LiveSmart: Keep the Holidays Flavorful and Safe – Remember Food Safety!

[This story was written by Jamie Epting, MS, RD, CDN, FAND, the system director of clinical nutrition for St. Peter’s Health Partners.]

The holidays are such a fun time to enjoy food and activities with your family and friends. But, every year I hear the horror stories of people getting sick and not being able to enjoy their time together. And while respiratory illnesses are sometimes the culprit, often it has a lot to do with food safety (or a lack thereof).

Here are some tips to help make sure you don’t fall victim to a holiday tummy ache or worse.

  • To thaw your turkey, do it in the fridge, a sink of cold water (changing the water every 30 minutes), or in the microwave.
  • Store the turkey in the bottom of the fridge as it defrosts (in a pan, if possible) to keep juices from dripping on ready-to-eat foods.
  • Make sure to cook the turkey and any casseroles to an internal temp of 165 degrees.
  • Keep hot food hot and cold food cold when serving. Refrigerate or freeze everything within 2 hours after the meal.
  • Any leftovers should be reheated to an internal temp of 165 degrees.

If stored properly, leftovers can make some fun, delicious meals to enjoy throughout the rest of the week. My favorite way to enjoy leftover turkey and veggies is to make turkey and dumplings soup.

I start with the turkey carcass to make a broth. Put it in a large pot, cover with water (just to the top of the carcass), then bring to a boil. Simmer for 3 to 4 hours, then strain. Add leftover turkey and veggies to the broth (carrots, corn and green beans are great) to make a nice soup.

Next, I add a little milk and flour to thicken the broth and add some cut up canned biscuit mix. I simmer it until the biscuits are nice and puffed up. It is so warm and delicious as the temperature is quickly dropping outside! If you want a more detailed recipe or like to make your own biscuits, there are lots of recipes to be found with a quick google search.

For breakfast the morning after, I like to use leftover applesauce, pumpkin or cranberry to make fancy pancakes or muffins for the kids. It’s fun, sweet and adds a little extra nutrition to their breakfast.

No matter how you plan to enjoy your meal and leftovers, I hope you do so safely. Wishing you and your families a most wonderful holiday feast!


Homemade Cranberry Sauce

One of our most popular recipes over the years has been this one for homemade cranberry sauce. Enjoy!





  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ cup water
  • 12 oz fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked through
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 piece orange peel (use a potato peel or paring knife)


  • Combine sugar, orange juice and water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir to combine.
  • Add cranberries, salt, cinnamon stick and orange peel.
  • Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently.
  • Continue cooking, for about 10 minutes, or until all or most of the cranberries have popped. (For added texture, leave a handful of berries whole.)
  • Let cool for at least 30 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • Can be made up to three days in advance.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email