Whether you’re a long-term artist who takes pride in your creations, or an amateur creating simply for the love of it, you intensely value the personal touch in everything you do. It’s no different when you’re planning a fun get-together, but you might be stumped for tasty food that’s easy to prepare. Thankfully, crafting unique, healthy aperitifs isn’t that hard. With a few ideas and a little thinking outside the box, your next affair will be talked about for days.
Taste the Rainbow: Fruits and Veggies Add Color
When it comes to eating for wellness, fruits and vegetables can’t be beat. They’re packed with fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and other essential nutrients. But healthy doesn’t have to mean boring. The produce aisle is a gateway to a world of creative options. For color-themed festivities, try matching the food to your party’s palette. Oranges open up to a spectrum of wonderful flavors, including squash, carrots, citrus and other fruits. Emerald hues lead to dark leafy greens, peppers, herbs and a variety of goodies. And while reds are mostly fruity, consider tomatoes, radishes, and certain cultivars of peppers.
Cheese, Glorious Cheese!
Lower-fat cheeses are the perfect pairing for fruits, vegetables and many different kinds of breads. Mozzarella and feta are already heart-smart favorites, but you can up your game with lesser known versions, such as the ones featured in this Reader’s Digest article. Go for goat cheese, or try Neufchatel for a spreadable topping for a better tasting and less fatty alternative to traditional cream cheese. And Camembert is a great accompaniment to a simple platter of crackers and fruit.
Yes, You Can Have Bar Food
Going the nontraditional route when planning your hors d’oeuvres is no surprise for you, but drawing inspiration from tried-and-true favorites might be your best bet. For example, you don’t have to discount pizza, but crafting a version that’s lower in fat and carbs might be just the ticket. It’s simpler than you think: try thinner whole-grain crusts and even pita bread instead of standard dough, and include veggies, low-fat cheeses, and leaner meats on top. And most appetizers which are typically fried can usually be baked — this Food Network feature includes baked onion rings and mozzarella sticks as great examples.
Skinny and Crunchy: Better Grains Make Better Carbs
For all the hype about carbs, it’s easy to understand if you’re confused. While opinion differs wildly on their rightful presence in one’s diet, incorporating complex carbohydrates introduces some needed fiber and nutrients into your diet. Whole-grain versions are ideal, and it’s simple to add these to your munchie table at your next party. Try crackers, pita bread, or other whole-wheat products to spice up your buffet of little bites. And if you must have white breads, small amounts probably aren’t bad. Think of sliced and toasted baguettes, like what’s used to make crostini.
Sassy Sauces and Delectable Dips
Here’s more great news: you don’t have to bypass all those sauces, dressings and dips that you love. Taking a different approach to these is the key to a nutritious and delicious spread. High-fat dips can be exchanged for hummus or bean dip. If your guests want something creamy, try baba ghanoush, a Middle Eastern dish usually made from tahini, eggplant, lemon, garlic and salt. Select Greek yogurt as a low-fat base for dairy-based dips. And for versatile options that pair well with many ingredients, pick some plant-based dressings such as the Just Mayo line from Hampton Creek.
Please Your Guests With a Gorgeous, Healthy Spread
Of course, the genius thing about all of this is that you can pick and choose what items you’ll focus your time. You don’t have to wear yourself out or make more food than necessary. A few strategic choices using a mix of similar and complimentary foods not only proves to be artistic but time saving as well. It also makes your shopping list for your upcoming bash easier to manage.
Crafting a unique and healthy menu for your parties is easier than you probably realize. Fruits and veggies, lower-fat cheeses and skinny breads are all good basics, but you can also turn to low-fat versions of decadent dips and bar food to spice up your offerings. A little inclusion of variety, some planning ahead and a little flair are the tools to offering an array of noshes for your guests.