40 Ways to Lighten Up a Holiday Party Menu

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Wondering what to make for your upcoming parties and special occasions? Need a new brunch dish, a sweet treat for a cookie exchange, or something special for the holiday meal? Look no further than "The SparkPeople Cookbook"! With more than 160 mouth-watering recipes and hundreds of additional meal ideas, tips, and tricks for adding flavor while cutting fat, this book is a healthy hostess' best friend.

Today we're sharing some of our favorite holiday recipes from "The SparkPeople Cookbook." You can take a sneak peek at a few of them, but the rest are available exclusively in the cookbook. But because 'tis the season of giving, we've also rounded up Chef Meg's favorite seasonal appetizers (including a brand-new one), plus a money-saving entertaining tip!

Holiday dinner

Move over, holiday ham. Step aside, scalloped potatoes. We have some new family favorites that are healthier and just as tasty. Make room for these at the table and you won't need to wear elastic-weight pants to holiday dinner.

Holiday brunch

Start your family's celebration off on the right foot, with a healthy morning meal. These dishes are great any time of day, and they're sure to please a hungry crowd.

Desserts/cocktail party

Parties can be a calorie minefield, but they needn't be. Enjoy yourself and still fit into your favorite little black dress by serving up these better-for-you, oh-so-good sweets, treats, and small plates.
  • Chef Meg's Mini Apple Tarts
  • Antipasto Kebobs
  • Sweet and Spicy Pecans
  • SparkGuy’s Best Trail Mix
  • Creamy, Tangy Tomato Bruschetta
  • Bruschetta with Cilantro Pesto and White Beans
  • Avocado Cherry-Tomato Salsa
  • Meg-herita Pizza (cut into bite-size pieces)  
  • Barbecue Chicken Pizza
  • Coconut-Lime Shrimp
  • Turkey Meatballs
  • Chef Meg's Beef and Blue Sandwich (mini versions)
  • Black-Bean Burgers with Lime Cream (mini versions)
  • Chicken Kebob Pitas with Creamy Cucumber Sauce (ditch the pitas, serve on skewers)
  • Buffalo Chicken

Cookie/treats exchange

Even cookies and baked goods can be lightened up without sacrificing flavor. Give the shortbread a year off and swap one of these tasty treats instead.
  • Espresso Thumbprints
  • Lemon Berry Tartlets
  • Chef Meg's Cocoa Meringue Shells
  • Dark Chocolate Cake (baked as cupcakes)

    Want more great recipes for your holiday parties?

    Chef Meg knows that flavor comes first. That's why these party-size appetizers are perfect for your next get-together. She skimps on fat, but you--and your guests--will never be able to tell.

Watch your wallet and your waistline when you entertain!
Here's Chef Meg's tip, from "The SparkPeople Cookbook":
We recently hosted 16 teenage boys and 10 adults for dinner on the fly. Each family brought a side dish; we provided salads and salmon, shrimp, and chicken. What a beautiful banquet table it was, filled with fresh fruit, salads of pesto and whole-wheat pasta, cherry tomatoes with avocados and a vinegar-based slaw. To stretch the meal and keep portions reasonable, salmon steaks were grilled then sliced into two-ounce servings, chicken breasts were grilled then sliced on an angle into one-inch strips, and the shrimp were divided into four per skewer. By doing this, the serving sizes were kept to two to three ounces and each person was able to have some variety.
Plates were filled high with vegetables and fruits and topped with few ounces of meat and everyone went home happy, with bellies that were satisfied—not stuffed.

"The SparkPeople Cookbook" makes a great holiday gift. Click here for more info!

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What are you serving at your holiday gatherings? What's your go-to potluck dish?