GAINESVILLE, Fla. — You’ve finished your holiday meal, including perhaps, seconds. The aroma of traditional foods still wafts from the kitchen. Lots of people will make leftovers, whether it’s turkey sandwiches or a veggie dish. But some UF/IFAS Extension agents suggest wise alternatives to prepare.
From stuffed bell peppers to shepherd’s pie, here are some thoughts from family and consumer sciences (FCS) agents. Each specializes in nutrition.
For instance, Suzanne Fundingsland, the FCS agent at UF/IFAS Extension Collier County, said she loves to serve cranberry jalapeño relish with holiday meals.
“It’s so easy to make: Coarsely chop fresh cranberries, orange segments and a seeded jalapeño in a food processor,” she said. “Some recipes call for more sugar than others. Start with less. You can always add more. It’s low in calories, high in fiber and includes lots of vitamin C and antioxidants.”
Fundingsland uses the leftover relish on turkey sandwiches and as a partner to a light cream cheese for a cracker spread. It’s also a nice change from all the sweets that are everywhere during the holidays, she said.
In Hillsborough County, FCS agent Kimberly Bragg-Armatrout, said she likes to use a spin on the “famous stuffed bell pepper.”
Instead of a traditional stuffed pepper using beef and rice, Bragg-Armatrout uses leftover turkey and stuffing, assuming you made a healthier stuffing. Otherwise, you can use quinoa. If you want to be creative, you can add any of the other fixings you like. You can even top it off with some cranberry sauce.
“By using turkey instead of beef, you will save on saturated fat and calories,” she said. “Also, to save even more on fat and calories, you can use mozzarella, ricotta and parmesan mix, instead of a cheddar blend. Overall, this would be a healthier option than the traditional stuffed bell pepper.”
Stuffed bell pepper with turkey has about 272 calories, and a traditional bell pepper will have about 308 calories – and it’s high in potassium.
“Now, keep in mind that stuffed peppers can be made in many ways, using lots of healthy ingredients. So be creative,” Bragg-Armatrout said.
Andrea Nikolai, the FCS agent for UF/IFAS Extension Polk County, recommends shepherd’s pie topped with sweet potatoes with a leftover turkey and vegetable mix for the bottom.
Sweet potatoes are a good source of fiber and potassium, and they are high in vitamins A and C.
“Sweet potatoes are also great to helping prevent disease and helping you feel your best,” Nikolai said. “Vitamin A, for example, comes from the beta-carotene, an antioxidant that gives sweet potatoes their orange color. Vitamin A is important for eye heath and helping support immune function. Potassium is great for your heart.”
How about that turkey sandwich?
“If you are looking for a lean protein, turkey is a winner,” Nikolai said. “Make sure to remove the skin to also get rid of much of the fat. Turkey has B vitamins to help with energy and brain function, and zinc and selenium, both of which are involved in many cell processes from normal growth and development.”
–Brad Buck, UF/IFAS