November 17, 2020

Thanksgiving Fueling Tips + a Balanced Plate leftovers recipe!

by Lauren Hoover, MS RD

For most of us, Thanksgiving will look a little different this year. While we might have to forgo large indoor gatherings and buffet-style eating, we will find a way to adapt our traditions just as we have done with other holidays and events in 2020. If you are celebrating the holiday with a traditional Thanksgiving meal this year, check out our 6 Tips for Fueling to avoid overeating:

  1. Avoid skipping meals that day– Heading into a holiday celebration feeling ravenous can lead to overeating. Try having a Balanced Snack (Lean Protein + Fruit/Vegetable) a couple hours before the meal.
  2. Plan and prioritize your favorite foods – Be intentional about what you put on your plate. Include your favorite foods and, if something is not really that enjoyable to you, skip it!
  3. Don’t be afraid to say “No” – If a family member or the host is pressuring you to eat past your fullness point, practice saying “no thank you” and compliment another dish you enjoyed.
  4. Don’t dwell on “mistakes” – There is always a possibility of eating more than planned or past your fullness point. Move on and don’t allow this to ruin your day. Do not restrict your intake the following day, even if you feel like you overate the day before. Simply continue with balanced eating and move on.
  5. Engage in other activities – Go on a walk or play a game to move some of your attention away from the food table.
  6. Enjoy your food – Taking pleasure in holiday meals is a part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle!

While you might be celebrating Thanksgiving with less people, turkey day staples will still likely be part of your spread and oftentimes this holiday brings an abundance of leftovers.

With some restaurants closing their doors as the cold season approaches, and the COVID-19 cases still rising, having extra food in your fridge may be helpful for this busy time of year. While it is tough to beat the classic day-after-thanksgiving sandwich, our SHIFT Dietitians propose another Balanced Plate option.

Introducing—the Thanksgiving Leftovers Shepherd’s Pie.

This recipe is loaded with vegetables, meaning a hefty dose of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The turkey is a lean protein that will help you stay satiated. And, the best part is, this recipe is highly customizable! Feel free to add in any foods you have on hand.

Another great thing about this meal is that you can make a few batches from your leftovers, store them in your freezer (or give to family/friends) and enjoy in the coming weeks.

See the recipe below and talk to your SHIFT Dietitian if you have any questions about how to approach this season of holiday eating.


Thanksgiving Leftovers Shepherd’s Pie 

Makes 6 servings


  • 1 c. chopped carrots (Carrots are an excellent source of Vitamin A.)
  • 1 c. chopped celery (Celery contains Vitamin C, K, potassium, and folate)
  • 1 c. chopped onion (Onions are rich in B-vitamins, particularly folate and Vitamin B6.)
  • 1 c. chopped green beans, or any other leftover vegetables (Green beans are an excellent source of Vitamin C, A and 1 cup contains almost 3g of fiber.)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 t. dried thyme (Herbs and spices are a great source of flavor that also provide antioxidants.)
  • ½ c. frozen peas (Peas are an excellent source of Vitamin K, fiber, and plant-based protein.)
  • 4 c. leftover turkey meat (Adding lean protein to meals helps to keep you sated, supports lean muscle mass, and stabilizes blood sugars.)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 c. mashed potatoes (If looking for a healthier version of mashed potatoes, try 1) substituting Greek yogurt for sour cream, replace half the amount of butter with chicken stock, and/or add mashed steamed cauliflower in place of a portion of the potatoes)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. In a large saucepan, sauté carrots, celery, onion, until soft. Add frozen peas and green beans (or other vegetable), salt/pepper, and dried thyme.
  3. Add turkey, chicken broth and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes, until liquid reduces slightly. Remove bay leaves. Season to taste.
  4. Transfer to casserole dish and spread layer of mashed potatoes on top.
  5. Bake 15 minutes or until top is golden brown and filling is bubbling

Nutrient Breakdown

Nutrient Amount per serving 

(1/6th of recipe)


Energy 300 calories
Total Fat 10 grams
     (Saturated Fat)  3 grams
Total Carbohydrates 20 grams
     (Dietary Fiber) 3.5 grams
     (Sugar) 4.5 grams
Protein 31 grams


Recipe of the month

You may also like

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}