For many people, leftovers are the whole point of Thanksgiving. Extra-large turkeys are often roasted so there's plenty to eat over the coming weekend as sandwiches, hash, salad, fajitas, or even curry.

Turkey leftovers can be the salvation of busy cooks during the hectic weeks leading up to the December holidays. Roasting a bigger bird than needed on Thanksgiving Day offers the prospect of enough leftovers. To plan for leftovers, calculate one pound of turkey for every three cups of diced meat, or four to six servings.

Nutrition and health experts recommend that a single serving of turkey or any other meat in a healthful meal should be no more than about three ounces - the size of a deck of cards. Turkey is low in fat (especially the breast) and high in protein. It is an inexpensive source of iron, zinc, phosphorus, potassium and B vitamins.

To make leftovers last as long as possible, wrap and refrigerate leftover turkey within two hours of serving it. Save the carcass and, while cleaning up after the feast, simmer it in a large pot of water with a few root vegetables and a bay leaf. Strained and frozen in small containers, this stock will come in handy for many dishes over the next few weeks, including gravy.

Turkey is adaptable to many different cooking styles and ethnic recipes, from an Italian spaghetti sauce to a Mexican enchilada. For an Asian taste, stir-fry small pieces of cooked turkey with broccoli, red bell pepper, mushrooms and a ginger and garlic sauce. Serve the stir-fry with rice or Asian noodles.

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Another way to use leftover turkey is a colorful stew combining the natural sweetness of sweet potato and carrot with the tang of cranberries.

Turkey Stew

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp. canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, cut crosswise in 3/4-inch slices
  • 1 rib celery, cut crosswise in 3/4-inch slices
  • 1 small rutabaga, peeled and cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium sweet potato or yam, peeled and cut in 3/4-inch half-moons
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup non-fat, reduced-sodium chicken or turkey stock, heated
  • 1 Crispin apple, peeled, cored and cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup fresh (and cooked) or frozen (and defrosted) cranberries
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 3 cups diced cooked turkey (about 3/4 lb.)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. In a small Dutch oven or deep pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Saute the onion until it softens, about 4 minutes. Add the carrot, celery, rutabaga and sweet potato. Lower heat to medium-low and, stirring frequently, saute until vegetables become lightly browned. Add the bay leaf and stock. Cover tightly and cook at a gentle simmer until vegetables are almost tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.
  2. Add the apple, cranberries and thyme. Cover and gently simmer until the apple has softened and cranberries are tender, about 5 minutes. Add turkey and heat through completely, about 5 minutes or less. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Serve over cooked pasta or rice, if desired.

Per Serving:
257 calories, 5 g. total fat (1 g. saturated fat),
26 g. carbohydrate,
27 g. protein,
6 g. dietary fiber,
222 mg. sodium

Diabetic Exchanges:
3 Lean Meat; 1 Bread/Starch, 2 Vegetable


AICR