A healthier way to use those Thanksgiving leftovers

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Later today when dinner’s done and you’re left with a lot of bird, don’t panic: Turkey is a lean, versatile protein that fits easily into healthy, hearty meals that are low in fat and high in flavor.

Here are a few tips for livening up your Thanksgiving-leftover repertoire — without repeating the meal or breaking the scale.

First, attack the carcass (after your guests leave, that is). Once you’ve removed all the large slices of meat, be prepared to spend some time picking off every last bit from the bones. Chop or shred it as you go, partitioning into bags or containers in the refrigerator (or freezer) for easy access later.

Source: Kthread, Flickr

Source: Kthread, Flickr

Next, take stock of other leftovers, and get creative by utilizing them in a variety of wraps, salads and “dump” dishes (one-pot meals) for the first few days following the big event. When you’ve had your fill and cleared out the majority of the trimmings, turn to some creative dishes that can breathe new life into the last of the meat.

Try a quick soup, for example, by mixing a few cups of diced turkey with chicken broth, noodles and your favorite vegetables. Sprinkle chopped turkey on salads for a healthy lunch that packs a protein punch. Use shredded turkey in quesadillas, burritos, enchiladas, fajitas and tacos to spice up a weeknight dinner. Or add turkey bits to pot pies, casseroles and pasta dishes for a fresh twist on classic comfort foods.

Need more ideas? EatTurkey.com has a list of the “Top 10 Ways to Use Leftover Turkey,” including dishes such as Thai Grilled Pizza, Creamy Creole Turkey Bake and the ever-popular Turkey, Mandarin and Poppy Seed Salad.

Source: Fitday

Source: Fitday

Last but not least, save the bones. If you’re not going to make use of them within a week or so, wrap and store the carcass in your freezer for up to six months. Next time you get a turkey hankering, plop it in a big pot of water with a mix of vegetables and herbs, and in no time at all you’ll have a simple stock for soups, stews and gravies (try this recipe from Martha Stewart).

Now, that’s a gift that keeps on giving all season.

What are your favorite ways to make the most of Thanksgiving leftovers?

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