Amp Up Your Apps: Healthy Alternatives in Party Food

You’re trying your best to eat healthy, and that means you’re not only retooling your regular meals but seek better choices in snacks and appetizers as well. You could just roll out the usual favorites such as hot wings, chips and dip, or fried mozzarella sticks, but why do that? That’s been done before, and you’d like to offer your guests something a bit more unique and better for them. You don’t have to stick to plain celery sticks, and with a little inspiration and a few ideas, you’re sure to wow the crowd at your next get together.

Hey, What’s Wrong With Celery Sticks? Or, Try More Fruits and Veggies
Produce offers a great opportunity to break out beyond the usual when it comes to delicious appetizers. While the tried-and-true standby of crudités is great, there’s a world of possibilities much bigger than that. Try a veggie-based dip or spread for a party-pleaser that’s both nutritious and tasty — for example, a spinach and cannellini bean dip can be easily paired with pita bread, crostini or endive spears, and it’s also a great spreadable, too.
Homemade salsas are an excellent idea, since they usually feature a mix of fresh vegetables, herbs and spices. Some versions really pop on the palate with fruit or beans mixed in, such as mango salsa or the ever-popular black bean and corn edition. Olives are always a winner, and there’s no shortage of olive-based tapas that are easy to make and just as easy to eat. Finally, opt for something out of ordinary with non-traditional serving ideas, such as skewers of fruits and veggies mixed with cheese or other tempting morsels.

More Cheese, Please!

Pairing fruits, veggies and other ingredients with healthy cheeses are more delectable options. Goat cheese, feta, and mozzarella are perennial favorites that are lower in fat and easily take on some of the characteristics of added spices and herbs. For instance, mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, basil and a balsamic vinegar reduction combine to make Caprese salad, which is traditionally served as a starter in Italy. To change it up a bit, you can combine smaller bites of cheese with cherry tomatoes and skewer them on toothpicks, then add some chopped basil and a drizzle of the balsamic reduction or olive oil.

Luscious Legumes and Nuts for Earthy, Full-Body Flavor

Rich in protein, both nuts and legumes present a strong kind of savory essence called “umami.” Coined by a Japanese scientist in 1908, the term refers to a sapid, bold taste usually present in foods with high amounts of a type of amino acid known as glutamate. Roasting and toasting these nuts, seeds and beans ups both flavor and the umami factor for a satisfying munchie that’s sure to get your guests talking. Add your preferred mix of spices to boost their boldness, or try pureed dips like hummus and refried bean dip for hors d’oeuvres that satisfy.
Healthier Prep Methods Make a Difference
Don’t discount more traditional fare for your party goers, but select healthier prep methods to cut some of the fat and calories. Crab cakes are a yummy delicacy, easily made in the oven instead of on the stovetop. Or change up some of the ingredients for a more heart-friendly version, like swapping standard mayonnaise for plant-based products such as Just Mayo from Hampton Creek. This even works well in some desserts — a classic throwback like Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake is a perfect opportunity to ditch your old mayo for the Hampton Creek original flavored version.

Divine Noshes Are Simpler Than You Think

How much time you have before your festivities, of course, will dictate how much you can invest in prep and effort. However, a few strategically-selected edibles will have your friends gushing for days — and probably asking you for the recipes. If you’re short on time but big on creativity, a little bit of effort and a nutritious choice of ingredients can go a long way.
The good news is, you don’t even have to tell them that some of the more decadent dips or salacious sauces are guilt-free. Whether you’re looking for items that are low in fat, sodium, sugar or anything else you’re trying to reduce in your own diet, aperitifs that are both zesty and good for you are just a few ingredients away. So, try some of these ideas at your next get-together to kick your affair up a few notches.

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