrots, sliced red onions and a sprinkling of heart-healthy walnuts. Toss with your favorite low fat or fat free fruity dressing or vinaigrette.
- Sandwiches and Wraps Use slices of leftover turkey to make all kinds of sandwiches. Be sure to use whole grain breads and rolls, and low fat or fat free fillings. If you don’t like the taste of fat-free mayo, use mustard instead, or flavor your mayo with a little curry powder or another herb or spice. Make a turkey-salad filling with crunchy celery, cranberries and apple. Use plain low fat yogurt for the dressing. Stuff into a whole wheat pita or spoon into the center of a whole wheat tortilla wrap and roll up.
- Pizza Toppings Top a prepared whole wheat crust with 1/2 cup of tomato or barbecue sauce, 1 cup of chopped turkey and 1/2 cup reduced fat cheese. Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees.
- Quesadillas Combine shredded turkey with a little cumin. Spoon on one half of a low fat corn tortilla; sprinkle with reduced fat cheese; fold tortilla in half and cook in a nonstick skillet (coated with cooking spray) for 5 minutes, turning once.
- Burritos, Enchiladas, Fajitas, and Tacos Add shredded turkey to salsa, black beans, low fat sour cream and reduced fat cheese; or combine with sautéed onions and sweet peppers; with shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes; or mix with mild green chiles, seasonings, scallions and a can of enchilada sauce. Use low fat flour or corn wraps with these fillings.
- Pot pies Add leftover turkey, sliced mushrooms and leftover green beans and carrots to low fat, reduced sodium condensed chicken or mushroom soup. Top with a low fat biscuit topping (there’s now a low fat version of Bisquick) or phyllo pastry sheets.
- Casseroles Combine 2 cups chopped leftover turkey with 2 cups cooked whole grain rice, a can fat-free, low sodium broth or chopped tomatoes, and a selection of chopped vegetables in a 2-quart casserole. Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
- Skillet Meals Add 1 1/2 cups of chopped leftover turkey to sautéed onion, mushrooms, broccoli and rice cooked in fat-free broth. Sprinkle some parmesan before serving.
- Pasta dishes Add leftover turkey to your any number of pasta dishes. Use shredded turkey instead of ground beef in your favorite lasagna recipe. Be sure to use reduced fat cheeses.
Finally, don’t forget the carcass: put it in a big pot of water along with some onion, carrots, celery, peppercorns and herbs; bring it to a boil, then simmer. After a couple of hours, you’ll have a rich stock, which you can de-fat and use for low fat soups, stews and gravies throughout the holiday season.