It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…the same thing we ate last night?

If you’re anything like me, the idea of cooking just once or twice a week so that you can eat off of the leftovers sounds great–that is, until you get to that fifth or sixth serving of spaghetti or the eighth piece of grilled chicken. Let’s face it, no matter what sides you pair that leftover serving with, the food can get plain boring. So what do you do? Even though I’m a huge proponent of the slow food movement and of taking time to have family dinner, there are some days where we’re just too darn tired to even think about cooking after work–especially now while summer rages around us with record-topping temperatures.

For me, being bored with my meals leads me to make not so great food choices. That juicy cheeseburger is all the more enticing after a stressful day of work, and my oh my, those tater tots that come on the side sure sound delicious. But five pounds later I remember that, oh yeah, fast food? Not so great for the waistline.

So what’s a girl to do?

Upcycle. This is a term that I’m hearing more and more, especially when it comes to DIY crafts. If you’re unfamiliar with the phenomenon, it basically refers to the repurposing of materials so that they are reused rather than just thrown away. Old t-shirts become skirts, empty wine bottles become light fixtures–everything’s a chameleon these days, and there’s no reason why food can’t be included in that category, too.

In my opinion, the easiest thing to upcycle is cuts of meat. Fillets of beef can be diced and thrown into story fry, grilled chicken can be shredded and made into chicken salad, and leftover burgers can be turned into something like tacos or quesadillas. See, on Weight Watchers, even turkey burgers can be high in points plus–let’s face it, a burger isn’t a burger unless its nestled between two pillowy slices of bread and tucked in with a slice of cheese. Spread a teaspoon of mayo, mustard, and ketchup on there and you can end up with a single piece of food that’s as high as 10 points plus (basically one third of my daily points plus intake).

But the meat itself isn’t terribly expensive, nutritionally speaking. That one little patty might be maybe 2 or 3 points plus–not too shabby for a single serving of lean protein. With that in mind, I decided to turn my delicious turkey burger into an equally delicious quesadilla. Paired with a single serving of fat free refried beans and a hearty serving of blanched and lightly salted asparagus, I was in heaven. And the best part? The whole thing took about ten minutes–the same amount of time I might have spent sitting in the drive-thru trying to justify ordering that chicken finger combo.

The meal formerly known as turkey burger.

For more details, see the brief recipe below. What about you? What can you do with leftovers to spice them up and put a little pizzazz back in your palate? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!

Upcycled Burgers:


leftover hamburger patties

small flour tortillas

low fat cheese

assorted fillings (to taste)

1. Take a leftover hamburger patty and crumble into into smaller pieces so that it looks more like ground meat again. Reheat for just a few seconds to get the meat warm again.

2. Using small tortillas (I like the Mission brand, small size because each tortilla is only 1 points plus), spread the desired amount of meat on one of the tortillas. Personally, I like to make sure I’m getting all of my protein, so I use the whole patty for 1 quesadilla, but you could easily split that amount of meat between 2.

3. Top the meat with your cheese and assorted fillers. I like to use 1 oz. of low fat, shredded, sharp cheddar cheese, chopped bell peppers (also leftovers), onions, and some lettuce–all of which are 0 points plus on WW. You could easily throw in black beans, avocado, or any manner of other delicious tidbits.

4. Once your tortilla has been assembled to your satisfaction, place the second tortilla on top, heat for about 30 seconds in the microwave (just until the innards are no longer cold and the cheese is nice and melty), then serve. I topped mine with a teaspoon of light sour cream and paired it with two sides.

5. Eat and enjoy!

WW Points Plus: 6


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