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Kevin Curry

Healthy Holiday Leftover Recipes

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‘Tis the season for joy, gratitude, and of course, epic holiday feasts that leave us with enough leftovers to feed a small village.

Now, my friends, let’s be real for a moment…

The holidays are that magical time when calories don’t count, and that extra serving of grandma’s famous pecan pie is practically mandatory. And hey, I’m right there with you—there’s absolutely nothing wrong with savoring those moments of culinary bliss and taking a well-deserved break from the rigid grip of diets.

But here’s the catch…

As the holiday confetti settles, reality kicks in. The leftover mashed potatoes are giving you that tempting wink from the fridge, the stuffing is whispering sweet nothings, and the dessert spread is practically begging for an encore.

Suddenly, getting back on the healthy eating wagon seems like a Herculean task. 

Don’t fret; we’ve all been there.

Today, I’m bringing you a playbook for turning that holiday excess into a powerhouse of nutrient-packed meals that will have you feeling energized, satisfied, and ready to conquer your health and fitness goals.

If those mashed potatoes are loaded with all the good stuff – butter, cream, the works – I’m not here to tell you to magically turn them into a superfood, because, well, butter is butter, my friends.

But check it, moderation is the name of the game. 

Instead of diving headfirst into a sea of indulgence just because the leftovers are hanging around, let’s get smart about it. I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve – we’re talking about giving those extras a makeover without sacrificing flavor and maybe even sharing the love (and calories) with others.

So, let’s wave goodbye to the post-holiday food coma and say hello to a renewed commitment to our well-being.

Are you with me?

Tips on How to Use Up Holiday Leftovers

How do we tackle the land of holiday leftovers without sacrificing our health goals? Check out these practical, no-nonsense tips to navigate the leftover maze and keep your health goals on track:

Spread the Love

Hosting a holiday feast? Arm yourself with resealable bags and food storage to send guests home with delightful treats – cookies, candies, or other sweet creations. Some foods simply can’t be repurposed in ways that align with your goals, so make someone else’s day bright with a goodie bag and get that food out of your house.

Stay Active

Counter those holiday indulgences with post-celebration exercise. A brisk walk around the neighborhood to get your blood pumping after the big meal (maybe to spread the love and share those leftovers with the neighbors? 😉) is a fantastic way to burn off some extra holiday calories while reveling in some fresh air.

Embrace Veggie-Forward Combos

Elevate your holiday leftovers by incorporating more vegetables into your meals. Consider blending those buttery mashed potatoes with mashed cauliflower, creating a flavorful side that not only complements the indulgent leftovers but also adds a nutritious twist. Opt for a veggie-packed stir-fry by tossing small amounts of turkey or ham with an abundance of colorful vegetables. This way, you can relish the holiday flavors while savoring the goodness of a veggie-centric dish. Finding creative and balanced pairings will ensure a satisfying and wholesome post-holiday dining experience.

Mix It Up

Blend herbs and roasted root veggies with a dash of leftover low-fat cheese for quesadillas, mini pizzas, or omelets. Pair small portions of turkey, roast beef, or ham with fresh fruits and veggies for sandwiches, salads, wraps, or a light main course. Revitalize your leftovers by tossing veggies and seafood with small portions of extra pasta or brown rice. Sprinkle leftover nuts and dried fruit in your next salad for an added punch of flavor and texture.

Creativity turns leftovers into culinary masterpieces. It’s all about balance – take small portions of high-caloric leftovers and creatively pair them with protein, veg, and broths for a healthier combo.

Lock in the Goodness

Food waste is just sad. Seal the deal with airtight containers for your leftovers. It maintains that fresh flavor longer, ensuring your holiday dishes remain delectable for extended enjoyment. Think of the holidays as one big meal prep as you repurpose the food into other amazing dishes. 😂

Chill Out in the Freezer

The freezer is your ally. Soups, cooked veggies, bread, pastries, and cookies all freeze magnificently. So if you can’t eat all of the food within a week, pop some of it straight into the freezer. Defrost whenever that holiday craving kicks in for a quick and delightful fix. This way you can enjoy some of those indulgences at a more moderate pace.

Safety First

Trust your instincts. While most leftovers stay fresh for about a week, if something looks or smells off, it’s wiser to bid it farewell. Do your best to work through the leftovers to avoid food waste, but when in doubt, toss it out.

__________________

Don’t let those holiday leftovers go to waste – maximize them with these smart tips and the tasty recipes below. 

Remember, it’s not about what’s left in the fridge; it’s about the possibilities waiting to be unleashed. Your leftovers are the canvas, and you are the artist.

So, channel your inner culinary genius and discover new ways to transform those remnants into nutritious, mouthwatering meals.

10 Healthy Recipes for Holiday Leftovers

Now that we’ve got our leftover game plan down, let’s dive into the fun part—creating mouthwatering, healthy delights from the remnants of our festive feasts.

I’ve curated a collection of recipes that not only explode with flavor but also line up effortlessly with your wellness goals.

A quick tip: Embrace the improvisation dance! Leftovers might throw a curveball into your recipe, but fear not. Take these recipes or your go-to healthy dishes, and swap in the meat, veg, or carb you’ve got in your fridge. It’s all about making it work for you! The recipe says “chicken”? Well, turkey can surely step in. Baked sweet potato on the list? Why not give your leftover sweet potato mash a chance to shine? Let the kitchen improv begin!

Let’s get cooking and turn those leftovers into a culinary encore that your taste buds and body will thank you for.

 

Here are the top 10 recipes I found online that you may enjoy preparing!

turkey shepherd's pie

Transform your holiday remnants into a revamped Healthy Shepherd’s Pie. Swap in leftover potatoes, turkey, and veggies for this recipe’s lean ground beef or assorted vegetables. With a touch of olive oil replacing butter, this savory dish gets an upgrade while making the most of your post-holiday surplus. Also tastes delicious with leftover cheese mashed potatoes.

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leftover holiday ham recipes

Elevate your turkey game with this saucy curry masterpiece! It complements perfectly with cauliflower rice, shirataki noodles, hearts of palm, or even spinach – sautéed, steamed, or fresh leaves. This hot curry gives each option a delectable spin! 

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healthy holiday leftover recipes

Chunk up that extra ham in this southern-inspired, hearty side dish. Elevate your post-holiday feast with the comforting flavors of cabbage and potatoes, all simmered to perfection. It’s the ideal way to savor the essence of Louisiana’s Cajun and Creole cuisines while making the most of your holiday leftovers.

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holiday ham leftover recipes

Use your leftover turkey and grains to whip up this comforting bowl of goodness. It’s like a holiday encore in a pot, featuring carrots, onion, celery, garlic, and fresh herbs – all the essentials from your holiday feast. Now, this recipe calls for butter and a hint of half and half for creaminess. But instead, swap out the butter for olive oil during veggie sautéing and just skip the half and half.

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easy holiday leftover recipes

Elevate those holiday leftovers with a twist! Enter Mashed Potato Waffles – rich in flavor and totally paleo-friendly. Starting with mashed potatoes, we’re adding a protein boost with eggs and almond flour. Pair these waffles with a dreamy avocado and basil sauce. Then serve them up with leftover turkey for a delightful spin on the classic chicken and waffles style. Yum.

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healthy recipes for holiday leftovers

Dive into the deliciousness of the sweet potatoes harmonizing with chickpeas and garlic sauce, while the lemony freshness of the parsley-tomato salad seals the deal.

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holiday food leftover recipes

Don’t let that leftover turkey linger in your fridge! Here’s a quick and tasty meal prep for you pasta lovers out there. Ready in just about 30 minutes, this dish is not only delicious but is also packed with protein, fiber, and a stack of essential vitamins and minerals.

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holiday leftover casserole recipe paleo

“Imagine all the savory goodness of traditional enchiladas, minus the extra carbs. This hot and bubbly casserole brings you the same mouthwatering flavor with way less effort than the classic rolling and baking routine. Dive into a low-carb enchilada experience that’s both delicious and convenient!

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holiday turkey leftover recipes

Got some leftover charcuterie board goodies? Dive into a salad experience that brings new life to your charcuterie board treasures, all topped off with the perfect fig dressing. 

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leftover holiday food recipes

This Whole30-friendly chili recipe brings the perfect blend of spice to dance with the sweetness of the potatoes. No beans here, but feel free to toss them in if that’s your jam! Quick, easy, and on your table in under 30 minutes – it’s a post-holiday winner and the best chili recipe for both those turkey and sweet potato leftovers.

See Full Recipe

Remember, leftovers aren’t just about practicality; they’re an opportunity to indulge in flavor, experiment with new combinations, and savor the joy of a well-crafted meal. So, the next time your fridge is filled with holiday remnants, don your apron and embark on a culinary adventure. Who knows, you might just discover a new family favorite or a go-to dish that transcends the holiday season.

Thank you for joining me on this flavorful ride, and here’s to turning leftovers into lasting culinary memories. Happy cooking, FitFam!

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About Kevin - author

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hey, I'm Kevin

My name is Kevin. My life changed when I realized that healthy living is a lifelong journey, mainly won by having a well-balanced diet and maintaining an active lifestyle.

By experimenting in the kitchen and sharing my meals on Tumblr, I learned healthy eating is not boring! By making a few adjustments to my favorite foods, I could design a diet that could help me achieve my wellness goals while satisfying my desire for BANGIN food! 😅 Now I try to help people around the world realize that same level of freedom in eating regardless of budget. Welcome, let's #DemocratizeWellness together!