If you are anything like my family, you look forward to the Thanksgiving leftovers almost as much as the holiday itself! And when you put that much time and effort into a single meal, why not? But this can be a slippery slope for those of us wanting to lose weight. With that much delicious food calling to us every time we open our refrigerator, it’s just too easy to replicate a Thanksgiving feast for every meal. With the average American consuming roughly 3000 calories on our national day of thanks, this is not a healthy practice to continue all weekend.

Luckily, some of those Thanksgiving staples can fit perfectly into a healthy meal plan. A 3-ounce serving of roast turkey (about the size of a deck of playing cards) will provide 21 grams of high quality protein in less than 150 calories. The possibilities are endless when it comes to creative and delicious ways to use these protein-packed leftovers. Keep it simple, and toss some on a green salad, or chop it up and make a low fat turkey salad with a little fat free sour cream and spices. Or, mix some up with a little brown rice, high fiber black beans, and fire roasted tomatoes (or salsa) for a zesty meal with a kick. For a comforting treat, make yourself a satisfying turkey soup with plenty of vegetables. Keep in mind, you don’t need to find uses for all your leftovers at once. Stash some turkey in in your freezer, and make creating more healthy meals in the future easy and delicious.

You may have noticed that we didn’t have any good suggestions for that leftover pie. While indulging on a special occasion won’t do too much damage, it doesn’t fit into a daily meal plan for those watching their waistlines. Perhaps send those leftovers home with guests, or find a place in your community that will accept leftover donations for needy populations (some restaurants do this regularly!). And have a healthy, happy holiday season from Virtual Health Partners!