Choose healthy holiday party foods.
By Stepfanie Romine, editor of SparkRecipes.com
Did you know that overindulging on the weekends can lead to weight gain of nine pounds a year?
To stay on track and still have fun with friends and family, serve some of these healthier party foods.
Bruschetta: Traditionally, this starter is made with thin slices of toasted bread rubbed with garlic and topped with tomato and basil. Get whole wheat or multigrain baguettes from the bakery. Have them slice the bread--it'll be thinner and more uniform. 45 calories; 2 g fat per piece
Smoked salmon mousse: In a food processor, mix 6 ounces smoked salmon with light cream cheese, some dill, lemon zest and juice, and a handful of capers. Mix until creamy, then spread on sliced baguettes and top with a thin slice of English cucumber. 75 calories; 3 g fat
Salsa: Jarred or homemade, spicy or mild, this is a no-fail appetizer. Serve it with baked or whole-grain chips, vegetables or pita chips. 50-75 calories a cup
Guacamole: Full of heart-healthy fats, increase your vegetable intake by adding extra chopped tomato, onion and bell pepper, plus cucumber. 75-80 calories, 7 grams of healthy fat per 1/4 cup serving
Shrimp cocktail: Shrimp is lean, and each one has 1 gram of filling protein. Protein takes longer to digest and keeps you fuller, longer. 10 calories, no fat per shrimp with a teaspoon of cocktail sauce.
Lighten up your dip: Skip the chips or serve baked ones. Opt for pretzels, pita crisps, baked crackers, etc. Better yet: Dip vegetables. Use low-fat yogurt, mayo or sour cream in place of full fat. One cup of lower-fat sour cream will provide all the flavor and texture of mayonnaise but cut 1,300 calories and 150 grams of fat. Love spinach and artichoke dip? Try my lighter version.
Hummus or baba ghanoush: Chickpeas are filling, thanks to the protein and fiber in them. Make a simple dip at home with a couple of cans of drained and rinsed chickpeas. Add juice from a lemon, a couple of roasted red peppers and a clove of garlic. Mix in a food processor until creamy. For baba ghanoush, halve an eggplant and spritz with olive oil, then roast at 425 degrees until the flesh is charred and tender, about 25-30 minutes. Let cool, then scrape flesh into a bowl, mix with lemon juice and a couple of cloves of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil. 50 calories, 3 g fat per 2 tablespoons
Chicken kabobs: Toss chicken chunks in a light marinade, then broil until crispy and cooked through. Serve on toothpicks. Thread 1 ounce strips of chicken onto skewers cut in half. Serve with peanut sauce, low-sodium teriyaki or even light ranch dressing. Great alternative to meatballs! 30 calories, no fat, 6.5 g protein per ounce of chicken
Popcorn: Popcorn is a whole grain, and 1 cup of airpopped popcorn has just 30 calories. Spritz with nonstick spray, then sprinkle on oregano, black pepper and parmesan cheese.
Fruit and cheese: Skip the crackers and serve cheese with fruit instead. Cheese is full of calcium and protein, and the fruit helps bring out its flavor. 115 calories, 7 g fat in one ounce of cheddar cheese (pair of dice). Swap low-fat for full-fat cheese.
Deviled eggs: Halve the mayo in the recipe to save calories. These are another filling, healthy treat. Instead of your typical filling, try hummus, salsa, or even that smoked salmon mousse. It sounds strange, but it will look gourmet. 65 calories, 3 g fat per half of an egg.
Want to find out how to slim down your favorite party foods? Check out this article.
What healthy dish do you serve at parties?
SparkRecipes.com editor Stepfanie Romine is a certified Ashtanga yoga teacher and co-author of "The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight." A vegetarian and runner, she has lived and cooked on three continents.