Healthy Hacks for Holiday Leftovers


Stuck with loads of holiday leftovers? Bored of the same meals, textures, and flavors? Try using some of these ideas for a fun, new twist on holiday leftovers.

Make Some Savory Oatmeal

Prepare your plain oatmeal according to package instructions and top it off with a spoonful of cranberry sauce, a handful of slivered almonds, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. This gives plain old oatmeal a savory flavor while providing extra antioxidants and healthy fats. 

Bake a Frittata

Eggs are rich in protein that will fill us up and keep up fuller, longer. Mix together leftover veggies and meat, combine with eggs, and stick it all in the oven. A great choice for a quick, easy way to start the day. 

Try a Salad

Start with a bed of lettuce, spinach, or kale, add quinoa and top with leftover meat and veggies. Finish your salad with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The greens will provide a healthy dose of fiber, while the quinoa and meat add protein to the meal. Extra veggies and healthy fats from the dressing round out this tasty option. 

Go for a Grain Bowl

If lettuce isn’t your thing, start with a base of brown rice, barley, farro, or quinoa for a healthy dose of whole grains. Top it off with leftover meat, veggies, sweet potatoes, and gravy for an instant hit. 

Stuff Some Mushrooms

Take a large portobello mushroom and pile it up with leftover meat, potatoes and veggies. Top it off with a sprinkle of cheese and bake it at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes. Mushrooms will provide a healthy dose of vitamin D, especially important during these long winter months!

Stuff Some Peppers

Simply shred leftover turkey or ham, add veggies and brown rice or quinoa. Flavor the mixture with whichever seasonings you prefer and add a sauce for moisture. Cut the tops and stems off of sweet bell peppers and fill with the mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for about 60 minutes and enjoy!

Make a Soup

Start with a low-sodium broth, white beans, spinach and seasonings. Shred leftover meat and add it to the pot with some defrosted frozen veggies. Homemade soup is an easy, warm winter favorite that can be topped with extras such as crackers, cheese, avocado and more!

Warm Up With a Chili

Another quick, delicious option is to take leftover turkey, add a pumpkin puree, and create a pumpkin turkey chili. Add beans, diced tomatoes, onion, broth, and season with your favorite chili spices. Top with cheese, avocado, sour cream or crackers!

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Sarah Brunner Registered Dietician at Elite Sports Clubs

Written by Sarah Brunner, RDN, CD; Elite Sports Clubs Registered Dietitian

Sarah is certified in food allergies/intolerances and nutritional counseling, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; has a certificate in Dietetics from Mount Mary University; and a BA in Education and Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.