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Healthy ways to use holiday leftovers

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POSTED: December 1, 2013 8:30 p.m.
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Think Thanksgiving leftovers are only good for turkey sandwiches? Think again! Mashed potatoes, steamed veggies and even cranberry sauce can be put to good use in other recipes after the holiday.

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In my household, Thanksgiving is the only time of year where dinner leftovers are not only eaten — they are treasured. For the most part, I think people enjoy the conquest of dividing up and conquering what is left of the Thanksgiving bird just as much as they do eating it the first time around.
The Thanksgiving meal isn’t always the healthiest meal. It is one of a few times each year when we allow ourselves to go all out, cooking those time-honored family recipes and eating to our heart’s content.
If you have a ton of leftovers this year, you are probably not alone. Making healthy meals that incorporate turkey day remnants is easy, and it can be fun.
Doing a simple Google search will turn up a wealth of recipes that you can make with your leftovers, but be sure to include “healthy” as a key word.
Here are a few suggested recipes I like to make to use up those leftovers.
Cooked turkey really only lasts about a week in the refrigerator, so if you have a substantial amount left, consider picking out only what you plan to use for the next couple of days and then freeze the rest. Be sure to save those bones. They are perfect for making healthy broth, soups or stews. If you don’t want to hassle with soup this weekend, the bones can be frozen and used anytime. Much like chicken broth, the minerals and gelatin that leach from the bones are healthy and easily absorbed by our bodies.
Any leftover vegetables — such as green beans, corn, carrots and lima beans — are great for cooking up a quick beef and vegetable soup. All you need is a pound of all-natural or lean ground beef, a medium chopped onion, two cloves of minced garlic, two chopped celery ribs, a can of crushed tomatoes, four cups of low-sodium beef broth and your vegetables.
In a stock pot, add a little olive oil and brown your onion, garlic and celery and then add the beef. When the meat is cooked through, drain any fat and add the remaining ingredients to the pot. Bring to a boil and allow the mixture to simmer for 30-45 minutes to allow the flavors to come together. Make a vegetarian version of this dish by omitting the beef, using vegetable broth and adding extra vegetables.
Cranberries are packed with antioxidants, which help flush toxins from the body. However, not a lot of people know what to do with leftover cranberry sauce. Try making a batch of cranberry fruit leather. Heat the cranberry sauce until it’s smooth. You can add spices such as nutmeg or cinnamon if you want, but that’s optional.  Prepare a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat and spread the sauce in a thin layer on the prepared sheet, no thicker than about an eighth of an inch.
Preheat the oven to 140 degrees or as low as it will go (mine only goes to 200 degrees). Place the sheet in the oven and let the cranberry sauce dry for eight to 10 hours. The leather is ready when it is no longer sticky and has a smooth surface. After the fruit leather is cool, cut it into individual servings and store in an airtight container. These are great for kids’ snacks after school or in lunches.

 

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