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The 10 Best Ways to Eat Your Leftovers

Vegetarian Chili

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280 calories, 10 grams sugar, 3.5 grams fat, 48 grams carbohydrates, 13 grams protein

If you find yourself with a bunch of cut-up veggies from last night’s dinner, toss them together to make a filling, low-cal stew.

A suggestion from Jennifer Kalinowski, the Assistant Manager of Food Content Strategy Group, and Ann Stuart, Manager of Betty Crocker Kitchens: “Start with a good basic chili recipe and add whatever veggies you have that need to be used up like onions, sweet peppers, and zucchini. Vary the flavor by adding fresh toppings like avocado, cilantro, or green onions.”


1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 large onion, chopped (1 c.)

1 medium green bell pepper, chopped (1 c.)

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 fresh jalapeno or serrano chilies, seeded, finely chopped

2 cans (15 oz. each) Progresso black beans, drained, rinsed

2 cans (14.5 oz. each) Muir Glen organic fire roasted or plain diced tomatoes, undrained

1 1/2 c. water

1 tbsp. chili powder

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. coarse (kosher or sea) salt

1 c. Cascadian Farm frozen organic sweet corn

Sour cream or plain yogurt, if desired

Shredded cheddar cheese, if desired

Chopped fresh cilantro, if desired


In 4-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, and chiles; cook 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender. Stir in black beans, tomatoes, water, chili powder, cumin, and salt. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in corn. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered 5 minutes longer. Top each serving with remaining ingredients.

Makes 6 servings.

Recipe provided by Betty Crocker

Healthified Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

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240 calories, 1 grams sugar, 8 grams fat, 23 grams carbohydrates, 18 grams protein

Cooked a little too much chicken last night? Shred it up and season with flavor-packed spices to make these healthy burritos.

“Making burritos is a great way to use leftovers,” Kalinowski and Stuart say. “These burritos are stuffed with chicken, black beans, and cilantro lime rice. They could be made with leftover cooked rice or cooked chicken. Stuff the tortillas with veggies you have in the fridge like lettuce, green onions, or jalapeno slices.”


Instant brown rice

Water as called for on rice box

1/8 tsp. salt

2 c. shredded cooked chicken breast

1 can (15 oz.) Progresso black beans, drained, rinsed

1 c. Muir Glen organic mild salsa

2 tsp. chili powder

1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro

1 tbsp. lime juice

8 low-fat whole-wheat tortillas (8 in.)

1 c. shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese

Salsa, if desired


Cook rice as directed on package for two servings, using 1/8 tsp. salt, but omitting butter if called for. Meanwhile, in medium microwavable bowl, mix chicken, black beans, 1 c. salsa, and chili powder. Microwave on High 2 minutes or until hot, stirring after 1 minute. Place cooked rice in large bowl; stir in cilantro and lime juice until well blended. Heat tortillas as directed on package. Spoon about 1/2 c. chicken mixture down center of each tortilla. Top with about 1/4 c. rice mixture and 2 tbsp. cheese. Fold sides of tortilla toward center; fold ends over. Serve with additional salsa, if desired.

Makes 8 servings.

Recipe provided by Betty Crocker

Whiskey and Beer BBQ Sliders

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230 calories, 8 grams sugar, 6 grams fat, 25 grams carbohydrates, 16 grams protein

Though these tender chicken sliders are infused with a tasty whiskey and beer flavor, they only clock in at 230 calories per sandwich!

“Using slider buns keeps the sandwiches small and calories in check,” Kalinowski and Stuart say. “You could also use leftover cooked chicken or roast beef to make the sliders. A nice addition would be to top the sliders with a spoonful of vegetable slaw, a great way to use up leftover cabbage and herbs.”


For the sauce:

1 c. barbecue sauce

1 1/2 c. lager beer, such as a pilsner

2 tbsp. whiskey

1 tsp. seasoned salt

1 tsp. garlic-pepper blend

1/2 tsp. ground mustard

1-2 tsp. Buffalo wing sauce or other hot sauce

For the sandwiches:

1 deli rotisserie chicken, skin and bones removed, shredded (about 4 c.)

12 slider buns, split

12 pimiento-stuffed green olives, if desired


In 2-quart saucepan, heat sauce ingredients to boiling over medium heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. In medium microwavable bowl, place chicken; cover. Microwave on High 4 to 5 minutes or until hot. Add shredded chicken to sauce in saucepan, stir to coat. Place about 1/3 c. chicken mixture on bottom of each slider bun; top with bun top. Garnish each sandwich with green olive.

Makes 12 servings.

Recipe provided by Betty Crocker

Leftover Omelet

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Calories vary

“Omelets are a great way to stretch leftovers while getting your protein, vitamins, and minerals at the same time,” says chef Jeffrey Saad. “Just go light on the cheese or leave it out all together. Chop up the leftovers very small and re-heat in a separate pan.”


2 eggs

2 tbsp. water

Pinch of salt

1 tbsp. olive oil or butter

Leftovers (chopped veggies, meats, etc.)


Whisk together all ingredients. In a medium size non-stick skillet over medium heat (eggs like moderate heat, not high), add a tbsp. olive oil or butter. Spread it around evenly in the pan. Pour in the egg mixture. Wait about 30 seconds until the egg starts to set around the sides. Using a rubber spatula, push the egg away from the sides of the pan as if you are painting the bottom of the pan. Tilt the pan each time you do this to allow the liquid egg to reach the pan and cook. You will see beautiful folds of egg forming with no browning. Repeat this process until the liquid is cooked but there is still a slight shine. Turn the heat off as the residual heat of the pan will continue to cook the egg. Spread your re-heated leftovers evenly on one side of the egg. Use the rubber spatula to fold the other side of the omelet on top of the fillings. Tilt the pan so that gravity helps. Slide onto a plate and enjoy!

Makes 1 serving.

Recipe provided by Jeffrey Saad, Cooking Channel host of United Tastes of America, restaurateur, chef, and author of Jeffrey Saad’s Global Kitchen: Recipes Without Borders

Blueberry Crumble

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276 calories, 22 grams sugar, 9 grams fat

Instead of discarding your bruised fruits, try incorporating them into a decadent-tasting dessert that won’t destroy your diet.

“One of my favorite things to do with leftover fruit at home, perhaps fruit that’s a bit bruised or has been out a day too long, is to turn it into a fruit crumble,” chef Marc Murphy says. “I love doing this with blueberries, but most fruits could work for this—berries, stone fruit, apples, pears, and more. Just saute the fruit with a touch of sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice until it thickens a bit. Then make a topping using walnuts, whole-wheat flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and some butter—a little goes a long way here.”


3 1/2 pints blueberries

3/4 c. granulated sugar

1 strip lemon rind

1 tbsp. cornstarch

Juice of one lemon

1/2 c. water

1 1/4 c. whole-wheat flour

1/3 c. chopped walnuts

1/4 c. dark brown sugar

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 lb. unsalted butter, melted


Combine 3 pints blueberries, 1/2 c. sugar, lemon rind, cornstarch, lemon juice, and water in medium sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until thickened, about 20-30 minutes. Allow to cool, remove rind, and stir in remaining 1/2 pint blueberries. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine whole-wheat flour, walnuts, remaining 1/4 c. granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter. Divide blueberry mixture among 8 4-oz. ramekins and top with generous amount of crumble. Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 8 servings.

Recipe provided by Marc Murphy, judge on Food Network’s Chopped and chef/owner of Landmarc and Ditch Plains restaurants in New York City

Chicken Chili

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520 calories, 8 grams sugar, 8 grams fat

Since chicken remains a popular low-fat, low-cal dinner item, there's a good chance you have some leftovers on hand. This hearty stew combines chicken, veggies, and spices to make one delicious next-day entrée.

“Leftover shredded chicken makes for a great chicken chili,” Murphy says. “I add some beer and hot sauce to mine, but it’s optional. Top with fresh cilantro before serving, along with some low-fat cheddar and sour cream. It also works well over brown rice.”


2 lb. leftover chicken (lean), pulled and shredded

2 tbsp. olive oil

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 jalapeno, finely chopped

1 medium red onion, diced

1 medium Spanish onion, diced

1 medium green bell pepper, diced

16 oz. canned stewed tomatoes

16 oz. canned kidney beans

1 tbsp. ground black pepper

2 tbsp. chili powder

1 tbsp. cumin

1 bay leaf

2 tsp. hot sauce

1 can stout beer

16 oz. chicken stock/broth

1/3 c. chopped cilantro


Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed sauce pot and add onions, peppers, garlic, and saute until translucent. Add all the spices and then add cooked shredded chicken to pot. Saute together to evenly distribute flavors. Add stewed tomato, kidney beans, chicken stock, and beer to pot. Simmer for 20 minutes; add hot sauce and season chili to liking. Once finished remove from heat. Stir in cilantro and serve. Serve over brown rice, or with low-fat cheddar cheese and sour cream, or even baked tortilla chips.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe provided by Marc Murphy, judge on Food Network’s Chopped and chef/owner of Landmarc and Ditch Plains restaurants in New York City

Pulled Beef Brisket Tacos

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314 calories, 5 grams sugar, 12 grams fat, 21 grams protein

After a Mexican Passover celebration, Rosa Mexicano’s Culinary Advisor Jonathan Waxman has plenty of leftover beef brisket and roast chicken. His favorite way of making sure the meat doesn’t go to waste? Shredding it into soft tacos, then adding a little crunch in the form of healthy jicama, carrots, and pomegranate seeds, which also lend an exotic twist to the meal.


16 oz. cold, leftover brisket

1 c. leftover beef sauce from brisket (if none is available, use chicken or beef stock)

2 c. carrots, peeled and diced

1 onion, peeled and sliced into 1/4 in. rounds

1 c. jicama, julienned

1 habanero, stemmed, seeded, and minced

1/2 c. pomegranate seeds

1 lemon, juiced

1 orange, juiced

2 oz. olive oil

16 sprigs cilantro

16 4-in. corn tortillas


Slice brisket while cold into thin strips, keep cold. In a sauce pan, heat leftover sauce, add carrots, cook for 5 minutes. In a black iron skillet, heat to medium high, add the onions with no fat and char gently until wilted. Add the onions to sauce. Add the habanero chili. Cook for 20 minutes, keep warm. Sauce should be quite reduced; if not reduced enough cook a bit more. In a bowl. toss the jicama, pomegranate seeds, the citrus juices, 1 oz. olive oil, and add sea salt. In the black iron skillet, add the remaining oil, and when hot, sear the brisket strips in batches. Add the strips to sauce. Heat the tortillas, spoon in the carrot, onion brisket mixture, and top with jicama-citrus. Garnish with cilantro.

Makes 8 servings of 2 tacos.

Recipe provided by Culinary Advisor Jonathan Waxman for
Rosa Mexicano

Crispy Tuna Sliders

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317 calories, 9.1 grams sugar, 11.3 grams fat, 36.7 grams carbohydrates, 17.6 grams protein

Skip the boring tuna sandwich in favor of these crispy sliders. Though the list of ingredients may seem daunting, they're actually quite easy to make and pack a powerful punch of flavor.

“We all have a can of tuna lying around,” says chef Nadia G. “Problem is, canned tuna can sometimes be as boring as, well, canned tuna. These crispy, spicy tuna sliders make great use of leftover produce and taste like you planned it for days.”


1 small red cabbage, shredded

1 1/2 tbsp. raw sugar

Sea salt

1 tbsp. poppy seeds

1/4 c. mayonnaise

2 tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 fresh lime, juiced

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/2 c. fresh parsley, minced

1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 fresh red chile pepper, minced

1 rib celery, minced

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp. celery seeds

1 egg, beaten

1 tbsp. heavy cream

3 green onions, finely sliced

2 c. canned tuna in water, drained

1/3 c. dry breadcrumbs

2 tbsp. all-purpose flour

Canola oil

8 slider buns


For the slaw:

In a large bowl combine the shredded cabbage, 1 tbsp. raw sugar, and 1/2 tsp. sea salt. Toss it, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to brine. In a jar, combine the poppy seeds, mayonnaise, 1 tbsp. Dijon, lime juice, 1/2 tbsp. raw sugar, 1/4 tsp. sea salt, and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Close the jar and shake it until it’s well mixed. Pour the dressing into the slaw along with 1/4 c. parsley, and toss.

For the tuna patties:

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, chile pepper, rib of celery, cayenne, celery seeds, 1/4 tsp. sea salt, and freshly ground pepper to taste. Saute for 3 minutes, then take it off the heat and let the mixture cool for about 10 minutes. In a large bowl whisk together the egg, cream, 1 tbsp. Dijon,
green onions, 1/4 c. fresh parsley, the garlic, chile, celery mixture, and sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Fold in the tuna and breadcrumbs. With lightly floured hands, shape about 1/4 c. tuna mixture into a patty. Repeat with the remaining tuna mixture. Dredge the patties in flour, and pop them in the freezer to firm up for 10 minutes. Heat 1/2 in. canola oil to 350 degrees on a thermometer in a large frying pan, and fry the tuna patties for 3 to 5 minutes, until golden and heated through. Drain them on paper towels. Place each tuna patty onto a slider bun, and top with the citrusy slaw.

Makes 8 sliders.

Recipe provided by Nadia G, host of Cooking Channel’s Bitchin’ Kitchen and author of Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen: Cookin’ For Trouble

Meatloaf with Awesome Sauce

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402 calories, 5.1 grams sugar, 13.6 grams fat, 17.3 grams carbohydrates, 49.9 grams protein

Yes, meatloaf can make a healthy, delicious dinner, as long as you stick to lean ground chuck! “This sweet and tangy meatloaf recipe is hearty enough to feed the whole family and so tasty that there won’t be any leftovers this time round,” Nadia G says.


2 lb. lean ground chuck

1 egg

1 yellow onion, coarsely grated

1 russet potato, finely grated

1 c. Hunt’s tomato sauce

1/2 c. dry breadcrumbs

1 1/2 tsp. sea salt

Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

1 tbsp. unsalted butter

2 tbsp. prepared mustard

2 tbsp. dark brown sugar

2 tbsp. plain white vinegar

1 c. water


For the meatloaf:

In a large bowl, combine the ground chuck, egg, onion, potato, 1/2 c. Hunt’s tomato sauce, breadcrumbs, sea salt, and freshly cracked pepper. Grease the baking pan with the butter. Form the beef mixture into a bread-like loaf and place in the center of the pan.

For the awesomesauce:

In a medium-sized bowl, combine 1/2 c. Hunt’s tomato sauce, mustard, brown sugar, vinegar, and water. Whisk and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the meatloaf for 15 minutes, until browned. Once it is browned, remove it from the oven, and pour 2/3 c. sauce over the meatloaf. Bake for another 1 1/4 hours, basting the loaf with the remaining sauce every 10 minutes. Once the meatloaf is cooked, remove it from the pan, slice it up, and serve.

Makes 6 servings.

Recipe provided by Nadia G, host of Cooking Channel’s Bitchin’ Kitchen and author of Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen: Cookin’ For Trouble

Roasted Vegetable Pasta with Sauteed Kale and Walnut Pesto

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718 calories, 4.5 grams sugar, 23.9 grams fat, 101.2 grams carbohydrates, 28.3 grams protein

The key ingredient in this veggie pasta is homemade walnut pesto, which lends the dish a light yet savory taste. Note that it’s heavy on the carbs so if you’re on a carb-conscious diet, you may want to try something else (but you probably don't have leftover pasta in the first place).

“I always have a ton of roasted vegetables lying around, and the walnut pesto is a lighter alternative to Alfredo,” says chef Claire Thomas. “This is the perfect dish for vegetable leftovers because the walnut pesto goes with practically everything.”


For the pesto:

1 1/2 c. raw walnuts

3/4 c. cubed bread

2 cloves garlic

1/4 tsp. nutmeg, freshly grated

1/2 c. milk, or however much you need

1/4 c. Parmigiano, freshly grated

For the pasta:

2 c. butternut squash, chopped into 1/2 in. cubes

2 c. sunchoke (a.k.a. Jerusalem Artichokes), chopped into 1/2 in. cubes

1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced

1 bunch kale, veins removed and roughly chopped

1 leek, cleaned and chopped into 1/4 in. pieces

2 cloves garlic, minced

Pinch of chili flake

1 tbsp. lemon juice

Olive oil



1 lb. pasta, such as penne

3/4 c. walnut pesto, more if desired

Toasted breadcrumbs, optional


For the pesto:

Soak the bread in enough milk to cover the cubes, and soak the walnuts in enough hot water to cover them for 15 minutes. The bread should be soft and the walnuts should have turned the water a brownish hue. In a food processor, add the walnuts, drained with the liquid reserved, the bread and milk, and the other ingredients. Pulse to combine. Add a 1/4 c. of the walnut water and pulse until
smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper. If you want a thinner, sauce-ier pesto, add more of the walnut liquid.

For the pasta:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On a baking sheet, drizzle the butternut squash, sunchoke, and fennel with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the fennel for about 15 minutes, or until the edges turn brown, and remove from oven. Continue to roast the sunchoke and butternut squash for another 20 minutes, flipping once. You want them to be really caramelized so if they need to get a little browner, leave them in for another 5 minutes. In a large saute pan over medium heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil and then the leeks. Season the leeks with salt and pepper, and after 5 minutes add the garlic. Cook for another 5 minutes until wilted and browning and add the kale. Stir in the kale so that it's coated, add more olive oil if necessary. Add the chili flake and lemon juice and
cook until the kale is just wilted. Meanwhile, heat up a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta. In a small saucepan, heat up the walnut pesto over medium low heat. Once the pasta is cooked, add it to the saute pan with the kale, add the roasted vegetables, and add the walnut pesto. Stir to combine and coat. Garnish with a sprinkle of breadcrumbs and a drizzle of olive oil.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe provided by Claire Thomas, host of ABC’s Food for Thought with Claire Thomas


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