7 Quick and Healthy Party Appetizer Ideas

By Chef Meg Galvin, Healthy Cooking Expert at SparkPeople.com

This time of year, there's always an occasion where you need to bring a dish to share. But between work, home, and school obligations, not to mention your workouts and healthy meal prep, however will you find time to come up with something delicious and creative to take to the neighborhood gathering?

I've compiled a list of appetizers that will take no more than five minutes of hands-on work!

Appetizer vs. Hors D'Oeuvres
These days, appetizers and hors d'oeuvres are often used interchangeably (though we tend to use the word appetizer more commonly, probably because it's easier to spell), there is a difference. Appetizers are the first course of a meal, while hors d'oeuvres are bite-size portions of food displayed on a buffet or passed on a tray by the host or, at my house, a teenager trying to make up for tossing baseballs near the Christmas tree. So really there's no big difference and who in the heck cares what they are called as long as they taste good. To get started let's look at what make a good single bite of party food.

  • Items should be small and take one to two bites to finish.
  • It should be visually attractive.
  • If you're creating a true appetizer and later serving a meal, the appetizer menu should not repeat any food items on the dinner menu. For example, if you're serving baked chicken with a mushroom sauce as the entrée, don't serve stuffed mushrooms as the appetizer.
  • If the party food is finger food, make sure you place a stack of napkins by each serving dish. If not, place a small stack of 4-6 inch plates by each group of menu items and a serving utensil for each dish.
  • Place an appetizer that will cool the palate next to one that may pack on heat.

Let's get cooking. Try these fabulous party food ideas at your next event.

Spiced Almonds
Toss blanched almonds with a chili and cumin spice mixture. Roast in a 275 degree oven until toasted. Serve in parchment paper formed into small funnel cones.

Hummus with cut vegetables and baked pita bread wedges
Cut pita bread into wedges, mist with non-stick pan coating then bake in a 375 degree oven for 5 minutes.

Phyllo cups filled with shredded roasted chicken or black beans, salsa, and cumin flavored Greek yogurt. Top with green onions, if desired.
This one is perfect for the non-cook since all the items can be picked up at your grocery store pre-made. All you have to do is assemble and stir in cumin into the Greek yogurt. (You could also use small tortilla shells.)

Fresh pineapple chunks dipped in Greek yogurt and chopped pistachios
Not a fan of pistachios? Try chopped walnuts.

Grilled tail-on shrimp served with a wasabi-spiked Greek yogurt sauce
Most grocery stores will peel and devein the shrimp for you--just ask them to leave the tail on. Go one step further and pick a store that will even cook it for you to save time! Go easy on the wasabi. A little bit goes a long way.

Peppadew peppers stuffed with goat cheese
Make this one a centerpiece. Using long wooden skewers, attach a stuffed pepper to the end of a skewer, then place into a tall vase like you would when arranging roses. (Save time and arrange on a platter.)

Spiced Popcorn Mix
Spice up just-popped air-popped popcorn with chili powder, ground cumin, or even wasabi powder. Add some extra crunch to the mix with tossing in a handful of dried wasabi peas.

What's your favorite quick and healthy appetizer?

Related links:
Holiday Party Tip: Slim Down Your Dips
4 Ways to Eat What You Want during the Holidays (without Gaining Weight)
One Surefire Way to Prevent Holiday Weight Gain

SparkPeople Healthy Cooking Expert Meg Galvin is a World Master Chef, culinary instructor, and the author of " The SparkPeople Cookbook: Love Your Food, Lose the Weight." A farmer's daughter and marathon runner, she lives in northern Kentucky with her husband and three teenage sons.