Give your holiday party menu a healthy makeover

By: Health Local Staff Nov 27, 2013
  Article
healthy holiday party food

Here are some ways to take traditional holiday party fare and make it a bit friendlier to your waistline.

Holidays are the time of year where we all seem to loosen up on our diets a bit. You can loosen up on your diet without having to loosen up your belt.

Meatballs
Most recipes call for some kind of sweet and savory combination, often using equal parts of chili sauce and grape jelly and simmering the meatballs in a slow cooker. Many stores offer turkey meatballs or even “meatless meatballs,” which would be a healthier alternative to fattier meats. Using a sugar free or reduced sugar grape jelly would be another option.

Dip
With potato chips being touted as a leading cause of obesity, they may be a big no-no in most homes soon. Tortilla chips and salsa are a good alternative to chips and ranch or onion dip. Another great way to go would be to serve crudités and pita or pita chips with an assortment of healthy dips, such as hummus, black bean dip, tzatziki, or baba ganoush.

Cheese Please!
Many parties wouldn’t be the same without a cheese tray. You can offer a tray with low fat cheeses, grapes, and lower fat cuts of meat. Instead of serving the cheese and meat with crackers, which aren’t all that great for you. Cut the meat and cheese into cubes and serve with decorative toothpicks.

Drinks
Egg nog can be super fattening and often has alcohol in it, which adds to the weighty affects. Another festive option you can try is spiced apple cider. A tin of mulling spices can be purchased, or you can come up with your own blend of cloves, cinnamon and allspice that suits you. Most recipes call for sugar, but you can use a sugar substitute. Cider can either be made in a large saucepan or a slow cooker, depending upon how spicy you like your cider.

Deviled Eggs
These are often a holiday party staple. To make these a bit healthier, be sure to use low fat or nonfat mayonnaise. You can also substitute low fat or nonfat cottage cheese for a portion of the egg yolks. The eggs will still be filled and have the same texture, but they’ll be much healthier. Be sure to check that none of your friends are lactose intolerant before trying out this recipe.

Desserts
Offering mini desserts not only allows your guests to try more than one dessert, but also gives an exercise in portion control. We all have trouble holding back when it comes to dessert. One semi-healthy option, which is also usually a crowd pleaser is dessert pizza. It combines seasonal fruit with some amazing flavors. You can either use refrigerated cookie dough or make your own with an artificial sweetener to lower sugar content. Roll the dough into a circle about 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. Bake as directed. While it’s cooling, mix one 8-oz package of low fat cream cheese with 2 tbsp of honey. Spread over cooled cookie dough. Place sliced seasonal fruit on top. Slice as you would a normal pizza and then serve. You’ll probably need to make more than one!

The Health Local Staff is a team of writers and experts dedicated to bringing you the latest health, nutrition and lifestyle information at www.healthlocal.ca.