Repurpose holiday leftovers

Repurpose holiday leftovers in 30 minutes

Repurpose holiday leftovers

Tasty turkey freezer meals make a quick supper on a busy weeknight

Repurpose holiday leftovers

Hi! Hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving, the cooking and preparation, the big meal with family. It’s one of my favorite days of the year. What I don’t love is dealing with all the leftovers and unpacking the fridge and cleaning up. ugh. So, as I was procrastinating on the couch Friday I decided to give myself a time limit, just for fun. (I know, that’s a sad kind of fun) My goal, repurpose holiday leftovers in 30 minutes.

Already I knew that I wanted to pack freezer meals. I made a bunch last year for my son and he just loved them! I usually made a soup as well. That will be where I start.

Okay, ready set go!

It was 2:17pm precisely, and I started to unload the tupperware and questionable packs of partially used ingredients from the fridge. First step was to take a survey of what was there. Followed by lining up the leftover dishes and opening them all up. I laid out 4 freezer boxes to make my meals.

Freezer meals a packin’

Start layering the turkey slices as that is the important protein. Next, the mashed potatoes as that is one of TQ’s favorites and he’d be bummed if that wasn’t there. In an effort to make them slightly different I changed up the next few ingredients. A couple of the boxes got GF stuffing and a couple got veggie tots. (TQ said about the tots “these are the bomb Mom! and I can eat them all day!”) Side note: post about the veggie tots coming soon. Every box got some green beans – got have our green veg right!

Repurpose holiday leftovers

Leftover turkey meals ready

Final touches

I purposely layered the turkey in a corner, leaving a little space for the all important cranberry sauce. This is TQ’s most favorite part of Thanksgiving! Every year I ask him what he’d like and this is the first thing out of his mouth. Surprisingly, this heats up really well! I think it’s also a good way to keep the turkey moist when reheating. I do recommend it! Leftover gravy is carefully layered in a little crater I made with a spoon in the potatoes. I also drizzled gravy on the stuffing to keep that moist as well. The final touch is a sprinkling of leftover green herbs for a nice pop of color and freshness. I used green onion tops and parsley. Voila! Finished.

Close up the lids, label and make room in the freezer.

turkey freezer meals

Meals ready for freezer

Because everything was out, I just went ahead and put the turkey in a big stock pot with the extra leftover veggies, herbs, broth and gravy. Turkey soup ready to simmer away. Dinner for later this week? Or perhaps another freezer ready meal.

Mark the time 2:52pm! Woohoo – Just a little over my 30 minute goal but I’m happy with my cleared out reorganized fridge…. Can’t say so much for the dirty dishes… sigh.

Pile O' dishes now waiting

Pile O’ dishes now waiting

Repurpose holiday leftovers

Looks yummy right!

Help! My gluten free diet is making me fat!

Help! my gluten free diet is making me fat!

Help! my gluten free diet is making me fat!


Help! Gluten free diet is making me fat!

Hi! This post really has nothing to do with my kids, time to focus on us! Gaining weight on a gluten-free diet is common, but also manageable if you make the right choices. Some gluten-free substitutes can contain a higher calorie counts than gluten-containing foods. For instance, white rice is gluten-free but one cup of cooked rice contains 204 calories and a mere 0.6 grams of dietary fiber. Of course, many ready-made gluten free products are made with white rice flour.

Another reason for weight gain from a gluten-free diet is that gluten free products are many times higher in calories to make them taste better. As you know, gluten is a sticky, stretchy protein that gives structure to baked goods, breads and pasta. There may be added fats and sugar in GF products to help compensate for the different texture. I think generally, we all can agree that limiting processed foods is healthier, but sometimes the convenience is key. 

Help! my gluten free diet is making me fat!

Sigh, now what can be done?

This goes without saying, but I will emphasize it anyway : make sure your body gets 30 minutes of physical activity everyday. For reference, an individual weighing 150 lbs can burn about 90 calories by walking for 30 minutes. Regular exercise can add up benefits and keep you slimmer and fitter.

Satisfy your hunger with healthy foods

High-fiber foods make you feel fuller for longer on fewer calories. If you’re eating primarily low fiber gluten-free foods, you may be inclined to eat more to feel fuller, resulting in an increase in calories. You will also notice that you are hungry an hour after you ate! Try to eat fruits and veggie snacks to quell your hunger. Also consider adding high-fiber foods such as brown rice, millet, amaranth and quinoa into recipes. As many of you know, I like to add ground flax seed or psyllium powder to baked goods or potatoes to boost the fiber and nutrient density.

Cut down on ‘junk’ gluten-free food and go lean, nutrient dense

Have you been snacking a bit too much on gluten-free crackers, cookies and brownies? Seems every week when I go to the store, there is a new product that is made gluten-free. Sometimes it just so fun to try something new ….. and then maybe get carried away. (not that I have any first hand experience with that HA!) Keep a firm control over the added calories you’re consuming as a result of your snacking habits.

Nutrient dense, protein and fiber filled snacks will keep you motoring through your day:

Apple with nut butter (or sunbutter)

Sugar snap peas with hummus

Greek yogurt with blueberries ( I mix in a Tb of ground flax of chia seeds)

Hard boiled egg

Goat cheese stuffed mini peppers

DIY trail mix

Grilled veggies and pesto

Avocado with whole grain crackers (try Mary’s)

I think I’ll work on a few more recipes to fit this bill.

Stick to a balanced diet

Common wisdom dictates that a varied diet is a healthy diet. It is possible to go gluten-free and still enjoy a diverse diet, regardless of whether you prefer to eat naturally gluten-free foods or specially made non-gluten breads and pastas. There is an extensive range of fruits and veggies to put on your list as well as unprocessed meat products, dairy products, beans, nuts and seeds, and an array of other whole grains. Including a salad with every meal helps you fill up with fiber rich, nutrient dense foods before possibly over-consuming higher calorie foods. Watching the portion sizes can also go a long way in preventing weight gain. Here are my tips in a nutshell:

Fiber! eat more

Eat more protein

Whole grains, foods a must

Reduce refined carbs (like crackers, cookies, pasta)

Plan snacks ahead – include protein and fiber

Move for 30 minutes a day

Read food labels – less processed, whole foods you can pronounce, lower sugar content

Compare labels on gluten free products

Compare labels on gluten free products

I think another blog post about snacks may be in order – but perhaps focusing on the kiddos. Let’s face it – they are not easily persuaded to eat more whole grains. Do you have any go to snacks or tips to share?

Baking with Stevia

Baking with Stevia

 Satisfy your sweet tooth without sugar. Make space for stevia in your kitchen cabinet. Though it can be up to 300 times sweeter than sugar, stevia is a healthy alternative with zero calories or carbohydrates. Stevia is safe for fructose malabsorption patients. Additionally, it is a good alternative sweetener for diabetics and those cutting sugar intake.

Stevia is available in powder or liquid form in most supermarkets. Look for it in the health foods or baked goods sections. It is also used in some commercially flavored drinks and soft drinks. Stevia is derived from the stevia plant, native to Paraguay and Brazil. It has been added to sweet teas and used for medicine for over a thousand years.

Try replacing the sugar with stevia when baking desserts. Each stevia brand defines its sugar to stevia ratio. Check the label when measuring the sweetener at the time of baking.  Noteworthy tip, you cannot do a direct substitution with sugar and stevia.

Let’s get started:

Substitute every teaspoon of sugar with :

Substitute every cup of sugar required with :

Substitute every tablespoon of sugar with :

  • 1/4 tsp of stevia powdered extract
  • 6-9 drops of stevia liquid

Replace the bulk of sugar you have lost with a bulking agent such as egg whites, yogurt or fruit/veggie puree. Water may also serve as a bulking agent, depending on the dessert being made. Increase the quantity of the particular ingredient, if using one of these bulking agents in your recipe. Add small quantities bit by bit to get a good consistency and a smooth batter.

Be cautious at first, stevia can have a bitter aftertaste. Sample the taste first before incorporating it generously in your batter. Start by substituting half or quarter the amount of sugar with stevia. Increase it or continue adding in moderate quantities based on your preference.

I made a delicious pumpkin bread using the stevia packets. It will be the topic of my next post. In the meantime, I have some more experimenting to do. I hope you try it and let me know how it works out!