Tackling Leftovers

Five ways to reinvent Thanksgiving in the fridge

Frankly, I love Thanksgiving leftovers. The flavors have melded together, especially in my late mother’s cornbread dressing with sage. Haven’t found anyone’s better — Have you found better recipes than your mother’s or grandmother’s? That’s why we always seem to consume the familiar at Thanksgiving and Christmas, all holidays for that matter.

There’s no telling what type of marketing materials will come through the email at a newspaper office. Luckily for all of us, one from The Daily Iberian’s healthcare provider hit right on the mark for our day-before-Thanksgiving food feature. Today’s recipes are from the links sent by BlueCross BlueShield of Arizona — suggestions for managing leftovers.

When the Feast is Over

After Thanksgiving is over and the fridge is full of leftovers — What to do?

You could resort to that classic, the turkey-cran-stuffing-mash sandwich. Or you could switch it up with a few fresh ingredients to please the palate and pack a healthy punch. These recipes are a great place to start.

Many of us will make turkey and sausage gumbo. As a kid one of my favorites, either with turkey or the ham of Thanksgiving, mom would use an old fashion hand crank meat grinder that was held onto the table top with a screw vice. She’d make the mash then add mayonnaise, celery, chopped homemade sweet pickles and great sandwich salad — or lettuce topper.

But check out the new ideas from the American Institute for Cancer Research. Why didn’t I think of fajitas or meatloaf?

Turkey fajitas with baby spinach and red peppers, spices and salsa verde take turkey up a notch. Toss in some colorful veggies, and these turkey fajitas will have you saying “Ole!” the website said. Meatloaf becomes a lighter version of everyone’s favorite comfort food with turkey as the foundation.

Just a few extra ingredients turn leftover sweet potatoes into a flavor-packed, oh-so-good and good for you mash. Winter bread salad — a bonus recipe can be found online at Iberianet.com — Bring the fresh to your leftovers. Toss up this colorful salad, and use leftover bread for your croutons.

Benefits of the Seasonal Bird

Turkey is low in fat and high in protein, making it an important source of nutrition. One piece of turkey breast without the skin measures up at 160 calories, four grams of fat and a whopping 30 grams of protein, according to the USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory. Dark meat and turkey legs are higher in calories but boast similar amounts of protein.

The average portion of turkey is 100 grams, or 3.5 ounces of meat. This is about the size and thickness of a deck of cards. A single serving of turkey can provide around 65 percent of the recommended daily intake of protein.

But turkey is more than just a lowfat source of protein. The meat is rich in niacin (B3), which may help increase HDL cholesterol, widely known as the “good” form of cholesterol. Niacin, in addition to helping balance cholesterol levels, can lower a person’s risk for cardiovascular disease by reducing atherosclerosis, which is a hardening of the arteries. The resource Healthline also says niacin may help reduce inflammation and symptoms of arthritis.

Turkey also is rich in vitamins B6 and B12. B6 helps keep red blood cells healthy and reduce fatigue, while B12 can decrease levels of homocysteine that can contribute to cognitive decline. Turkey is also a good source of selenium, which helps to keep hair and nails healthy while serving as an immune system booster that protects against damage to cells and tissues. Around 20 percent of the recommended daily amount of selenium can be obtained from a single serving of turkey.

Turkey is lower in calories and fat and higher in protein than chicken. Those who routinely consume chicken as part of a healthy diet can substitute it for turkey for even greater nutritional benefits. Turkey is particularly low in saturated fat, which may contribute to increased levels of the LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol.

Turkey also is versatile, as it can be baked, boiled, stir-fried, grilled, ground, chopped for salads, and sliced for sandwiches. Turkey can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Home chefs often find they can substitute turkey for any meat in a recipe with good results because turkey’s mild taste takes on the flavor of other ingredients.

Turkey is much more than a Thanksgiving staple. It can be enjoyed in various ways throughout the year.

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