Powerful Leftovers: Thanksgiving Turkey = Muscle

Having grown up as a young goalie myself, I know that when you have sweated your lights out and your muscles are fatigued and hungry, turkey leftovers don’t sound too appetizing. But with a little imagination, not only will your taste buds thank you, but your muscles will too!

Two of the main sports nutrition goals for athletes, no matter what the age, are to build muscle and to NEVER lose muscle. The following are just a few of the benefits of eating a high-density protein like lean turkey:

  • Turkey is a complete protein with a high amino acid count, so it aids muscle recuperation and muscle building.
  • It is a high-density protein, which means a little goes a long way.
  • Turkey is a lean, low fat protein source.
  • It offers a high mineral content, which helps replace all those electrolytes that are lost through gruelling practices and games.
  • Turkey offers the convenience of eating it on the go and either cold or hot.

We all have cooked whole turkeys at some time or another, but October is where we really put this power-packed protein bird to work. However, after its big debut at the Thanksgiving dinner table, we are often left wondering what to do with all the leftovers. With the right nutritious recipes, you can use turkey leftovers to help take a game or practice to the next level. Below are three quick and healthy recipe ideas that taste great — and pack a high-protein punch!

Four-point Turkey on Toast

Recipe by: Alex M. Fioroni, The Nutrition Chef

Source: Simple Nutrition Meal Program simplenutritionmeals.com ©

Servings: 6

Preparation Time: 0:20


  • 1 tablespoon 100% expeller-pressed Earth Balance vegan butter
  • 1½ pounds free-range, hormone-free cooked turkey breast (boneless, skinless), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1½ cups organic non-fat yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon Bragg liquid aminos
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons natural, organic apple juice
  • 4 tablespoons freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
  • 6 slices toasted bread, each cut into four triangles (use sprouted wheat bread, if you can)

Place the vegan butter in a 10-inch, non-stick fry pan and melt over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add the cooked turkey and turn until heated through. Sprinkle with the sea salt and the pepper. Stir in the yogurt, the liquid aminos and the paprika. Reduce the temperature to low and cook until heated through (about 4 minutes). Stir in the apple juice and cook 1 minute more. Pour all into a 1½-quart, shallow baking dish that has been greased with fat-free canola oil. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and broil in the oven until light brown (about 4 minutes). Serve on the toast points.

Serving ideas: Eat this with a glass of vanilla almond milk or coconut water and you are good to go!

Notes: This meal is power packed with lean turkey and it’s high in essential fatty acids, which are great for the joints. Get extra points in your game when you eat this meal!

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 293 Calories; 12 g Fat (38.6% calories from fat); 26 g Protein; 18 g Carbohydrate; 1 g Dietary Fibre; 65 mg Cholesterol; 512 mg Sodium.

Turkey Salad Pitas

Recipe by: Alex M. Fioroni, The Nutrition Chef

Source: Simple Nutrition Meal Program simplenutritionmeals.com ©

Servings: 5

Preparation Time: 0:05


  • ½ cup blanched almonds, slivered
  • ½ cup original Vegenaise (egg-free, all natural dressing and sandwich spread)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups cooked turkey breast, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • Halved whole wheat pitas

Place the almonds in a fry pan. Toast over medium-high heat, shaking frequently. (Watch carefully, as they burn easily.) Set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, mix together the Vegenaise, the lemon juice and the pepper. Toss with the turkey, the celery and the toasted almonds. Stuff the pitas and you are on your way!

Serving ideas: Serve it up with some organic air popped popcorn or some pieces of fresh fruit.

Notes: This is your classic turkey salad sandwich evolved into something even tastier and healthier!

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 337 Calories; 26 g Fat (72.4% calories from fat); 19 g Protein; 3 g Carbohydrate; 1 g Dietary Fibre; 41 mg Cholesterol; 180 mg Sodium.

Turkey Leftover Pita Pizzas

Recipe by: Alex M. Fioroni, The Nutrition Chef

Source: Simple Nutrition Meal Program simplenutritionmeals.com ©

Servings: 4

Preparation Time: 0:20


  • 4 whole pita bread rounds
  • ½ cup organic ketchup
  • 3 cups cooked turkey, chopped
  • ¼ cup scallions, diced
  • 8 ounces low-fat mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 8 ounces low-fat sour cream (or barbecue sauce) placed in dipping bowl

Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Place the pitas on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with fat-free canola oil. Spread 2 tablespoons of the organic ketchup on each pita. Divide the turkey evenly on all the pitas. Sprinkle with the scallions and top with the mozzarella cheese. Bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown and the cheese has melted. Use the sour cream as a dipping sauce. You can also use a natural barbecue sauce for dipping (but make sure it does not contain high-fructose corn syrup, MSG or caramel colour).

Serving ideas: This goes great with organic chocolate milk!

Notes: Great idea after a Friday or Saturday game, or when you have the whole team over and turkey leftovers are all you have!

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 625 Calories; 23 g Fat (33.3% calories from fat); 52 g Protein; 50 g Carbohydrate; 2 g Dietary Fibre; 142 mg Cholesterol; 702 mg Sodium.

By Alex M. Fioroni — The Nutrition Chef

About The Author

Alex Fioroni is a nutrition specialist, a product developer and the founder of the Simple Nutrition Meal Program, The Nutrition Chef show on Healthy Power TV and various nutrition programs for major companies. Originally from Sarnia...CONTINUE.

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