Cooking Adventures With Leftover Turkey and Healthy Holiday Food Swaps

I kicked off the week after Thanksgiving in typical fashion, at least for me, by boiling the turkey carcass for broth and planning out a week’s worth of recipes that utilize the leftover meat.

Turkey broth is easy to make in the crockpot. Just set it and forget it. I find the richest tasting broth happens after cooking for around 24 hours.

Believe it or not, there was a time in my life when I had to plan out not a week’s worth of leftover turkey recipes, but literally months worth. Back almost a decade ago when my husband worked in retail, his employer gave their workers turkeys for the holidays.

Not only did we get one, we often got two or three, (because some people didn’t want theirs, so my husband gleefully accepted those abandoned turkeys). Needless to say, cooking one to three turkeys for two people resulted in an absurd amount of leftover meat. And, also, I got really good at coming up with recipes to use up those leftovers.

I’ll have a chance to relive those days in the coming months since we found an 18-pound turkey on sale at Costco on Black Friday for $10 off (it ended up being a little over eight bucks). Is it sad that I only went shopping at Costco on Black Friday…and that I’m bragging about getting turkey for a song?

Turkey potpie filling minus the best part (gravy!)

But, this week I’m tapping into some of those old recipes and whipping up a turkey pot pie, turkey and spinach enchiladas, and a turkey casserole. There are plenty other turkey recipes you can find online, but those are a few tried and true favorites at my house.

Turkey potpie is yummy, comforting, and filling.

Before Thanksgiving I shared a few healthy holiday food swaps in an Instagram Reel. My husband and I have really gotten into health and fitness over the past several years. Right now we’re taking part in the 75 Hard program, and we can’t eat cheat meals or refined sugar.

I knew I wanted to set us up for success with the Thanksgiving holiday by giving us a healthier option for some of our holiday favorites. I traded mashed potatoes for whipped cauliflower, swapped out the fried onions in green bean casserole for sliced almonds, and made a pumpkin pie from scratch sweetened with honey and a date, pecan, and honey pie crust.

We had no trouble getting other people to help us eat this healthier version of a holiday staple.

We didn’t miss any of the “traditional” less healthy ingredients in these classic Thanksgiving dishes. And the pie was fantastic! Even family members who are currently eating refined sugar liked it, so I’m calling that a BIG hit.

Although Thanksgiving is over, I’m willing to bet there’s still plenty of leftovers to be eaten (at least at my house!). The holiday season is underway and as Christmas approaches I plan on finding more healthy alternatives to classic not-so-good-for-you recipes (I’m looking at YOU, Christmas cookies). If there’s enough interest, I’ll share those Christmas recipes here, so leave me a comment if you want to get the skinny on the healthy goodies!