When you think of holiday appetizers, what comes to mind? Probably things like puff pastry hors d’ouevres, pigs in blankets, the 3-layer cream cheese dip made with Hormel canned chili, and other typical favorites. If you’re trying to keep to your weight loss goals this holiday season, then you might feel like you’re at a loss for serving healthy foods that get the thumbs up for being healthy and nutritious without a lot of sugar, fat and calories.
Consider these party favorites to take along to your next holiday party, or serve to your own guests this Christmas.
Baba Ganoush. Baba ganoush is a delicious and nutrient-rich dip made with eggplant. To start, slice a fresh eggplant longways and place in an olive oil rubbed pan in a hot oven for about 20 minutes. The skin on the eggplant will char and the inside will become soft. Let cool, and scoop out the inside of the eggplant, including seeds. Add to a food processor along with fresh minced garlic, fresh cilantro, a sprinkle of cumin, 2 Tablespoons of tahini (sesame paste), and salt and pepper to taste. Process to form a spread, then serve with whole-grain crackers or veggie slices.
Caponata. Tangy and delicious, the traditional caponata also makes use of eggplant as its main ingredient. Finely chop eggplant, celery, red peppers, olives, onions and garlic. Add to a large skillet along with a few spoonfuls of olive oil. Cook on medium, stirring frequently. When all ingredients are fully cooked to soft, add in a splash of red wine or Balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of capers. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in fresh, finely chopped parsley and serve with whole grain crackers.
Hummus and Veggie Platter. Hummus has become more of a party food since Mediterranean fare has grown in popularity here in the US and other parts of the world. Nutritious, hearty and satisfying, this chick pea and sesame based food goes well with just about any dipper such as fresh slices of carrot, celery, cucumber and peppers, or whole grain crackers and chips. An easy and satisfying take-along, and you can choose from any number of exciting flavors available in the appy section of your local supermarket.
Fresh Salsa and Whole-grain Chips. Sure, it’s easy enough to grab a can of salsa from the chips section or international foods aisle of your local supermarket, and you probably will as salsa is a healthy and versatile item to keep stocked in your pantry. But there is just something extra special about homemade salsa. The best recipe contains fresh diced tomato and onion, finely chopped cilantro, lime juice and salt and pepper. You can also add in other exciting ingredients such as corn, black beans or diced jalapenos. Set out your salsa as an accompaniment to whole grain chips or crackers. It’s always a guilt-free party favorite.
Fresh Veggies and Dip. Need a healthy holiday appetizer to grab in a hurry? Head on down to the grocery store and stock up on pre-cut veggies such as carrots, peppers, celery, tomatoes, cucumbers and radishes. Arrange on a serving plate with a small bowl of yogurt dip in the center. You can whip up a quick and tasty dip simply by combining Greek yogurt and a spoon or two of mayo with onion powder, dill, yellow curry powder, salt and pepper.
White Bean Dip with Fresh Parsley. Bean dips make a super healthy and tasty appetizer to have on hand at your next holiday get-together. This one whips up quickly in the blender with no need to cook anything. Just pop open 2 cans of cannellini or Northern white beans and add to the blender along with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 cup fresh parsley, 1 clove of crushed garlic, and the juice of one lemon. Blend to a pasty consistency and then season with salt and pepper. Serve with whole-grain pita, blue corn nachos or bagel chips.