5 healthiest food options for your holiday party

Thinking of an outdoor party this spring? A picnic perhaps or a special occasion party under a tent? Or maybe just an evening event for work colleagues.

Hosts often have to deal with some big questions, especially when catering to a group of people with different food preferences. What is the perfect ratio of meat-based to plant-based dishes? How to make the food appeal equally to the most health-conscious eater and to the most taste-conscious? Should you cook everything or should you retain a private event catering service?
Menu planning is the biggest task. People want healthy options without compromising on taste. Coming up with memorable party food that is also healthy can seem difficult. It need not be, though.

Here are 5 tasty foods that put health at the forefront of your holiday party.

1. Veggies and dips – vegetable crudité platter

green-salads-cabbage-colorful-veggiesVegetables are short on calories and long on vitamins and other essential nutrients. Delectable dips can make this a winning party food.

Some favorite party dips:

  • Hummus made from chickpeas
  • Tahini made from sesame seeds
  • Sour cream and cheese-based dips
  • Guacamole packed with avocado’s goodness
  • Salsa packed with the citrus punch of tomatoes and limes
  • Pesto full of herbal nutrients

The addition of olive oil to these dips helps in better absorption of the nutrients in the food. Some of the vegetables that are best suited for eating with dips include:

  • Sliced radishes
  • Blanched and chilled tiny carrots
  • Lightly grilled or blanched asparagus
  • Raw sugar snap peas
  • Blanched green beans
  • Raw Cucumbers
  • Raw or lightly grilled bell peppers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Matchstick cut kohlrabi and jicama
  • Cooked fingerling potatoes

Serving tip: Make individual plates, each pre-served with dips in tiny bowls. Guests can choose their own vegetables. When you do this, guests seldom go for multiple helpings of the dips (which is where the calories are, really).

2. Stuffed Vegetables

veggie-burger-on-wood-tableBring a taste of the Mediterranean to your party with a selection of stuffed vegetables. This is a great main course if you choose stuffing such as rice or meat. Vegetables that are most suited for this purpose are tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and zucchinis. Cabbage leaves are another favorite as a cover for the stuffing.

To cater to both plant-based and meat-based preferences, you can opt for a selection of stuffing:

  • Spiced rice
  • Rice and herbs
  • Rice and spiced root vegetables
  • Rice and spiced, minced lamb
  • Spiced and minced meat
  • Mushrooms
  • Leafy vegetables
  • Spinach and soft cheese

You can bake, pan fry or even steam these creations with little to no additional fat.

Serving tip: Add a simple salad on the side to make each serving even more filling. This is suitable for parties with seated dining. It is also great for picnics because this food can be served as a cold dish without affecting the taste.

3. Bruschetta/Toast with toppings

whole grain breadPerfect finger food for your evening parties. Choose whole grain bread instead of white bread for the base toast. For the toppings, you can present a selection that includes:

  • Tomatoes, garlic and basil
  • Avocadoes drizzled with lime juice
  • Sour cream or cheese-based toppings
  • Eggs
  • Smoked salmon
  • Ham
  • Roasted bell peppers
  • Salsa

A splash of olive oil, a pinch of sea salt, a sprinkling of parsley or dill, a touch of citrus – one of these or a combination can elevate this simple dish to a party highlight.

Serving tip: Keep toast slices about two bites large. One-bite size food makes people eat significantly more. Have them spend more time with each serving to reduce their calorie consumption.

4. Protein boost with shrimps

big-boiled-shrimps-close-upThe shrimp cocktail is one of the healthiest party foods out there. Shrimps are high in protein and low on fat, which means that your guests will feel satiated quickly and for longer. Shrimps also contain zinc, an essential mineral we need in trace amounts.

Make this appetizer even more healthy by eschewing the ready made cocktail sauces. Make your own citrusy salsa to serve as the dip for this dish.

Serving tip: Instead of cocktail glasses you can serve each portion wrapped in an endive leaf to add to the nutrition score. Plus, you won’t need to wash up afterwards!

5. Wholesome Desserts

chocolate-dessert-topped-with-creamA party is rarely complete without something to sweeten it at the end. It can seem difficult to make desserts healthy but as with any food, it is a combination of ingredients and portion sizes that make it less than healthy.

You won’t want to serve fruit platters if the vegetable version is already on the menu. It doesn’t mean, however, that you have to fall back on refined sugar and refined flour to come up with delectable sweet concoctions.

Here are some scrumptious desserts that are nutrient-intensive:

  • Tarts with bases made out of dates, powdered nuts and almond butter. Fill with raw fruit or just unprocessed honey.
  • Crumbles made of fruit, oats and whole wheat flour
  • Dark chocolate truffles filled with desiccated coconut or dates or a combination of dates and nuts. Coconut oil is used to bind the filling.
  • Fruit candied with honey
  • Cakes and brownies made of whole wheat flour and sweetened with unrefined sugar or dates.

In general, you can make any party healthier. Serving tips for reducing calorie consumption at your party:

  • For welcome drinks, serve sparkling water or coconut water but not alcohol. Alcohol dehydrates the body. This manifests as hunger. Guests end up eating more later.
  • Serve alcohol with food or at the very end.
  • Cold soup starters like the gazpacho help fill up at less than 20 calories per 100 grams.
  • Avoid small-looking portions. People eat more if they think they have been served less.

If you are hosting more guests than you usually do, don’t let the idea stress you out. Take the help of a catering service to execute your menu plan. When you have caterers on board, portion control and serving fillers become easier. Your party guests will only be happy if the gains of their daily workouts are not upset by all the delicious food.