Thanksgiving Leftover Hacks with Health Initiatives Dietitian, Leah Galante

Thanksgiving is a holiday filled with friends, family, gratitude, and lots of food! Reinvent the time-honored tradition of Thanksgiving leftover meals with these easy to follow recipe hacks provided by Health Initiatives dietitian, Leah Galante. Before you begin this process make sure you are properly storing your leftovers. “Always cover leftovers, wrap them in airtight packaging, or seal them in storage containers. These practices help keep bacteria out, retain moisture, and prevent leftovers from picking up odors from other food in the refrigerator,” said Galante.

Now put those leftovers to good use with these healthy recipe twists!

Potato Pancakes

Add some greens, flour, and egg to your mashed potatoes to whip up some potato pancakes.


2 cups mashed potatoes

2 tablespoons flour

1 egg, beaten

Optional add-ins: cooked meat or veggies, cheese or additional spices

Oil for cooking


  1. Combine potatoes, flour, and egg in large bowl. Add in optional ingredients.
  2. Form mixture into pancakes.
  3. In a large skillet over, add oil and cook pancakes over medium-high heat. Cooking until browned and crispy on each side (4-5mins on each side).
  4. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Quesadilla

Use those leftover sweet potatoes along with some greens and cheese for another tasty dish!


1 large or 2 small tortillas

1 oz Cheese

½ cup Leftover sweet potatoes (roasted, casserole, mashed)

½ cup Spinach


  1. Sprinkle entire tortilla with cheese. On one half of tortilla add sweet potatoes and spinach. Fold tortilla in half.  ( if using 2 small top one with ½ of cheese, sweet potatoes, spinach and then the remaining cheese before placing the second tortilla on top)
  2. In a non-stick pan over medium heat, cook until cheese begins to melt and tortilla browns on one side (about 2 minutes). Flip and finish on opposite side (2 more minutes). 
  3. Enjoy! (Galante Hack: for easy flip of quesadilla: Place a plate upside-down on top of quesadilla in the pan. Hold the plate with one hand and the pan handle with the other to flip on to the plate. Then slide quesadilla back into the pan to finish cooking the opposite side.)

Leftover Turkey Sandwich


Leftover Turkey slices

Cranberry sauce

Bread, 2 slices 


Arugula or green of your choice 


  1. Spread cranberry sauce on each bread slice.
  2. Top with turkey, stuffing and arugula.
  3. Enjoy!

*For a hot sandwich and an additional twist, add cheese (Galante recommends Brie or Gouda). Heat sandwich in a small pan with 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat until cheese is melted and bread browns on either side (3-4mins each side).

Your leftovers can stay in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days or frozen for 3 to 4 months depending on the type of food and how you store it. Reheat sauces, soups, and gravies by bringing them to a rolling boil. “Always cover your leftovers when reheating them to retain moisture and ensure that food is heated all the way through. Most importantly, when creating your tasty leftover hacks be sure the internal temperature reaches 165° F,” said Galante.  To learn more about food safety tips go to USDA Leftovers and Food Safety.

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