Healthy Alternatives for Parties

Hello Readers!  Well, by now your planner is probably full of holiday parties to attend in the next couple of weeks.  Some of them may be White Elephant parties or Secret Santa ones, but most of them will require you to bring a side dish or dessert.  This can sometimes be difficult to decide since we all want to watch our weight but a tray of cookies or dessert cakes can often be easier to make than a healthy side.  But today I want to share a few of my favorite potluck dishes to make that are fast, relatively inexpensive, and healthier than the standard dishes.

Brussels Sprouts  This one is a gimmie, I think.  This is such an easy dish to make and it can be so healthy!  And, best of all, it can cost very little.  It takes 4 ingredients: one pound of Brussels Sprouts, one tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a teaspoon of coarse Sea Salt, and a teaspoon of freshly ground pepper.  Simply wash the sprouts, cut them in half lengthwise, and place them in a 9 X 13 baking dish.  Once in, drizzle the olive oil over the sprouts, toss to coat, and sprinkle the salt and pepper over the top.  Then, bake in a 400 degree F oven for 35 to 40 minutes.  And that’s it.  What I love about this recipe is that I can prepare it in five minutes and then throw it in the oven while I change and get ready to go to the party.  Once it’s done I can pull it out, wrap it with aluminum foil, and be on my way.  And, best of all, people will flock to it because it’s often the freshest dish on the table.

Cranberry Pecan Salad  This one is also a fast, quick, and relatively cheap dish to bring, and a lot of people will think it took a lot of effort.  The ingredients are simple: 10 or 11 oz. bag of mixed greens (I prefer Taylor Farms Organic 50/50 Blend of baby Spring Mix and baby Spinach), 3/4 cup of dried cranberries, 1 cup chopped pecans, 4 oz. crumbled Feta cheese, 1/2 of a medium red onion thinly sliced, and 1 1/2 cups of raspberry vinaigrette.  Simply toss all ingredients into a bowl, toss your salad until well combined, and serve.  If you are afraid of a soggy mess before your party, keep the dressing and the Feta out until just before you serve the salad.  But I love this salad because it’s a little more sophisticated than a standard salad, it gives the illusion that you went to a lot more trouble than you did, and it’s a super fresh option that people will love!  And, best of all, it’s a super yummy dish!

Fruit Salad  I love to take seasonal fruit salads to brunches because they are so fresh and so much fun to put together.  Right now, citrus is in season, along with fruits like papaya, pears, and pomegranates.  So creating a citrus salad or a tropical fruit salad with pomegranate seeds, papaya, mango, and pear is a wonderful option.  And it can be easy to put this together for your next brunch.  Most guests will love having a fresh option to add to their plate during brunch, especially during the colder months when most options are soft foods like breads and cakes.  And, when you purchase seasonal options, it’s a relatively low cost option.

Haricots Verts  So, this is a fancy way of saying French Green Beans.  But, these can be roasted with Shallots, Tomatoes, Carrots, or Pancetta.  You can do a traditional version with Pine Nuts and Shallots, an Asian flair with Carrots and Sesame Seeds, an English version with Cherry Tomatoes and Mushrooms, or an Italian version with Pancetta and Garlic.  These are simple and light recipes that are relatively easy and are likely to go fast.  Again, this takes a little olive oil and some herbs to really make these Haricots Verts a fan favorite.

Baked Cinnamon Apples  This can be done with sliced apples or with whole apples, and again it’s relatively easy to make this dish.  Simply peel and core the apples, place them in a baking dish, and sprinkle with cinnamon before roasting them in a 400 degree F oven for a half hour.  And then you’re done.  Now, if you want to make this dish a little sweeter, you can always add a little sugar or a drizzle of honey to the apples.  But what I love about this dish is that it can be a great dessert option for those wanting to watch their weight.  You can slice up the apples before sprinkling them with cinnamon and roasting them, and then add them to a scoop of frozen yogurt or ice cream.  And this can be eaten alone as well for a warm dish that guests are sure to love!

Honey Oranges  This dessert is something I love to make for myself in the winter months when oranges, especially the small mandarin ones, are in season.  Simply take a bag of mandarin oranges, cut off the rind and white pith, and then cut the oranges into bite size pieces.  Then, drizzle the slices with honey.  About one teaspoon of honey per mandarin orange is sufficient.  The honey brings out the brightness of the oranges, and it can make for a fantastic and fresh option to cleanse your palette after a heavy meal.  And, best of all, this dish requires just two ingredients.

So as you can see, there are some great options out there to take to a party that are easy to make, relatively inexpensive, and are healthy alternatives to the traditional potluck dishes that we always see at parties.  And, most likely, these dishes will become favorites at the next party you attend!

Until next time,




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