A Time for Celebration
'Tis the season for celebration. With it comes perpetual temptation to eat the things we shouldn't, and with that, inevitable weight gain. After that comes the New Year's resolution to lose those excess pounds. If we are to avoid this cycle, we need a strategy and some planning. Whether you are attending a holiday party or entertaining friends and family in your home, the foods of the season are all part of the fun. By now we've collected recipes for healthier sweets, so let's look at the savory side of party food.
With a little creative energy we can plan to substitute healthier choices that won't be noticed by our guests. For instance, serving fat free dips and low calorie appetizers.
The tray of raw vegetables with a dip have become standard fare, so we'll put our efforts into what goes with it. Bottled low fat salad dressings make good dips but tend to be high in sodium. Make your own and you will have a healthy, fresh alternative.
A nice addition to a vegetable tray is soft goat cheese mixed with fresh herbs and served as a spread. Next to the vegetables serve a festive Italian style antipasto tray using low fat, low sodium deli sliced meats and cheeses instead of salami and over-salted cheese. Make rows of rolled meat and cheese slices alternated with olives, small pickled hot peppers and roast peppers.
Another good choice is the one featured in the picture. It's an attractively arranged tray of flat bread, hummus, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives and almonds.
There are a number of hot appetizers that lend themselves to serving buffet style. A mini muffin tin makes it easy to have a uniform, attractive serving size. Try mini crust-less quiche using any quiche recipe. Spray the cups with non-stick baking spray and pour in the filling without any crust. They bake up firm and the outside will brown a bit so they're easy to pick up. Or bake your crust-less quiche in a baking pan and cut into neat squares. Baked stuffed mushrooms and hot baked dips can be healthy if we use low fat ingredients.
There are many possibilities for cold appetizers too. Hollow out cherry tomatoes and fill with hummus or a low fat cheddar or other soft cheese mixture using a pastry bag. This can also be done with small hot peppers. Roasted red peppers are delicious and can be bought in a jar. Cut them into inch-wide strips and sprinkle with fresh chopped basil and garlic. Serve these with thin rounds of toasted baguette. Make tabbouleh or a roasted eggplant dip and serve it with small, crunchy, whole leaves of hearts of romaine lettuce. Nobody will miss the pita.
We hope this insprires you to be a creative host. Today's recipes, by Calorie Count members, are a small selection of appetizers and dips, and even a shrimp entree. Use the Recipe Browser to search by occassion and choose Cocktail Party to find more good recipes. Or use the main Calorie Count search engine (select Recipes from the pull down menu and search by item). Above all, have fun this happy season!