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holiday leftovers

5 Ways to Use Up Holiday Leftovers

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If you’re hosting for the holidays this year, begging your friends and family to take home leftovers probably isn’t enough. Here’s how to deal with all that extra food while sticking to your medical weight loss plan.

If you’re hosting for the holidays this year, begging your family and friends to take home leftovers probably isn’t enough to clean out your fridge. You may be a bit scared of all that food staring you in the face, particularly since you want to stick to your medical weight loss plan. Don’t worry: Help is on the way. We’re guessing you’re probably pretty adept at making ham or turkey soup, but may need some new ideas to keep the flavor up and calories down with your leftovers. So we’re focusing on some easy, healthy, and delicious ways you can bid bye-bye to your turkey, ham, or prime rib, along with all the trimmings and appetizers cluttering up your fridge. We’re focusing on general guidelines rather than specific recipes, because everyone’s leftover mix is different, and experimenting in the kitchen is half the fun! Just remember to steer clear of added fats like butter, cream, or large amounts of cheese, and focus on bringing out the food’s flavor with fresh herbs and spices instead.

  1. Turkey and Stuffing Quiche: This is a simple and creative way to use up both leftover turkey and stuffing (and veggies if you have them)! It’s great for the day after your holiday bash when you still have loads of leftovers and want something a bit lighter. Simply press leftover stuffing into a 9-inch pie plate (enough to cover) and bake at 400 degrees F for 9 to 11 minutes or until crisp. Then add some diced turkey breast and a little shredded cheese, and broccoli or mushrooms if you have them. Finally, whisk egg substitute with evaporated nonfat milk in a 2:1 ratio and pour the mixture over the top until it fills the crust. Bake at 350 degrees F for around 30 minutes or until set.
  2. Carrot-Mashed Potato Soup: Soups are a great way to use up all variety of leftover root vegetables, a staple at holiday dinners. All you need are the veggies, some chicken stock, fresh herbs like rosemary or dill, and spices like nutmeg, curry, or ginger. Pulse cooked carrots and mashed potatoes together until smooth, add some chicken stock to desired consistency and simmer with fresh herbs and spices of your choice. This is also a good idea for using up yams or sweet potatoes, or fresh or canned pumpkin—the mix is up to you! 
  3. Veggie Quesadillas or Wraps: Most families have a platter of fresh veggies (think mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, and the like) as an appetizer at the holidays. Unfortunately, the veggies may tend to spoil quickly if not used up. Having a pack of tortillas on hand is a simple way to prevent this. Simply sauté a mix of fresh veggies until soft, throw in a couple slices of lean ham, turkey, or beef, and roll up into a wrap. Drizzle a teaspoon of light ranch dressing on top for a little extra flavor. If you’re in the mood for a quesadilla, simply spread sautéed veggies and a little chopped ham or prime rib on a tortilla, sprinkle some fat-free cheese on top, and cover with another tortilla. Grill in a nonstick pan on medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes each side.  
  4. Brie and Cranberry Sandwich on French Bread: The ultimate combination of easy, delicious, and leftover-friendly. If your family serves brie and French bread for appetizers, simply grill the bread and a small amount of cheese lightly in a nonstick pan, and pair with some cranberry sauce. If you celebrate with ham, you can substitute a lean slice for the cranberry and add a fresh spinach or arugula salad on the side.  
  5. Mediterranean Omelette:  Don’t skip breakfast the morning after your big celebration. Instead, keep it light and healthy with a simple omelette that makes the most of your leftover hummus dip or olive platter. Pour egg substitute mixed with a little skim milk to cover the bottom of a nonstick pan. When lightly set, add a dollop of hummus or a few chopped olives and a tablespoon of goat cheese. Fresh herbs can be great here, too, if you have them. Once omelette is set, simply fold over and enjoy!

Next Steps:

Get 5 tips to psych yourself up for exercise.
See how getting enough sleep can help with weight loss.
Find a center near you to schedule a consultation with a CMWL physician.


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