Healthy Meals From Thanksgiving Leftovers


(MUFREESBORO) St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital offers ideas on ways to not eat too much on Thanksgiving Day; instead–create healthy meals from this feast and make it last several days.

The word “thanksgiving” carried special meaning at the Saint Thomas Cancer Care Wellness Center last week, where cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers gathered for a holiday cooking class led by The Heimerdinger Foundation. Like other programming at the Cancer Care Wellness Center, the hour-long cooking demonstration was free of charge for participants. Since Thanksgiving meals traditionally yield a variety of tasty leftovers, the theme of Thursday’s class was learning how to pack nutrition and flavor into soups using common holiday leftovers like vegetables and meat. Chef Jilah Kalil (pictured above) explained that soups are a practical choice for those fighting cancer due to their high-fiber, low-fat, and anti-inflammatory ingredients. She also taught class participants how to create unique side salads to complement a variety of dishes.

The Nashville-based Heimerdinger Foundation exists to “provide nutrient-rich meals and meal prep education to patients fighting cancer.” Since its inception in 2013, their Meals 4 Health and Healing program has dished more than 90,000 delicious free meals to cancer patients in Davidson and Williamson counties. All meals comply with research-based nutrition recommendations from the American Institute for Cancer Research. This program is made possible due to the efforts of more than 200 volunteers annually. Teens and adults alike can join volunteer the force by emailing


Compliments of The Heimerdinger Foundation, the “soup formula” below makes ample use of common Thanksgiving leftovers. To learn more about how the Saint Thomas Cancer Care Wellness Center and The Heimerdinger Foundation work to meet the needs of cancer patients, please contact me at

Chef Jilah’s Soup “Formula”


  • Start with 1-2 chopped onions and 3-7 cloves of chopped garlic sautéed in olive oil in a stock pot.
  • Use whatever vegetables are seasonally fresh or leftover in your fridge. Add to the pot and sauté for several minutes.
  • Add meat protein, if using.
  • Add beans, if using.
  • Add broth or water, amount depending on your preference of thick or thin soup.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to a simmer, cover pot and cook for 10-15 minutes, depending on vegetables used.
  • Add greens during the simmer, as they cook more quickly.
  • Use an immersion blender to puree and thicken soup.


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