Quit Calorie Counting on Christmas: A Guide to Healthy Holiday Party Favors

December 22, 2012 Comments Off

Fresh fruits and veggiesWorried about those skinny jeans not fitting after New Year’s? With the yearly arrival of the holiday season comes the concern of an expanding waistline. Stop the calorie counting and enjoy the holidays a little more with these recipes and ideas for healthy and delicious Christmas party treats.

Switch to Red Wine
Want to make a holiday toast? Raise your glass to red wine rather than champagne or white wine. Red wine is overflowing with polyphenol, a compound that increases circulation, reduces blood pressure and promotes heart health. Prefer a little bubbly in your holiday drinks? Reduce the evening’s caloric intake even further with a spritzer. It’s half red wine and half seltzer.

Keep Snacks Natural
Honey-roasted nuts, caramelized orange peel and other sugar-coated treats need not apply to your holiday party. When minimizing the calories, what you and your guests consume is a priority. Keep foods as close to their natural state as possible. Nuts straight from the shell offer a burst of energy and are better than roasted or sugar-coated alternatives. Fresh fruits and veggies taste delicious when accompanied by low-calorie dips.

Worried about the processed foods your family eats at any time of the year? Check out these refined foods that you should probably stay away from.

Offer Small Portions
Plates heaped with turkey, mashed potatoes and calorie-rich side dishes may be the classic holiday party scene but, at times, holiday traditions must be broken. Instead, make this year’s holiday get-together an appetizer-only affair. Smaller portions that feature healthier ingredients keep guests from falling into holiday food overload and increase everyone’s energy rather than leaving guests feeling lethargic.

Here are a few recipes for healthy holiday appetizers to jumpstart this year’s party planning:

Whole Wheat Bruschetta
Bruschetta is a classic party appetizer featuring fresh and delicious ingredients. Swap white Italian bread for a whole wheat baguette and feel free to snag a few extra bites throughout the evening. Shake up this recipe with each holiday party by adding onions, bell peppers and other fresh and flavorful ingredients.

  • 1 whole wheat baguette + olive oil for brushing
  • 4 large tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Slice the baguette and brush a light coating of olive oil on both sides of each slice. Arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet and broil until lightly browned.

2. Meanwhile, place the diced tomatoes, basil, garlic and olive oil in a large bowl. Toss until ingredients are combined.

3. Top each toasted bread slice with a spoonful of the bruschetta mixture, garnish each with a basil leaf, and serve immediately.

Shrimp Cocktail
Low on calories and high on delicious taste, shrimp cocktail impresses holiday party guests with minimal effort from you. Cocktail sauce is surprisingly easy to prepare while jumbo fresh shrimps take moments to cook. Serve this shrimp cocktail in mini martini glasses for a fun holiday table setting.

  • 1 pound fresh jumbo shrimp, uncooked
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup creamy horseradish
  • Fresh basil for garnish

1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to boil. Add the shrimp to the boiling water and boil for about 8 minutes. The shrimp are cooked when they float to the top of the water and are white throughout. Quickly transfer the shrimp from the water to a strainer and run under cold water for a minute. Peel and devein the shrimp. Set aside.

2. Combine the ketchup and horseradish in a small bowl. Adjust the flavor as needed by adding more ketchup or horseradish. Divide the cocktail sauce between mini martini glasses and arrange the shrimp around the rims of each glass. Garnish each glass with a basil leaf and serve immediately.

Guacamole and Pita Chips
Mashed and blended with a spritz of lemon juice and a pinch of salt, avocados are transformed into a healthy and delicious party appetizer. Spread the freshly prepared guacamole on whole wheat pita chips and your guests will be full and happy in no time at all.

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bag whole wheat pita chips

1. Peel the avocados and remove the seeds. Place the avocado flesh in a large bowl and mash using a fork. Add the salt. Add the lemon juice one tablespoon at a time, tasting the guacamole after each addition and adjust the lemon juice amount as needed. Add additional salt as needed.

2. Transfer the guacamole to a serving platter with the pita chips and serve immediately. Want the guacamole to last longer without browning on top? Keep an avocado seed in the bowl with the guacamole.

From shrimp cocktail to fresh bruschetta, who says holiday treats must be gut busters? Keep your waistline intact without counting every calorie this holiday season by preparing healthy, yet delicious party treats.

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