Nutrition Articles

Healthy Party Foods

Diet-Friendly Tips for Party Fare

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Everyone loves a party. There’s something about getting together with your friends that really helps you shed the stress of always trying to balance work and family. But with so many people trying to live healthier these days, finding tasty, diet-friendly food and beverages can be a challenge.

Deciding what you’ll serve your guests can be confusing. And with more variety comes more temptation—scientists have proven that we eat more at a buffet. So it’s up to you to find healthy recipes for your guests that won't add to their waistlines.

If you are cooking for the party, here are some tips for healthier food choices:
  • Reduce the fat in creamy dressings or dips by using low-fat or fat-free yogurt instead of sour cream or mayonnaise. Offer hummus as a low-fat spread for crackers and vegetables.
     
  • Use non-stick cookware so you can cook with a minimum amount of oil or use a low-calorie vegetable spray.
     
  • Use flavored vinegars or lemon juice to enhance the flavor of a salad without adding fat. Or fill a spray bottle with oil and vinegar so your guests can lightly mist their salads with the just enough flavor.
     
  • Use low-fat milk and cheese in recipes instead of full-fat varieties.
     
  • Choose baked over fried every time. Whether you’re preparing a meat dish or your famous nachos, baked foods are always the better choice.
     
  • Instead bowls full of pretzels or potato chips, offer your guests a selection fresh fruits and vegetables. Break out of the carrot sticks and celery routine with an Asian-style vegetable platter of baby corn, snow peas and fresh bean sprouts drizzled in a low-fat sesame dressing. For another interesting variation, try a southwestern theme of fresh salsa, black beans and corn served in half a red pepper.
     
  • Nuts are a heart-healthy snack choice. Roasted almonds are a great source of magnesium and vitamin E, while pecans and other nuts are rich in monounsaturated fat. Look for raw, unsalted or lightly salted varieties of your favorite nuts. If time allows, roast your own with your favorite seasonings.
     
  • Don’t bury good foods under fat and sugar. Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet and don’t need extra sugar. Bake them, slice and sprinkle with cinnamon instead.
     
  • Serve gravies and other sauces on the side so guests can choose how much they would like. When you’re making gravy, skim off the fat with a gravy-separating cup or let the drippings cool in the refrigerator first and remove the hardened fat before making the gravy.
     
  • Offer alcohol-free drinks. Spritzers made with sparkling water and cranberry (or other fresh juices) and virgin Caesars don’t contain empty alcohol calories. Look for 100% juice (not juice mixes), and they'll count towards your guests’ daily fruit and vegetable quota. Learn more about alcohol ideas that won't break the calorie bank.
     
  • Need dessert ideas? Forgo the high-fat cheesecake and pastries and serve Angel food cake instead. Top it with fresh berries, sorbet or exotic fruits such as mango, papaya and kiwi.
     
  • Check our SparkRecipes.com for more healthy party recipes.
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About The Author

Leanne Beattie Leanne Beattie
A freelance writer, marketing consultant and life coach, Leanne often writes about health and nutrition. See all of Leanne's articles.

Member Comments

  • I now like to make toothpicks with cherry tomatoes, mini mozzarella balls and basil with balsamic reduction. Easy, pretty and delicious. Did I say easy? - 11/7/2013 9:02:38 AM
  • Great article. - 7/30/2013 7:55:24 PM
  • A low cal veggie chili would be great also.... - 2/3/2010 11:53:50 PM
  • I haven't figured out my Super Bowl menu yet but I'm determined to NOT let the big game be an excuse to go overboard with junk food! - 2/3/2010 3:42:56 PM
  • it is all interesting - 2/3/2010 9:49:26 AM
  • That's why this year I am starting the party much later (so people have had a chance to grab a snack before coming to my place) and all I am serving is finger foods and Champagne. Sure, and wine too ;)
    Among the things I am going to put out for them are:

    1. A tray of home made lean meatballs and half Jenni O turkey sausage rounds
    2. A veggie tray and a cheese tray made from Polly O cheese strings, cut up
    3. A tray of salsa, black beans, pico de gallo, and salsa verde with Low Fat Corn Chips
    4. Lots of fruits
    It will be swell! - 12/30/2009 8:56:03 PM
  • So true... I never tell anyone a dish is "healthy" until after they've eaten it. Most are surprised because it was so good! - 4/12/2008 1:43:47 PM
  • Bring that healthy dish to the party and let everyone compliment you!! Then tell them it was healthy. - 11/27/2007 9:20:04 AM

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