Leftovers From Thanksgiving Dinner? Toddler-tempting Recipes that your Little Ones Will Love

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Nutritionist and author Christina Schmidt gives ideas for using the leftovers from turkey dinner. These are nutritious recipes that the whole family—including a toddler—will love.

The Toddler Bistro book cover

The Toddler Bistro by Christina Schmidt

Thanksgiving meal is really quite nutritious and the leftovers offer a great opportunity to introduce new foods to your toddler.

The most anticipated meal of the year, Thanksgiving, is over and the good news is that there are lots of leftovers. Turkey sandwiches might be good for Dad, but how can turkey dinner leftovers be used in a way that will tempt a toddler?

“The traditional Thanksgiving meal is really quite nutritious and the leftovers offer a great opportunity to introduce new foods to your toddler,” says Christina Schmidt, M.S., Nutritionist and Author of The Toddler Bistro: Child-Approved Recipes and Expert Nutrition Advice for the Toddler Years (http://www.bullpub.com/catalog/the-toddler-bistro/ Bull Publishing Company, ISBN: 978-1-933503-19-6, $16.95).

Looking for a few new ideas? Here are a few healthy recipes from Schmidt's book that use leftovers and are toddler tested and approved.

Toddler tempting turkey meatloaf    
(makes 6-8 servings)

  • 11⁄4 pounds lean ground turkey
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1⁄4 cup finely chopped sweet onions
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach,

thawed and drained

  • 2 slices whole wheat bread, torn into small pieces
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

Preheat the oven to 350 ̊F. Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl, form into a loaf, and place in an oiled loaf pan. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Yummy! Substitute lean ground beef for turkey, or vegans may substitute 11⁄2 cups of textured vegetable protein soaked in 2 cups of boiling water.

Open-faced cranberry turkey melt
(makes 1-2 servings)

  • 1 slice whole wheat bread
  • 1 tablespoon soft cream cheese
  • Spinach leaves
  • 1 tablespoon jellied cranberry sauce
  • 2 slices fresh roasted turkey
  • 1 slice provolone or mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 ̊F. Spread bread with cream cheese. Layer with a single layer of spinach, cranberry sauce, turkey, and provolone or mozzarella. Bake 5 to 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Cut into small bites and serve. Another option: Add slices of avocado. Substitute 9-inch whole wheat flour tortilla for bread and prepare as a wrap.

Creamy sweet potato–pumpkin soup
(makes 10 servings)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups peeled, cubed sweet potato
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 11⁄2 cups water
  • 1 15-ounce can pureéd pumpkin (choose organic brands if possible)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 5 tablespoons plain yogurt

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent and tender. Stir in the spices and garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sweet potato, broth, water, and pumpkin. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the sweet potato is soft. Remove from heat and stir in the milk. Transfer to a food processor and purée. Serve topped with 1⁄2 table- spoon of plain yogurt per serving. Make a face or swirl yogurt in a fun design for toddlers to enjoy! Vegans may substitute soy milk, soy yogurt, and veggie broth.

“The leftover foods from a traditional Thanksgiving meal store a rich supply of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that fortify and support our body health,” adds Schmidt.

And what are the most nutritious Thanksgiving foods? This is Christina’s list of super foods:

Sweet potatoes
Turnips
Carrots
Celery
Winter squash (butternut, acorn, spaghetti)
Pumpkin
Broccoli
Beets
Parsnips
Cauliflower
Green beans, Snow peas
Kale, Swiss chard, Spinach, Collards
Avocados
Pears
Pomegranates
Persimmons
Apples
Cranberries
Turkey
Beans
Whole grain breads, rolls, wild rice

Schmidt recommends focusing Thanksgiving dinner around these foods to make sure the leftovers are nutritious, "they will help expand your toddler's list of favorite dishes—and hopefully move some of those food items that tend to be on heavy rotation (can you say chicken nuggets?) further down that list.”

About the Author: Christina Schmidt, MS, is a nutritionist and a certified nutrition educator who has been featured on NBC’s Today Show and has written nutrition articles for The Bump magazine. She is the author of The Baby Bistro, The Baby Bistro Box, and The Toddler Bistro Box. Christina is President of Baby Bistro Brands and lives in Santa Barbara, California. For more about Christina, please visit http://www.babybistrobrands.com.

About the Book: The Toddler Bistro: Child-Approved Recipes and Expert Nutrition Advice for the Toddler Years (http://www.bullpub.com/catalog/the-toddler-bistro/ Bull Publishing Company, 2009, ISBN: 978-1-933503-19-6, $16.95) is available at bookstores nationwide and through major online booksellers.

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