One of the best parts of the holiday season is all the time you spend noshing and sharing cheer. You can still eat healthy at the appetizer table with these tips and tasty recipes.
Just because it’s party time doesn’t mean you need go off the rails with health and fitness! Whether you’re sharing munchies at work parties or getting together for a champagne toast, keep this advice in mind and enjoy the special eats of the season.
Holiday Help for the Appetizer Table
It’s easy to see how some people worry about gaining weight with extra holiday fare: popular seasonal snacks like cookies and cakes, plus luxurious spreads of festive dips and hors d’oeuvres could be the key culprits. But no need to skip the party snacks. It more about the quality and timing of what you eat—with a little extra room to celebrate and share.
When you stick to a healthy diet in general, you shouldn’t feel you have to deprive yourself of a special treat on a special occasion. In fact, eating smaller plates every 2- 3 hours can help stabilize your blood sugars, and keep you from going overboard on the next meal.
You only need to remember two key strategies for getting through the season of snack tables and apps, and a few simple tips to put your healthy eating plan in action:
- Focus to avoid mindless, or “unconscious” eating
- Peek at all your choices once before deciding which appetizers to grab
- Consider your small plate selections as a meal that you’re putting together
- Remember you’re just taking a taste—try a few nuts instead of a big handful?
- Save a spot for special treats you don’t get very often, and truly savor them
- Choose nutrition over empty calories when you can
- Pick proteins and healthy fats for satisfaction (see our ceviche recipe below!)
- Use veggies and fruits to brighten your plate and fill up with high fiber foods
- Choose spicy foods when you can—most “junk” foods are sweet, salty or bland
- If you limit the sweets, you’ll make a bit more leeway for cocktails or wine
Recipes for Your Healthy Party Table
Get your protein, fiber and healthy fat here. A tad sweet, salty and spicy. Makes 3 cups.
- 1 cup almonds
- 1 cup pecans or walnuts
- 1 cup cashews
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoons rosemary leaves
- 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
- 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Toss all ingredients in a medium bowl to evenly coat nuts. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet or a large cast-iron pan and roast, tossing occasionally for about 20 minutes until nuts are toasted and syrup caramelizes.
- Spread out in an even layer on parchment paper, use a spoon or spatula to prevent large clusters from forming. Let cool.
Shrimp and Avocado “Ceviche”
Helps you fill up and build muscle. We cooked the shrimp, just in case. Serves 4 – 6.
- 10 oz. raw medium shrimp deveined, peeled
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 large or 3 small avocados, diced
- 2 tomatoes diced, leave seeds behind on cutting board
- 4 green onions, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeno diced
- 1/4 cup (or more) fresh cilantro, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add raw shrimp and boil for 2 minutes. Drain shrimp and chop into small chunks.
- Combine lime and lemon juices in a bowl and add shrimp and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes.
- Mix remaining ingredients together. Drain juices from shrimp and add to tomato mixture. Serve with tortilla chips or with endive leaves to scoop it up.