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?


Pesto chicken topped salad

Pesto Chicken 3-Ways

Pesto chicken topped salad

Pesto chicken topped salad

Pesto chicken 3-ways, maybe 4 or 5 or 6……

Hi everyone! I should have named this post herb pesto 3-ways and more. Pesto is so flavorful and versatile, I’m sure you will find other ways to use the leftovers. Actually, I made and egg white omelette this morning and dabbed on a teaspoon – yum! Interestingly, my uber picky eater eats pesto. I certainly won’t complain because I can get good mileage out of a batch and it’s very healthy! But, I find it curious that she will eat pesto, but not something simple as corn…. sigh. Onward!

We grow a lot of herbs and use those those all season in salads and all of my cooking. I’ve convinced the kids that herbs are essential  for making a dish look good and taste good. In addition, herbs are really healthy! I count them as vegetable in our house.

Even my picky eater will eat this - separate, of course

Even my picky eater will eat this – separate, of course

You mentioned healthy?

As mentioned, I treat herbs as a veggie. They are packed with nutritional value. Basil is a good source of vitamin A, C and K and has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Cilantro has much of the same vitamins but also boosts a few more minerals and helps lower bad cholesterol. Fresh oregano is a good source of minerals like potassium, iron and calcium is great for digestive health. Parsley is considered a “super food”. It packs a punch with vitamins A, C and K and minerals iron, magnesium, and potassium like the others but also supports kidney, urinary tract health and fights cancer. Most herbs are good sources of fiber and are low in calories, anti-inflammatory and nutrient dense. Pesto sauce is concentrating all those great properties into a meal.

 What’s in the pesto?

My pesto recipe is really a basic pesto recipe. I do not add garlic as that is not acceptable for TQ’s fructose malabsorption. Honestly, I don’t miss it. But, if you are a garlic fan, then certainly add a clove or two. Sometimes, I use garlic flavored olive oil to get that hint of garlic and it is quite tasty.  Otherwise, the key players are the 3 cup of freshly packed herbs. The herbs I use most are basil (traditional), parsley, cilantro, and oregano. My daughter is especially a big oregano fan. I also use 3-4 green onion tops. I think that rounds out the flavor and since we don’t use garlic it adds a little kick.

This recipe couldn’t be any simpler. I used my blender to pack in the herbs, olive oil, parmesan, juice of half of a lemon and salt and pepper to taste. I used 1/4 cup of pine nuts, but before you add them to the blender toast them in a pan for a few minutes. Place the pine nuts to a dry skillet over medium heat until they are fragrant,  toasty and slightly brown, Turn off the heat once they start browning, so they don’t burn. Add them to the blender. Blend all of the ingredients, start with a pulse of two to incorporate. Once blended, you are left with a lusciously beautiful green sauce that can be use in endless ways.

Luscious, vitamin packed pretty herb pesto

Luscious, vitamin packed pretty herb pesto

Let’s talk versatility…

I used about 3/4 cup of the prepared pesto to a zip bag along with 1 pound of chicken tenders. The chicken marinated in the bag (in the fridge) for several hours.  Make the pesto the night before and prep the chicken, and marinate so it will be ready when you get home in the evening. I cooked a large batch of chicken for leftovers possibilities. Our first evening meal was gluten free pasta tossed with pesto and the marinated chicken.

Pesto chicken tossed with pasta

Pesto chicken tossed with pasta

I made myself a salad topped with the chicken and drizzled a little touch of pesto as my dressing along with a few crumbles of goat cheese which I highly recommend. Our second meal included make your own sandwiches. Toppings included grilled red pepper, green lettuce, goat cheese and little extra pesto for the bread. They can be eaten warm or cold. Perfect for a quick weeknight meal!

Pesto chicken and veggie sandwich

Pesto chicken and veggie sandwich

I had mentioned topping my egg whites with the pesto but I also think this would be a really delicious topped on cubes of baked tofu, or combined to make a pesto tofu salad or wrap. I may try that and report back. It could be spread as a condiment on any sandwich veggie, turkey or grilled cheese. What ideas do you have? What should I do with my next batch?

Pesto chicken pasta artfully designed by my son :)

Pesto chicken pasta artfully designed by my son 🙂

Herb Pesto - low FODMAP style
Serves 16
Luscious, vitamin packed, pretty herb pesto versatile in many ways from a marinade for chicken, pasta sauce or topping for potatoes and veggies.
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Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
15 min
92 calories
3 g
2 g
9 g
2 g
1 g
24 g
186 g
0 g
0 g
7 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
24g
Servings
16
Amount Per Serving
Calories 92
Calories from Fat 78
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 9g
14%
Saturated Fat 1g
7%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 2mg
1%
Sodium 186mg
8%
Total Carbohydrates 3g
1%
Dietary Fiber 1g
5%
Sugars 0g
Protein 2g
Vitamin A
8%
Vitamin C
21%
Calcium
6%
Iron
8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 3 cups Fresh herbs (basil, parsley,cilantro, oregano, chervil)
  2. 1/2 cup Extra virgin olive oil
  3. 1/4 cup Pine nuts - toasted
  4. 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  5. 3-4 Green onion tops
  6. 2 TB fresh lemon juice (half of a lemon)
  7. 1 tsp Salt (or to taste)
  8. Pepper to taste
  9. Optional garlic clove - but not low FODMAP
Instructions
  1. Toast pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Remove from heat.
  2. Place herbs, lemon juice, green onions (and garlic, if using) in bowl of food processor or blender.
  3. Pulse a few times and scrape the sides with a spatula to make sure all is blending.
  4. Add parmesan cheese and pine nuts, pulse a few more times.
  5. Add olive oil in slow stream to allow sauce to emulsify.
  6. Enjoy endless ways: Marinate chicken or tofu, toss in pasta, serve on eggs, over potato, mix in veggies, serve on sandwiches, top on fish or seafood.......
Notes
  1. Gluten free
  2. Low FODMAP
  3. Low sugar
beta
calories
92
fat
9g
protein
2g
carbs
3g
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