10 Healthy Holiday Party Tips
Your guide to a guilt-free winter bash.
I know that not everyone feels this way, but I personally love to attend and
throw holiday parties. The holiday music twinkling in the background, those
festive fashions, and time to visit with people you don't see often -- what's
not to love?
Some might also think that a holiday party is not the place to highlight
health. I beg to differ. What makes a party special is the people, the
conversation, and the dancing (if you're lucky) -- not the high-cal desserts or
greasy finger foods. It is possible to throw a healthy holiday party that will
please most of your guests. (I say "most" because there are always a
few people who are impossible to please, no matter what!)
That said, here are my top 10 tips for throwing a healthy holiday party.
Adopt as many as you like -- the more the merrier!
1. Offer no- and lower-calorie drinks galore so your guests have lots
of healthy options. Here are a few to try:
- Holiday tea
- Diet soda
- Mineral water
- Light beer and wine spritzers made with club soda
- Holiday punch made with diet soda (like ginger ale or lemon-lime soda)
and/or light cranberry juice
2. Serve fruit and vegetable trays. For appetizers and dinner, I use
the 50% rule: I try to cover 50% of the food table with fruit and vegetable
dishes. Here are some winter options for your fruit and veggie arrays:
- For fruit trays or fruit salads, try apple slices (spray with lemon juice
to prevent browning), orange slices or wedges, melon cubes, grapes, canned
pineapple, and cherry or grape tomatoes.
- For raw veggie trays, try jicama, baby carrots, celery sticks, sugar snap
peas, broccoli, and cauliflower florets.
3. Keep dips and spreads as light as possible by substituting nonfat
sour cream, light cream cheese, light or low-fat mayonnaise, and low-fat yogurt
for the more caloric versions.
4. Look for ways to add beans to your dishes to beef up the fiber and
plant protein, which will help your guests feel fuller faster. It's easy to use
beans in salads, casseroles, and appetizers. One of my favorites is a light
7-layer dip that features canned, nonfat refried beans.
5. Serve whole grains or whole-grain blends. You can use half
whole-wheat flour in nut breads, muffins, and even cookie recipes. You can use
whole-wheat blend pastas, whole grain crackers, and whole wheat (or whole wheat
blend) dinner rolls. Check the ingredient list and the fiber grams on the
nutrition information label for the rolls and crackers to make sure you are
getting a product with at least half whole wheat and more fiber.
6. Serve lean meats and fish. There are lots of festive meat options
that are lower in fat (and saturated fat) and high in protein. Try cooked
shrimp served with cocktail sauce, roasted sliced turkey breast, lean ham, and
sliced lean roast beef. Grilled or broiled salmon filet makes a great appetizer
when served with whole-grain crackers.