Easy, Healthy Holiday Appetizers
The Diet Vacation
The holiday season can be an excuse to eat anything and everything - especially if it isn't good for you. Salt, fat, and sugar lurk in every beautiful culinary creation. Many people take a "diet vacation" during this time, including rationalizations like "How can I eat healthy while we're on the road?" and "My number one New Year's resolution will be to eat better" in their cheery delirium of Holiday denial.
Believe me, I'd love to go on that Diet Vacation with you, but due to digestive issues I just can't. So I've made a tradition of bringing healthy dishes to holiday gatherings instead of hoping there will be something for me to eat. Each appetizer below 1) is low-salt and low-fat; 2) uses readily-available ingredients, and 3) is easy to prepare and portable. Hope you enjoy them!
The Veggie Tray
For its variety and ease of assembly, the veggie and dip tray cannot be beat. In a pinch you can grab one of these from the market, but you will most likely still need to make your own dip (most of the store-bought dips are full of salt, sugar, or fat). I'd rather make my own tray too, as you get a lot more for your money, and you can prepare and bring extra for larger crowds. Whatever doesn't make it to the tray can stay refrigerated in containers and used later for casseroles and stir frying.
My 'staple veggies' are broccoli, cauliflower, and baby carrots. They maintain a crunchy texture and are easy to handle. I always try to include one exotic item such as vine-ripened cherry tomatoes. And don't forget the tongs! I can't tell you how many times I've passed on a delicious-looking veggie spread because I saw no polite and sanitary way to transfer items to my plate.
If you're pressed for time, pick a low-fat, low sodium creamy salad dressing or a container of hummus. Another quick solution is to combine a container of low-fat sour cream with powdered Knorr dip mix - but only use half the amount of dip mix called for.
For great-tasting dips using easy-to-find ingredients, see these on the Dlife site:
Sweet Potato Muffins
These delicious muffins are easy to transport and are good for breakfast, snacks, or dessert. Based on an original recipe from the Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission:
1 3/4 cup Bisquick
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar substitute
1/2 cup fat free milk
15 oz canned yams, drained and mashed (or 1 cup cooked and mashed fresh yams)
1/3 cup orange jiuce
1 large egg
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners or coat with vegetable spray.
2. In large bowl, combine together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, brown sugar, and granulated sugar, mixing well. In another bowl, combine the milk, mashed yams, orange rind, orange juice, egg, egg white, oil, and vanilla.
3. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing just until moistened. Spoon the batter into prepared muffin tins, filling 2/3 full. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until muffins are done.
Nutrition Facts per muffin(Approx.): 150 Cal., 27g total Carbs, 3g Fat, 3g Protein, 110 mg Sodium.
Radishes with Goat Cheese
This appetizer uses creamy goat cheese, sometimes known as Chèvre. No cooking or heating is required, and it stores well for travel.
24 radishes (with leaves)
2 oz goat cheese
1 tsp cold water
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 Cut leaves off of radishes, leaving 1" stem.
2 Scrub radishes clean. Wash and dry leaves.
3 Arrange leaves around serving platter.
4 Slice radishes in half.
5 In small bowl, whisk goat cheese, water, and cumin until well blended.
6 Place a dollop of seasoned cheese on each radish half. Arrange garnished radishes on leaves.
7 Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
This appetizer has negligible amounts of fat and 30 mg of sodium per serving.