Hosting a summer soirée? These expert tricks will keep your bash fun, delicious, and ensure guests won't feel as if they need to go for a walk after dinner. By Ava Feuer, REDBOOK.
1. Dessert time
Making your own ice cream may sound like a lot of work, but this alternative dessert will be ready as soon as you hit "start." Follow Clean Foods author Terry Walters' lead, and throw pecans, almonds, a dash of vanilla, a few sprinkles of cinnamon, and ice into a high-power blender, such as a Vitamix, for an instantaneous - and shockingly creamy - treat.
2. Get wet
Summer heat - and extra booze - may make you mistake thirst for hunger, says Ashley Koff, RD. instead of relying on water to keep you hydrated, plan a fiber-filled party menu since these kinds of foods hold on to more water. Assemble a beautiful plate full of fresh-cut farmer's market veggies with seasoned sea salt for dipping, or stuff pureed beans into lettuce "burritos" along with plenty of crunchy, bite-size veggies for a healthy and colorful spread.
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3. Spring into action
Take The Omni Diet author Tana Amen's cue when it comes to choosing a light but satisfying appetizer. Combine chopped shrimp, mixed greens, and julienned carrots, cucumbers and mangoes, then wrap in rice paper. Instead of serving the rolls with traditional cocktail sauce, make a dip by mixing a half-cup of light coconut milk, one tablespoon of honey, a little lime juice and sprinkles of curry powder, cinnamon, turmeric and cilantro.
4. Coat your meat
Store-bought rubs and glazes often contain gluten, and given the rise in sensitivity to the protein, one of your guests is bound to be gluten-free. Head off complains by pouring a glaze of reduced low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth, chives and cilantro over meat or fish. Or, whip up Amen's favorite marinade of rosemary, thyme, lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt.
5. A seedy situation
Additives like flax, hemp, and chia seeds are all the rage - and for good reason. "Chia seeds create a wet food because they expand to six times their size in water," says Koff. "That means you can get full on half the food, and they're a good source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids." Next time you barbecue, mix a handful with ground turkey meat, and you'll find yourself just as satisfied by a four-ounce burger as by your standard eight-ounce helping.
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6. Switch up your salad
Salad greens with cut cucumbers and tomatoes get old fast. Walters recommends switching it up with a bed of kale, pumpkin seeds - an excellent source of zinc - and dried goji berries, drizzled with a little olive oil and lemon for a satisfying starter.
7. Nice ice
Instead of claiming you'll drink a glass of water between every alcoholic drink - c'mon, who actually does that? - try this fun trick to stay hydrated: make coconut water ice cubes, and drop them in beverages. You can even freeze a berry inside for a pretty accoutrement.
8. Spice it up
Unlike salt, which often spurs sugar cravings, spices are a satisfying way to up flavor with a ton of health benefits. Many help kill off bacteria, and studies have shown that spicy foods cause us to eat less. Koff recommends adding chili powder and Indian spice blends to potato salad, which will make it easy to keep portions under control, not to mention have guests demanding your secret recipe.
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9. Get fruity
We won't lie to you - if you merely serve fruit in lieu of a sweet dessert, guests may be disappointed. However, when presented with Amen's macadamia-nut sauce, no one will be waiting for the cake to appear. In a high-power blender, mix a half-cup of macadamia nuts, two tablespoons of coconut flakes, a half-cup of light coconut milk, 10 drops of stevia, one tablespoon of raw honey, and one-quarter cup of unsweetened almond milk. Then drizzle over three cups of berries. "These healthy fats and proteins send the signal to your brain that you're full, so you don't gorge," says Amen.
10. Hide the veggies
You want to serve a vegetable-rich meal, but if this is a family affair, kids may not be so wild about the idea. Amen, the mother of a nine-year-old daughter, heads off complains by making chili, and then in a high-power blender, mixing one-third of the meat and sauce with three cups of veggies. She then throws the mixture back in the pot with the rest of the chili. "That purees the vegetables," says Amen. "Kids don't see or taste it, but they're happy to eat it."
11. Serve better shots
Or shooters, at least. Skip canned coconut juice, and instead crack open a real coconut. Mix with vodka in a pitcher, and garnish with basil leaves for a real treat, says Foodist author Darya Rose.
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