Nutrition / Recipes

5 Healthy Recipes to Make With Thanksgiving Leftovers

Recreate your holiday leftovers this year with a little healthy inspiration.

‘Tis the season for too much good food! Leftovers are inevitable this time of year so we say embrace them—but keep it interesting. From casseroles to salads there are so many ways to get creative after your holiday feast. “The idea of using up all the leftovers from a memorable Thanksgiving meal is such a fantastic way to carry on the holiday into the weekend, while also reducing food waste,” shares Elise Museles, certified eating psychology and nutrition expert, and founder of the Food Story concept.

Even if you are exhausted from cooking for the holiday there are so many easy and beneficial ways to give your leftovers a healthy reboot. Nutritional experts and chefs share tips that will have you looking forward to the day (or week) after Thanksgiving more than the actual holiday!

Skillet Cranberry Chia Pudding

“The same mood-boosting nutrients as the classic chia pudding except this is the speedy five-minute warm version! Add a heaping scoop of that leftover cranberry sauce to this plant-based breakfast (or snack) to keep your blood sugar stable and your sweet tooth satisfied,” Museles explains.

* Serves 1

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons coconut oil
¼ cup chia seeds
1 cup plant-based milk of choice
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
¼ teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of sea salt
Maple syrup or sweetener of choice to taste
2 to 3 tablespoons cranberry sauce
1 teaspoon lemon or orange zest

Note: Other topping ideas include: apple, pear, pomegranate seeds, pecans, and extra cinnamon.

Directions:

  1. Add the coconut oil to an 8-inch skillet or medium-sized pot over medium heat.
  2. Once the oil has melted, pour the nut milk and chia seeds into the pot; mix well.
  3. Reduce to medium-low heat and stir for four to five minutes, or until the mixture thickens.
  4. Remove from heat and add in the spices, maple syrup to taste, sea salt, and vanilla.
  5. Top with cranberry sauce and other toppings of choice.
  6. Serve immediately!

Sweet Potato Smoothie

All those extra sweet potatoes can be easily blended into a nutrient-dense creamy creation. The dreamy combination of healing turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon with cooked sweet potatoes feels like a comforting and cozy hug from the inside out.

*Serves 1

Ingredients:

6 ounces unsweetened almond milk (adjust liquid to desired thickness)
½ cup cooked sweet potato, peel removed
1 small banana, sliced and frozen
½ cup cooked cauliflower, cold or frozen (it’s tasteless!)
1 tablespoon almond butter (cashew butter or sunflower butter work, too)
½-1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger root
¼ teaspoon cinnamon, to taste
½-1 teaspoon grated fresh turmeric (optional)
Drop of vanilla
Pinch of sea salt

Note: For additional protein, add a scoop of vanilla plant-based powder and omit the drop of vanilla.

Directions:

  1. Place the nut milk and sweet potato in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Slowly add the remaining ingredients and adjust liquid according to desired thickness. For a bowl, start with less liquid.
  3. Add additional nut milk for a smoothie in a glass.
  4. Sprinkle with toppings of choice, such as hemp seeds, granola, goji berries, pecans, and/or dried cranberries.
  5. Dig in!

Thanksgiving Bowl

Be willing to get a little creative with this concept—this recipe is a no-frills way to enjoy everything you consumed on the holiday without too much fuss. “When it’s time to eat lunch or dinner, pull out some big bowls and let everyone mix and match their ingredients. The possibilities are endless, and no two bowls are alike,” shares Museles. Everybody can continue to enjoy the meaning of the holiday without sticking to a recipe.

Ingredients:

Base of leafy greens (spinach, kale, shredded Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard, mustard greens, arugula, bok choy, and/or pea shoots)

Raw, roasted, steamed, or grilled vegetables (carrots, peppers, beets, roasted eggplant, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, mushrooms, zucchini, shredded cabbage, onion, and/or jicama)

Grain or starch (quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and even stuffing)

Healthy fats (seeds, nuts, avocado, and/or a drizzle of pumpkin or olive oil)

Dressing or sauce (gravy, cranberry sauce, or a drizzle of olive oil)

Note: To make sure that you build a bowl that’s balanced in flavor, texture, and nutrition, choose at least one ingredient from each category. If you can, try to go heavier on the vegetables.

Directions:

  1. Start with a base of leafy greens.
  2. Add unlimited raw, roasted, steamed, or grilled vegetables.
  3. Toss in your choice of grain or starch.
  4. Add your healthy fats.
  5. Top it off with your choice of dressing or sauce.
  6. Add all ingredients to a pan and heat!
  7. Serve immediately.

Note: Make sure to include a protein like turkey or an alternative protein such as beans for a vegetarian option.

Winter Squash Risotto

The health benefits of bone broth are innumerable, shares Chef Marco Canora the founder of Brodo. “It’s one of the best things [that] you can consume to maintain a healthy gut. The gelatin in Brodo aids in digestion, making it easier to break down food and absorb nutrients,” explains Marco. Adding broth to your recipes the day after is also an efficient way to reap the health benefits of your meal, like in this simple risotto recipe.

*Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups Arborio or other short-grained rice
1 cup dry white wine
6-8 cups Hearth Broth
1 pound of squash, peeled and cut into a ¼-inch dice (seeds removed)
2 tablespoons finely chopped sage
Sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions:

  1. In one large high-sided skillet or rondeau, heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, add the squash and roast slowly, stirring every few minutes until softened and just slightly beginning to brown (approximately 15-20 minutes). Remove the squash from the pan and set aside.
  2. Using the same pan, add two tablespoons of butter and one tablespoon of oil to pan, add the onion and season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften (about five minutes).
  3. Raise the heat to high and add the rice. Using a wooden spoon, stir the rice with the onion and fat until the rice no longer looks chalky and the grains begin to pop, two to three minutes. Add the wine. Allow it to bubble vigorously until the rice absorbs it, about one minute.
  4. Add enough broth to just cover the rice, about two cups. Simmer, while stirring and scraping rice away from the sides occasionally. Cook the rice until it is almost dry, about five minutes, then again add enough broth to cover. Simmer, scraping and stirring every so often, until the broth is incorporated, about five minutes more.
  5. Lower the heat, add the cooked squash back to the pan, add the sage and season with salt and pepper, and about ¼-cup of broth. Simmer, stirring constantly and adding broth in ¼-cup increments until the rice is tender.
  6. Take the pan off the heat and fold in the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and the remaining three tablespoons of butter.
  7. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and serve.

Cauliflower Sformato

What is sformato? “A sformato is a soufflé-like custard that is baked and then unmolded before serving (sformare means to unmold),” explains Canora. You can flavor sformato with virtually any vegetable (Canora suggests a simple spinach puree). This cauliflower sformato makes a great side dish for a post-Thanksgiving dinner.

Ingredients:

For the baking dish: 
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup bread crumbs

For the béchamel:
3-½ tablespoons unsalted butter
2-½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

For the cauliflower:
1 medium head cauliflower

For the custard:
2 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

The Sformato:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Generously butter an 11 by 9-inch baking dish. Coat the dish with bread crumbs.
  3. Spoon the cauliflower mixture into the prepared dish. Lightly bang the dish on the counter to distribute the filing evenly.
  4. Bake the sformato until it sets and browns a little, about 40 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for five minutes.
  6. Unmold and serve.

To make the béchamel:

  1. Melt the butter in a high-sided, heavy-bottomed saucepan.
  2. Whisk in the flour and then the milk.  Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. (Watch the pan, because the milk has the tendency to boil over.)
  3. When the sauce reaches a boil, stir and adjust the heat so it is actively simmering.
  4. Cook, stirring frequently, first with a whisk and then with a wooden spoon, until the sauce thickens (about 15 minutes).
  5. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg; keep warm over very low heat.

To make the cauliflower:

  1. While the béchamel cooks, put the whole cauliflower in a large pot.
  2. Add about one inch of water. Cover the pot and steam over high heat until cauliflower is soft, about 20 minutes.
  3. Take the cauliflower out of the pot and allow it to cool; cut it into quarters.
  4. Squeeze each quarter of the cauliflower in a clean dish towel to get rid of as much moisture as possible.
  5. Put the squeezed cauliflower in a food processor and pulse. Make the puree as smooth or coarse as you like (I tend to prefer some texture, but it’s a matter of personal taste).

To make the custard:

  1. Beat the eggs in a large bowl.
  2. Stir in the cauliflower puree and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  3. Strain the béchamel through a fine sieve and add it to the cauliflower; mix well.
  4. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.

Note: Once you get the cauliflower custard into the baking dish, get it right into the preheated oven. If you let the sformato sit, the breadcrumbs will start to absorb liquid from the filling, increasing the chances that the sformato will stick.

Just like that, your Thanksgiving feast has a second (or third or fourth) life!

Nutrition Recipes

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