Attending gatherings almost always involves food. Sultry, buttery, savory holiday food. The winter season filled with sugar and comfort foods has come and gone. But our bodies still live with unwanted poundage (Most people gain 5-8 pounds during the winter holiday season). Though we feel happy eating the foods and chatting about all the exciting events that have occurred in the past year, those new years resolutions are still awaiting for us to declare them around the corner. Why not get a head start now and choose to eat/prepare foods sensibly and with good intentions that we are going to fill our bodies with healthy, good-for-us nutrition? I have compiled a list of some easy to prepare and healthy appetizers to impress your family, colleagues and friends, (especially if you are attending a pot luck) while making your body and conscious thank you for honoring their presence and importance.
The sweet, crunchy nuts are great on their own—make a double batch and give some as a gift. Served in this salad, they give just the right amount of sweet crunch. If you are trying to eat seasonal, substitute mustard greens or kale for the “leafy green” part of the salad. Try goat cheese, too. It is the perfect pairing.
If you have a strong chocolate craving and must have a taste, try a cup of rich hot Barcelona or dark chocolate cocoa which can offer great health benefits, including simply feeling happier. One cup has twice the level of antioxidant activity of a five-ounce glass of red wine and two to three times more than a cup of green tea. This version combines bittersweet chocolate and unsweetened cocoa with espresso, brown sugar, and orange rind for a pick-me-up that's enjoyed in Spain and Europe.
Soup is always a great appetizer and can be healthy if prepared right. Make sure you prepare the soup with chicken broth, vegetable broth or almond/hemp milk to add creaminess. For recipes, check out: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/creamy-carrot-sweet-potato-soup-10000001932660/ and http://lickmyspoon.com/recipes/healthy-butternut-squash-soup/. Reheat these in-season sweet and creamy soup over medium-low heat just before serving.
This Middle Eastern dip is traditionally made with chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and olive oil; it lends itself to several variations. Prepare and refrigerate it a day ahead; let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Garnish with a lemon wedge and fresh parsley sprig, and serve with Sprouted bread or Baked Pita Chips.
Say no to fried cheesy won-tons or mini-quiches and turn to the comfort light Asian gyoza (also known as dumplings or pot stickers). Found in almost every major commercial market, most dumplings are made of vegetables, pork and or some other meet. Stick to vegetable pot stickers free of MSG. Remember to read labels. Pair with Sriracha sauce, ketchup or ginger-garlic-sesame-soy sauce and a splash of vinegar.
This is super easy, light, crunchy, and refreshing. It is a palate cleanser to accompany a holiday meal! The following is a great recipe.
Sour Cream is last year’s dip. Try a healthier approach to dress up those organic veggies by substituting yogurt for sour cream. You can prepare this all-purpose dip up to a day ahead. Serve it with cauliflower and broccoli florets, carrot and celery sticks, and bell pepper strips. This is a great recipe: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/garlic-herb-yogurt-dip. Try ricotta cheese instead of yogurt if you still want the cheese.
Ask for paper-thin slices of meat at the deli counter. To ease prep, look for a package of pre-sliced mango in the produce section. Do not use jarred mango slices—they are too soft and absolved of most nutrients. Wrap the prosciutto around arugula and basil leaves. Sandwich a slice of mango and top off with fresh ground pepper. Feel free to substitute the mango for apple, honeydew, or cantaloupe melon.
Dramatically cut the calories out of this simple canapé by subbing crisp cucumber slices for bread. The freshness of the cucumbers pairs well with the smoked salmon and creamy topping. Try Persian cucumbers for a sweeter taste and crisper texture. Make sure to use wild salmon. http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/salmon-cucumber-bites-50400000125488/
Because it's easy to work with, this semolina-flour dough is a great way to try your hand at yeasted dough. You can also buy the ready-made flat-bread dough or sprouted bread and cut them into small squares. Brush bread with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/red-onion-gorgonzola-flatbread-10000001654754/
Steam your favorite vegetables for 5-7 minutes (or until bright colored) in a steamer over boiling water. Be sure to cover with a lid for an additional 3 minutes (or until desired softness). Cool and serve with olive oil drizzled (and optional balsamic vinegar) over entire plate with a sprinkle of sea salt of Parmesan cheese. My favorite is steamed asparagus, broccoli and kale. (Photo Credit: flickriver.com). Roast vegetables in the oven for 20 minutes on 350 degrees with a dollop of Coconut oil and sea salt. Easy, nutritious and delicious.
Endives are in season in the winter. This appetizer is beautifully elegant and easy to eat if you put the cheese and walnuts on one end of the endive. Pair with a drizzle of sweet orange juice. http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/endive-stuffed-with-goat-cheese-walnuts-10000000226689/
Sources: MyRecipies.com, CookingLight.com, FamilyCircle.com