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11 Genius Ways to Use up Holiday Leftovers That Are Actually Healthy

The big dinner is over but the leftovers are still with you: Check out these creative ways to repurpose those holiday leftovers in ways that will make them feel brand new—and are actually pretty healthy!

Butternut Squash BiscottiCourtesy Christy Brissette

Leftover squash? Butternut Squash Biscotti

Looking for a creative way to use up leftover squash? My Butternut Squash Biscotti with Dates and Walnuts are delicious vegan and gluten-free cookies that pair perfectly with your coffee or a cup of chai tea. Thanks to the addition of winter squash, these crunchy cookies are packed with beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant. The squash and the dates add some natural sweetness so you can use less added sugar in your biscotti. Plus, the almond flour boosts the protein content while the quinoa flour adds more fiber and a bit of protein.

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wafflesCourtesy Chef Julie Andrews

Leftover stuffing? Make Leftover Stuffing Waffles

Turning them into savory waffles is absolutly genius: These crispy-on-the-outside, soft-and-fluffy-on-the-inside Leftover Stuffing Waffles from registered dietitian Julie Kay Andrews are even more delicious when topped with a fried egg. Making savory waffles means there’s no need to top them with syrup or powdered sugar. Use these waffles as a slice of bread in an open-faced breakfast sandwich and you’ll have a new post-holiday brunch tradition! Find out the most popular Thanksgiving dish in every state.

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potato gnocchiCourtesy Kara Golis

Leftover mashed potatoes? Make Ricotta Mashed Potato Gnocchi

Are you a fan of reheated mashed potatoes? Not too many people are, including registered dietitian Kara Golis. Their texture and consistency just aren’t the same the next day, which is why she created this game-changing recipe: Ricotta Mashed Potato Gnocchi.

The tender, pillowy mashed potato gnocchi soaks up the flavors of sauce for the perfect comfort food meal. Include spinach, mushrooms, and other vegetables in your sauce to get more vegetables into your meal, especially after the sweets and treats of the holidays.

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cranberry oatmeal barsCourtesy Starr Wong

Leftover cranberry sauce? Make Cranberry Sauce Oatmeal Bars

These Cranberry Sauce Oatmeal Bars from Starr Wong are made with whole grains for extra fiber and thanks to the oats, are rich in soluble fiber that can help lower LDL cholesterol levels. You’ll love the delicious flavor from both the ground and crystallized ginger, the perfect compliment to the cranberry sauce.

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enchilada breakfast bakeCourtesy Kelli Shallal

Leftover turkey? Make Low-Carb Turkey Enchilada Casserole

Looking for a new way to use up leftover turkey beyond sandwiches and soup? This Low-Carb Turkey Enchilada Casserole from registered dietitian Kelli Shallal is a tasty way to use leftover turkey that feels brand new. If you’re wanting to lighten up your meals after the holidays, dialing up on vegetables and down on the carbs for a meal or two can be just what you’re craving. This lower carb casserole uses zucchini instead of tortillas for a delicious and healthy Mexican feast! Follow this ultimate Thanksgiving menu for the easiest holiday ever.

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heirloom carrot soupCourtesy Christy Brissette

Leftover roasted carrots? Make Roasted Carrot Soup with Peanuts and Basil

Roasted carrots can be a tough one to get people to eat after the holidays. Problem solved when you transform them into a flavorful comforting soup! My Heirloom Carrot Soup with Peanuts and Basil is both refreshing and cozy—plus, it’s vegan and gluten-free. This rich soup gets its creaminess from the pureed carrots and peanut butter, a hint of natural sweetness from the carrots and basil and a touch of heat from red chili flakes and ginger. It’s the perfect winter warmer!

This delicious roasted carrot soup is rich in beta carotene and fiber from carrots and creamy healthy protein and fats from peanut butter, plus the perfect freshness from the basil. Add extra chili flakes if you like it spicy.

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veggie pot pieCourtesy Sharon Palmer

Leftover mashed potatoes? Make Vegetable Pot Pie

Looking for an easy vegan comfort food? These individual Vegetable Pot Pies from registered dietitian Sharon Palmer are easy to make and packed with the goodness of vegetables. Add any produce you have on hand, such as zucchini, corn, carrots, peppers, and onions—and throw in some tempeh for plant-based protein. These savory mini pots of stew are topped with whipped potatoes and browned in the oven. Using leftover mashed potatoes helps you cut down on prep time so all you need to do is assemble, bake, and eat. Don’t miss how to recover from a Thanksgiving eating binge.

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orange risottoCourtesy Chef Catherine Brown

Leftover cranberry sauce? Make Orange Risotto with Cranberry Sauce

Need to use up some leftover cranberry sauce? Try making this Orange Risotto with New England Cranberry Sauce from chef Catherine Brown. It’s like a rice pudding or dessert risotto with sweet notes. This recipe is easy to make—all you have to do is stir a bit. The orange adds the perfect balance to the cranberries as well as an added boost of vitamin C to help you get through cold and flu season. Check out these 9 reasons to eat more cranberries this holiday season.

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mini Butternut Squash pizzasCourtesy Christy Brissette

Leftover squash? Make Butternut Squash Mini Pizzas

Did you roast some whole squash and are left wondering what to do with the leftovers? Slice that squash into rounds and you can make my Butternut Squash Mini Pizzas for a fun family pizza night that’s packed with antioxidants.

Just lay out the squash rounds and provide a variety of toppings so everyone can decorate their own pizzas. I love using diced tomatoes, green bell peppers, mushrooms, light mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil.

If you need even more reasons to love your squash, it’s rich in potassium which can help lower blood pressure. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits of squash promote bone and eye health and also protect your blood vessels.

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cosmo aioliCourtesy

Leftover cranberry sauce? Make Cosmo Cranberry Aioli

Elevate your condiments by adding cranberry sauce to an easy and delicious aioli. This Cosmo Cranberry Aioli from Terri Gilson tastes like the popular cocktail thanks to the addition of fresh orange and leftover cranberry sauce. This tasty aioli adds amazing flavor to your leftover turkey sandwiches and is incredible on burgers. Try it as a marinade on chicken or fish to keep a hint of holiday flavors coming. Find healthier versions of your favorite condiments for delicious and nutritious meals all year long.

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no bake pumpkin pieCourtesy Gabrielle Gottschalk

Leftover pumpkin? Make No Bake Pumpkin Pie with Caramel Sauce

Whether it’s canned pumpkin you didn’t use up, sweet potatoes, or even squash, you can use them in this No Bake Pumpkin Pie with Caramel Sauce from Gabrielle Gottschalk.

Not only is this pie easy-as-pie to make, it’s vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free, but the whole thing requires only eight ingredients (not including the toppings) and is ready in about 20 minutes!

Pumpkin is an excellent source of beta-carotene—a nutrient that’s excellent for your vision and which may help prevent some cancers. Pumpkin is also rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps stimulate the immune system. Next, find out the best and worst Thanksgiving foods for your weight.

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Christy Brissette, MS, RD
Christy Brissette, MS, RD is one of North America's top dietitians and a leading nutrition and food communications expert. She is the President of 80 Twenty Nutrition, a nutrition and food media company. Her mission is to end food confusion and dieting once and for all. Christy appears on national TV and is interviewed for international magazines, radio and websites. She empowers her clients to look and feel their best with the healing power of healthy, delicious food. She helps clients achieve results through cutting-edge, creative and fun meal plans and recipes. You can still enjoy your favourite foods and have the body of your dreams!

Christy is a spokesperson, nutrition and food writer and blogger for Huffington Post and others, a recipe developer and YouTube video producer. She is regularly interviewed by CTV National News, CBC, The Globe and Mail and many more on nutrition and health. She has her finger on the pulse of the latest nutrition and food science and trends, and synthesizes and prioritizes it just for you.